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Berlinale Bloggers 2020
Film Is An Industry, But the Berlinale Clearly Favoured People Over Profit

"Funny Face"
"Funny Face" by Tim Sutton | © Lucas Gath

Dark Night director Tim Sutton thanked us for taking the time to watch “a film that is not meant for algorithms but for human consumption,” after the world premiere of his anti-capitalist romance Funny Face. I laughed at the time, but before the Berlinale, I had resigned to the fact that much of the film industry was happy to sign away it’s artistry for a hefty cheque. This is not an indictment on the film industry - but on the Neoliberal agenda choking every corner of the Earth. 

By Neelam Tailor

You could be forgiven for feeling Funny Face was lacking in plot. The narrative arch didn’t really go anywhere, with many of the scenes consciously vapid to leave us space for reflection. Rather, Sutton simply invites us to observe the ashes of a city - New York - burnt down by unchecked capitalism. There is no sense that a phoenix intends to rise, instead we see the isolated, lonely, and depressed remnants in the form of a Muslim girl called Zama, who accidentally meets a socially awkward New York Knicks fan Saul, and an unnamed morally devoid businessman played by Jonny Lee Miller, who comically starts screaming “money” at one point in the back of a taxi. Wonderfully acted, the characters’ gave each other the little energy they had left over after a life of being stripped by greed.

A modern romance indeed, entwined with the housing crisis, Islamophobia, and unnecessary billionaires.

The Berlinale Makes an Effort to Be Open to All

After the film, I reflected on the festival through a more focused anti-capitalist lense, and was hearted by how financially accessible it was. You can get a ticket to a world premiere of a US film at one of the most prominent international film festivals for just €6.50. You don’t have to book in advance either, just turn up at the cinema early and queue. If people didn’t turn up to their booked seats, the festival weren’t happy to leave them empty, knowing they’d been paid for.

Instead there was an emphasis on allowing as many people to see films as possible, including giving out leftover seats for free. It was wonderful to see a young teenager’s face light up when an usher handed her a spare ticket to a cinema screen she was lingering outside of. At the Berlinale, I felt like I was amongst people, not consumers, greeted by smiles and humanity rather than just timetables and queues.