The 60th Berlin International Film Festival was held from 12 to 21 February 2010. The jury was presided by Werner Herzog.
Plot : A child turns inward as he deals with personal and familial crises in this drama. Yusuf (Bora Altas) is a six-year-old boy who has just begun attending school in a small Turkish village. Yusef is self-conscious around his classmates because he stutters, and some of the students make fun of him when he has trouble reading in class. Yusef prefers to spend time with his father Yakup (Erdal Besikcioglu), a beekeeper who sometimes brings the boy along when he tends his hives in the woods. A wave of bad luck hits the household as Yusuf is traumatized at school and Yakup’s bees suddenly disappear. Yakup sets out to find his colonies and with his father gone, Yusuf grows more withdrawn and stops speaking altogether. His mother Zehra (Tulin Ozen) must now support the family working at a tea plantation while trying to help her son regain the desire to speak and hoping for the safe return of her husband.
Plot : One man’s obsessive search for excitement leads him to a life of crime in this drama inspired by a true story. Johann Rettenberger (Andreas Lust) is a talented long distance runner who frequently competes in marathons and is hooked on the endorphin rush of running and the thrill of competition. For Johann, nothing comes close to matching the lift he gets from running until he discovers a new hobby — robbing banks. Armed with a shotgun and a mask, Johann commits a series of hit and run bank heists, less interested in the money than the way the danger makes him feel. Johann hides his criminal obsessions from his girlfriend Erika (Franziska Weisz), who imagines he’s broke and out of work, but as he becomes increasingly addicted to bank robbery, he loses his sense of caution and takes bigger risks, sometimes hitting as many as three banks in a day
Plot : In this drama from Denmark, Richard Rheinwald (Jesper Christensen) is the patriarch of a family who’ve enjoyed considerable success in the baking business, running several up-market bake shops and catering to the Danish royal family. Richard is a man who believes in family above all else, and when he’s diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, he decides its time to turn over the company to one of his children. Richard has two adult daughters, Ditte (Lene Maria Christensen) and Chrisser (Line Kruse), and he and his second wife Sanne (Anne Louise Hassing) decide Ditte is the right one for the position. But Ditte isn’t so sure she wants a place in the family business; she’s never worked in the bakery, has devoted herself to a career in the arts, and was just offered a job running a gallery in New York City that’s just the sort of work she’s always wanted. Ditte puts her plans on hold while she helps Sanne and Chrisser look after Richard, but she can’t decide how to reconcile her own needs with those of her father; she also has to consider the feelings of her boyfriend Peter (Pilou Asbaek), who wants a more committed relationship.
Plot : Ulrik (Stellan Skarsgard) is a nice guy with a vicious streak that he lets out only when he has to — he’s just been released from prison after serving twelve years for murder, but the guards grew to like him so much that they gave him going-away presents. Ulrik used to work for mob boss Rune Jensen (Bjorn Floberg), but he isn’t eager to go back into a life of crime, hoping instead to patch up his relationships with his son Geir (Jan Gunnar Roise), now in his mid-twenties, and his former wife Wenche (Kjersti Holmen). Rune arranges for Ulrik to get a job in an auto repair shop run by overexcited Sven (Bjorn Sundquist) and a place to stay with his sister Karen (Jorunn Kjellsby), but his underground empire has fallen on hard times and Ulrik is one of the few loyalists he has left. Kenny (Henrik Mestad) was the man who finked on Ulrik and sent him to prison, but while Rune wants Ulrik to kill him, Ulrik doesn’t see the point. But Ulrik’s new life doesn’t go as smoothly as he would like, and Geir isn’t so eager to let his father back in his life — especially since his wife thinks his father is dead.
Plot : Silviu, a young delinquent, is about to be released from reform school. Only five days to go. But ever since he learned that his mother has suddenly reappeared on the scene after a long absence and is determined to take his young brother away to live with her, these five days have seemed like an eternity. Silviu himself has raised his little brother and loves him as if he were his own son. Time is running out and his anxiety about his brother begins to turn into panic.
Plot : A fortysomething New Yorker in the throes of a midlife crisis falls for his brother’s assistant while house-sitting for his sibling in Los Angeles. Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is single and jobless. He’s at a crucial crossroads in life when his successful family-man brother summons him to Los Angeles to housesit for six weeks. Recognizing the opportunity to turn over a new leaf in a new city, Greenberg reaches out to his former bandmate Ivan (Rhys Ifans) and discovers that some old wounds aren’t so quick to heal. When Greenberg meets his brother’s pretty assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig), a kindred spirit who longs to become a singer, he vows not to become too attached. But the more time Greenberg spends with Florence the more he begins to wonder whether he might have finally made a connection worth keeping.
Plot : It’s San Francisco in 1957, and an American masterpiece is put on trial. Howl, the film, recounts this dark moment using three interwoven threads: the tumultuous life events that led a young Allen Ginsberg to find his true voice as an artist, society’s reaction (the obscenity trial), and mind-expanding animation that echoes the startling originality of the poem itself. All three coalesce in a genre-bending hybrid that brilliantly captures a pivotal moment-the birth of a counterculture.
JUD SÃœÃŸ – FILM OHNE GEWISSEN (2010)
Plot : Joseph Goebbels (Moritz Bleibtreu), Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda, was a firm believer in the power of motion pictures, and in 1939 he wanted to make a film that would help shape public opinion against Jews in anticipation of the Nazi “final solution.” Goebbels was eager to make a movie based on the story of Joseph Suss Oppenheimer (1698-1738), a famous Jewish financier who gained power as an adviser to the Duke of Wurttemberg until he was implicated in a scandal by his enemies. While Oppenheimer’s story has been the basis of several dramatic adaptations, Goebbels intended to give the story a strong anti-Semitic twist, and was determined to make it an artistic success.
KAK YA PROVYOL ETIM LETOM (2010)
Plot : A polar station on a desolate island in the Arctic Ocean. Sergei, a seasoned meteorologist, and Pavel, a recent college graduate, are spending months in complete isolation on the once strategic research base. Pavel receives an important radio message and is still trying to find the right moment to tell Sergei, when fear, lies and suspicions start poisoning the atmosphere.
Plot : The horror of war comes home for one couple in this drama from director Koji Wakamatsu. In 1940, Lt. Kyuzo Kurokawa (Shima Ohnishi) is a soldier in the Japanese army, fighting the Chinese in the second Sino-Japanese War. Kyuzo is a warrior with little sense of restraint or fair play, and when he returns home to his wife Shigeko (Shinobu Terajima), he’s clearly paid a high price for his ferocity — he’s lost both arms and legs, and his face is covered with burns. Shigeko is horrified by what’s become of Kyuzo, and at first considers putting him out of his misery, but though he has trouble speaking he’s able to express his desire to survive, and she devotes her days to caring for her man. Kyuzo is considered a great hero by most in the community, and Shigeko enjoys the respect and consideration that comes with being the wife of a “war god,” but though Kyuzo is dependent on Shigeko for his every need, he shows her little respect and is bitter and demanding. Shigeko’s anger and resentment towards Kyuzo grows, and when he begins to object to being displayed in public, Shigeko finds she can no longer control her anger.
Plot : Serge Pilardosse has just turned 60 and is about to retire from his job in a slaughterhouse. He has always worked from the age of sixteen, never been on sick leave. So, how will this man fill his days? He does not like reading; doing odd jobs about the house is not his cup of tea; shopping is not his passion. To make matters worse, his wife Catherine, who still works in a supermarket, notices that her husband will not get full retirement benefits since some of his former employers failed to do the requisite paperwork. So off goes Serge, riding his old Munch “Mammut” bike, in search of the missing documents.
Plot : A woman looking for a new purpose in her life finds it in an unexpected place in this comedy-drama from Argentina. Maria del Carmen (Maria Onetto) is not enjoying her fiftieth birthday party, in large part because she had to do all the work herself — her workaholic husband Juan (Gabriel Goity) loves her but doesn’t pay much attention to her, while her two children Ivan (Julien Doregger) and Juan Pablo (Felipe Villanueva) are old enough to be taking care of themselves and busy with their own lives. Her family did bother to get Maria a present, a jigsaw puzzle, and as she puts it together she’s reminded of how much she enjoys assembling puzzles — and she’s quite good at it. While shopping the next day, Maria sees a flyer from someone looking for a partner for an upcoming jigsaw puzzle tournament, and she volunteers. The puzzle enthusiast turns out to be a well-to-do bachelor named Roberto (Arturo Goetz) who is impressed with Maria’s skills; telling Juan she’s visiting an ailing relative, Maria moves into a spare room in Roberto’s mansion for a couple weeks, and they begin training in earnest for the upcoming jigsaw championships. As Maria embraces her renewed passion for puzzles, Roberto introduces her to a more adventurous side of life she’d all but forgotten.
SAN QIANG PAI AN JING QI (2010)
Also Known As : A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop (USA), A Simple Noodle Story (International)
Director : Yimou Zhang
Writer : Jianquan Shi (screenplay), Jing Shang (screenplay)
Genre : Drama
Country : China
Plot : Love, betrayal and murder take root in the deserts of China in this comedy-drama from filmmaker Zhang Yimou. Wang (Dahong Ni) is an ill-tempered tyrant who runs a noodle shop not far from the Great Wall. Wang treats his employees like dirt and isn’t much friendlier to his long-suffering wife (Ni Yan), who soothes her nerves by having an affair with Li (Xiao Shen-Yang), one of Wang’s cooks. The wife would like to take Wang out of the picture, and one day she gives Li a gun, suggesting that he kill Wang so they can live in peace. A crooked cop named Zhang learns about the plot and tells Wang about the lovers, offering to kill them for a price. The next day, Zhang returns with evidence that Wang’s wife and his cook have been shot, but shoots Wang before he can pay him. Zhang is about to empty out Wang’s safe when he discovers he wasn’t the only one with a plan to double-cross the despised noodle baron. Inspired by Joel & Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple.
Plot : Three stories cross paths within a European Muslim community in this drama. Vedat (Vedat Erincin) is an open-minded imam at a mosque in Berlin. While Vedat believes in a modern and compassionate interpretation of his faith, he worries about his daughter Maryam (Maryam Zaree), who has embraced a Western lifestyle and isn’t much interested in the tenants of Islam. As it happens, Vedat’s concerns are well-founded; Maryam finds herself pregnant and has an illegal abortion, only to suffer grim side effects and anxieties that she’s being punished for immoral behavior. Sammi (Jeremias Acheampong) is a Muslim from Senegal who studies the Koran with Vedat. Sammi is close friends with one of his co-workers, Daniel (Sergej Moya), who is gay; Daniel confesses to Sammi that he’s attracted to him, and Sammi is not certain when to do when he realizes he shares these feelings. And Ismail (Carlo Ljubek) is a policeman who is examining the work papers of a handful of Bosnian immigrants when he realizes one of them, Leyla (Marija Skaricic), is a woman he accidentally shot during an altercation three years ago. Ismail has long carried a burden of guilt over his actions, but now that he’s face to face with Leyla, what is he to do?
Plot : As children, Nick and his little brother take care of their baby brother while their mother drinks herself senseless. But the baby dies, and both brothers blame themselves. Many years later, Nick is out of prison after serving time for an assault. He drinks, lives in a shelter and tries to help an old friend. When their mother dies, Nick meets his brother at the funeral. The brother, who remains nameless, is a single father to a young boy, but also supports a drug habit that is spiraling out of control. When an opportunity presents itself, he becomes a drug dealer to secure his son’s future. Eventually, the two brothers meet again.
THE GHOST WRITER (2010)
Plot : An unremarkable ghost-writer has landed a lucrative contract to redact the memoirs of Adam Lang, the former UK Prime Minister. After dominating British politics for years, Lang has retired with his wife to the USA. He lives on an island, in luxurious, isolated premises complete with a security detail and a secretarial staff. Soon, Adam Lang gets embroiled in a major scandal with international ramifications that reveals how far he was ready to go in order to nurture UK’s “special relationship” with the USA. But before this controversy has started, before even he has closed the deal with the publisher, the ghost-writer gets unmistakable signs that the turgid draft he is tasked to put into shape inexplicably constitutes highly sensitive material.
Plot : In an act of vengeance, a young man, randomly kills two police officers. He escapes to the forest, where he is arrested by two other officers. The three men are surrounded by trees, the woods. They are lost in a maze, a desolate landscape, where the boundaries between the hunter and the hunted are difficult to perceive.
THE KILLER INSIDE ME (2010)
Plot : The second feature-length adaptation of author Jim Thompson’s acclaimed 1952 crime novel, Michael Winterbottom’s unflinching, psychosexual post-noir stars Casey Affleck as Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford, a stoic small-town lawman leading a secret life as a serial killer. His West Texas jurisdiction plagued by a series of unsolved murders, Deputy Sheriff Ford does his best to maintain a cool facade while working to deflect the suspicions of the locals. When those suspicions grow too strong to ignore, the psychotic sheriff begins to buckle under the pressure.
TUAN YUAN (2010)
Plot : In the 1950s, Liu Yansheng (Ling Feng) was a nationalist soldier who fought against the Communist state in a civil war that did little to damage the stability of the People’s Republic. Like many of his fellow rebels, Liu was forced to leave behind family and friends as he fled to Taiwan, and he abandoned his relationship with the woman he loved, Qiao Yu’e (Lisa Lu). It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that Chinese exiles in Taiwan were permitted to visit their families back home, and shortly after the turn of the millennium Qiao finally received a letter from Liu, who informs her his wife has died and he’s decided to come to China for a visit. Qiao’s husband Lu Shenmin (Xu Caigen) is bemused at the prospect of meeting his wife’s former boyfriend, while her children and grandchildren seem suspicious of Liu’s motives, but when he stops by for a visit, Qiao warmly welcomes him into her home and even allows him to stay for the night. However, while sightseeing the next day, Liu tells Qiao that his real reason for coming to China wasn’t to see his family, but to ask her to come to Taiwan and live with him for the rest of his days, even though he knows she already has a husband.
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