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Berlinale Bloggers reply
No illusions?

„Never rarely sometimes always“ by Eliza Hittman
Eliza Hittman's “Never rarely sometimes always” was awarded the Grand Prize of the Jury at the 70th Berlinale. | Photo: © 2019 Courtesy of Focus Features

According to Carlo Chatrian, the competition films look rather illusion-free at the present. Is the gloom of the films appropriate or would a positive, constructive view of the world be desirable?

Gabriele Magro Photo: © private Gabriele Magro - Italy: The 2008 economic crisis led to a decade-long cultural crisis. Institutions and values that were considered the foundation of Western society have changed dramatically: democracy, freedom of movement, family, religion, social security. The illusion-less and gloomy perspectives of many characters from this year’s Competition films, who find themselves struggling to find their place in society, perhaps reflects the need to take stock of the times we are living in.

Ieva Šukytė Photo: © private Ieva Sukyte - Lithuania: Since the world we live in today faces a lot of problems like racism, the discrimination of minorities and climate change, the films cannot hide from reality. The directors from all over the world shed light  on their countries’ issues and cultural questions, which is more relevant to us now than creating a positive image of the world.
 
Erick Estrada Photo: © private Erick Estrada - Mexico: I always love the competition, but especially so this year. Yes, it is illusion-less but I think that it is necessary to watch films that present a less comfortable view of the world, because right now the world is not a comfortable place. To think about all that through films and stories is the best way to start real change. We need to be confronted by films again.

Sarah Ward Photo: © Private Sarah Ward - Australia: It’s perhaps the 2020 Berlinale Competition’s most polarising inclusion, but Abel Ferrara’s Siberia acts as an apt metaphor for experiencing the centrepiece program’s diverse wares. Like Willem Dafoe’s searching character, every cinephile takes a journey into another world when they navigate their way through any film festival line-up. That means embracing the full gamut of emotions and perspectives — the twisty and unnerving (Natalia Meta’s The Intruder), the wryly perceptive (Hong Sang-soo’s The Woman Who Ran), the melancholically heart-breaking (Philippe Garrel’s The Salt of Tears), and the shattering and topical (Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always), to name a few — as they come.


Javier H. Estrada Photo: © private Javier H. Estrada - Spain: I agree that the competition wasn’t very happy in its vision, but that’s the state of the world, I’m afraid. Take for example the Golden Bear winner, There Is No Evil by Mohammad Rasoulof – I don’t think it’s possible to portrait Iran’s reality with too much optimism. But we also watched intimate reflections such as Siberia by Abel Ferrara, where we entered the labyrinth of the human mind, something which is eternal and universal.
 
Yun-hua Chen Photo: © private Yun-hua Chen - China: Cinema is not a place to seek a positive and constructive view of the world. It is a place to expose the true faces of the world, which is sublime and ugly, hopeful and despairing at the same time. Good films inspire the audience to ask the right questions and to start a discussion; they are not a place to escape the way life is. Gloomy or not, good films are good films. In that vein, Effacer l’Historique is a good example of how cinema is an effective medium to make a laughing matter of our daily lives, which are so absurdly and tragically entrapped in technology and bureaucracy.
 
Michal Zielinski Photo: © private Michal Zielinski - Poland:
 Psychologically, all humans tend to pay more attention to dangerous stuff. Bad news is good news, as they say in some newsrooms. We should consciously balance the bad and the good, especially when we are living in a globalized, connected world. I personally like gloomy stories more, they give me a feeling of touching real life. But in the end, that’s my own psychological bias, which I should balance to get a real picture of the world. No matter how many bad things are going on in the world, there are always good things, too. Sometimes I think it is brave to be positive.

Anjana Singh Photo: © private Anjana Singh - India: I think it's very important to show the present in its full breadth, but I think it's important to convey recommendations for action so that you don't leave the cinema with a feeling of anger and powerlessness; a solution orientation would make sense, but may not always be possible.
 
Egor Moskvitin Photo: © Private Egor Moskvitin - Russia: I remember how last Berlinale opened with a film called Kindness of Strangers – but after that followed two dozen movies that explored the cruelty and the evil we are capable of. I loved that irony, but I felt that this year it transformed into a kind of black humour: the opening movie was a fable, and after that the darkness came. I believe that art should fit the time in which it was created, and therefore I agree with the pessimistic mood of this festival year. But I also believe that art should remember of all those high aspirations, brave deeds, and generous sacrifices that human beings are capable of. Therefore, I prefer stories that are negative about the world, but positive about humanity. And thankfully, there were plenty of those this year. 
 
Hyunjin Park Photo: © private Hyunjin Park - Korea: In this year's competition, I think there are many works that look at reality clearly and calmly. A clear perception of reality, not based on illusions, depresses us, but I think it raises existential questions beyond that. Wouldn't it be positive and constructive to ask such questions?

Berlinale Blogger Andrea D'Addio Photo: © Private Andrea D’Addio - Italy: I have no preferences, I like films that make the viewer reason in an articulated way, with coherence of style and without cunning. If they do that, whether it's a film about current affairs or about the human soul, then they will somehow talk about the present.

Camila Gonzatto Photo: © Private


Camila Gonzatto - Brazil: The films are a mirror of their time and of the challenges the world is facing, in which tradition and conservatism are on the rise and are confronted head-on with the social advances of recent decades. This is what evokes this obscurity. From my point of view it is not the darkest Berlinale. In the Panorama and Forum sections, for example, the war in Syria has produced very intense films in recent years. Film is still an art form that is capable of mobilizing and stimulating reflection. I think it is important to have such films in difficult times.
 
 
Philipp Bühler Photo: © Private Philipp Bühler - Germany:
The term “audience festival” is a little misleading, as the Berlinale has long been the festival of dark film. As far as I can judge, little has changed in the 70th edition. Pure entertainment is hardly to be found here, and it is not missed. Nevertheless, it would be nice if illusionless, political or otherwise challenging films at least had to measure themselves against others. One-sided fare is not healthy in the long run, even in the art of film.

Berlinale blogger Jutta Brendemühl Photo (Detail): © Goethe-Institut Jutta Brendemühl - Canada: Whether appropriate or not, dystopia is our reality, a sign of the times, see the horrific mass murder that coincided with the Berlinale opening. I wish more films had been more affecting, more impactful, more radical. Some seemed to tick all political boxes but then not deliver as much as they could have. Dark perhaps, but often not deep (enough). Not a reproach to level at Berlin Alexanderplatz, which tackled Europe today head-on and in one big sweep, dark but not without hope.

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