The 2010 Berlin International Film Festival begins tomorrow, and unfortunately I'm not going. I did, however, look through the complete line-up to find some of the more exciting films playing this year. One can only hope Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg starring Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans and Baumbach's wife Jennifer Jason Leigh, is better than Margot, but we'll see...
Jud Süß - Film ohne Gewissen, a biopic of the actor Ferdinand Marian, is the latest from German director Oskar Roehler (Agnes and His Brothers), starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Martina Gedeck. Belgian directors Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern (Aaltra, Louise-Michel) return with their dryly humorous blend of comedy with Mammuth, which stars Gérard Depardieu (with long, golden hair), Isabelle Adjani, Yolande Moreau and Anna Mouglalis.
Four years after she won the Golden Bear for the film Grbavica, Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić comes to the Berlinale with On the Path [Na putu] about a couple in an unhappy relationship. Yoji Yamada’s (The Twilight Samurai) About Her Brother concerns a family who take over the family pharmaceutical business after the patriarch dies.
Writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Walking & Talking, Friends with Money) once again teams up with actress Catherine Keener for Please Give, a comedy about a husband and wife who own a furniture store. Rebecca Hall, Amanda Peet and Oliver Platt also star. Please Give premiered at Sundance. A director I often confuse with Holofcener, Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon), will also be in Berlin with her latest, The Kids Are All Right, with Julianne Moore, Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo.
Always the envelope-pusher (though seldom with good results), Michael Winterbottom adapts a novel by Jim Thompson (The Grifters, This World, Then the Fireworks) into the graphically violent The Killer Inside Me, starring Casey Affleck and (groan) Kate Hudson and (double groan) Jessica Alba. IFC picked up the US rights to this after it premiered at Sundance. Kristen Stewart plays a teenage stripper/runaway in music video director Jake Scott’s (Plunkett & Macleane) Welcome to the Rileys. Also starring James Gandolfni and Melissa Leo.
Hong Kong filmmaker Scud offers the second part of his unnamed trilogy, Amphetamine, which began with Permanent Residence last year. If you’re curious, take a look at the bizarre lengths some Wikipedia user has gone to in describing the nudity in Permanent Residence. Sample: “As the Chinese actors' full-frontal nudity and unobscured private parts are shown many times, both Sean Li's and Osman Hung's glans penises (penis heads) are visible in every full-frontal nude scene (whether in a room, on a beach, water-platform, shower, etc), revealing that they have both been fully circumcised.”
Both Sébastien Lifshitz and Anahí Berneri are previous Teddy winners (for Wild Side and Un año sin amor respectively), and they both will be presenting their latest films, Plein sud [Going South] and Por tu culpa [It’s Your Fault], in the Panorama section. German queer filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim, Teddy winner in 1990 for Die Aids-Trilogie, will bring the sequel to his Überleben in New York, New York Memories, to Berlin this year.
Canadian director John Greyson has won 3 Teddys, for his feature Pissoir, his short The Making of Monsters and his documentary Fig Trees; his short Covered, an experimental film paying tribute to the organizers of the ill-fated Queer Sarajevo Festival in 2008, will play at Berlin this year. Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, who won a Teddy Jury Prize for The Adventures of Félix [Drôle de Félix] in 2000, will premiere their latest, Family Tree [L’arbre et la fôret], to Berlin after winning the Prix Jean Vigo. Family Tree stars Guy Marchand, Françoise Fabian, Yannick Renier and Sabrina Seyvecou.
2010 is already a busy year for James Franco. After a hilarious guest role on 30 Rock last month, he is playing Allen Ginsberg in Howl from directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Paragraph 175), which also stars Jon Hamm (another former 30 Rock guest star), Mary-Louise Parker, Jeff Daniels, David Strathairn, Treat Wiliams, Bob Balaban and Alessandro Nivola. Howl premiered at Sundance and will screen in the Competition section, while two shorts directed by Franco, Herbert White and The Feast of Stephen (the former starring Michael Shannon), will play in the Panorama section.
More 30 Rock connections (it’s all I’ve cared to think about lately): Cheyenne Jackson is featured in Crayton Robey’s documentary Making the Boys, about the legacy of the play The Boys in the Band which was made into a film by William Friedkin. Making the Boys premiered at Outfest last year. Filmmaker Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman) directs a thriller entitled The Owls in which she and actress Guinevere Turner play aging lesbians.
The latest from Finnish director Aleksi Salmenperä (Producing Adults), Bad Family [Paha perhe], sounds wonderfully naughty. A brother and sister meet again as teenagers after their parents separate and fall in love. Following the German, New York and Tel Aviv editions of the series, Fucking Different: São Paulo is an omnibus of queer shorts from a group of young Brazilian filmmakers.
Postcard to Daddy is a highly personal documentary by Michael Stock, director/star of Prince in Hell, addressing his own molestation by his father as a child. Sadly underrated director Ira Sachs (Married Life, The Delta) will present his short, Last Address, this year, which is dedicated to the many, many NYC artists we’ve lost to the AIDS virus.
German filmmaker Angela Schanelec (Marseilles, Nachmittag) will debut her latest, Orly, in the Forum section. Bruno Todeschini and Natacha Régnier co-star in the German/French production. Constantin Popescu, one of the directors of Tales from the Golden Age, will make his feature debut with Portait of the Fighter As a Young Man [Portretul luptătorului la tinereţe], which follows a Romanian group of anti-Communists hiding in the Carpathian Mountains.
Hanna Schygulla will receive an Honorary Golden Bear for her contributions to both German and international cinema. Schygulla will also present four films she directed: Ein Traumprotokoll, Hanna Hannah, Moi et mon double and Alicia Bustamente. In addition to the films she directed, four of her most memorable performances will also play: Fatih Akin’s The Edge of Heaven [Auf der anderen Seite], Marco Ferreri’s The Story of Piera [Storia di Piera] for which she won the Best Actress prize at Cannes and two collaborations with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Lili Marleen and Rio das Mortes.
Other new films: Submarino, d. Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration); Shekarchi [The Hunter], d. Rafi Pitts (It’s Winter); Loose Cannons [Mine vaganti], d. Ferzan Ozpetek (Steam: The Turkish Bath, Saturn in Opposition), w. Riccardo Scamarcio.
The South by Southwest [SXSW] Film Festival also announced its line-up. The film portion of the festival begins on 12 March and runs until the 20th, while the music portion, arguably the raison d’être of the fest, begins on the 17th and goes to the 21st.
The Duplass brothers’ Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly, Catherine Keener, Marisa Tomei (with an awful haircut) and Jonah Hill, is among the Headliners, as well as the U.S. premieres of two Sony Pictures Classics titles, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs [Micmacs à tire-larigot] and Aaron Schneider’s Get Low. Mr. Nice, a biopic of criminal Howard Marks, directed by Bernard Rose (The Kreutzer Sonata, the Anna Karenina adaptation with Sophie Marceau), is also a part of the Headliners and stars Rhys Ifans, Chloë Sevigny, David Thewlis, Luis Tosar, Christian McKay and (!) Ken Russell.
Sevigny also stars in Barry Munday, co-starring Patrick Wilson, Mae Whitman (Anne Veal from Arrested Development), Judy Greer (Kitty Sanchez from Arrested Development), Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd, Jean Smart, Billy Dee Williams and Colin Hanks. James Franco will redirect his party to Austin, Texas to premiere his documentary Saturday Night which looks at all the behind-the-scenes action of Saturday Night Live. Carla Gugino plays a retired porn actress in her boyfriend Sebastian Gutierrez’s Elektra Luxx; also with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Timothy Olyphant, Malin Akerman, Alicia Silverstone (!), Justin Kirk and Marley Shelton.
Easily the most exciting thing playing at this year’s SXSW Film Festival is the new film from Aaron Katz (Dance Party USA, Quiet City), entitled Cold Weather. Cold Weather again stars Cris Lankenau of Quiet City and sounds vaguely thriller-ish. It’ll be the one I’m keeping my eye on. The other title that has me enticed is Kerthy Fix and Gail O’Hara’s documentary on Stephin Merritt called Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and The Magnetic Fields. The doc is ten years in the making (starting around the time of 69 Love Songs, I’d imagine). The Magnetic Fields’ new album, Realism, is also pretty outstanding if you haven’t picked it up yet.
Other films playing that premiered elsewhere: Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers, Michel Gondry’s The Thorn in the Heart [L’épine dans le cœur], Bryan Poyser’s Lovers of Hate, Daniel Barber’s Harry Brown, Dagur Kári’s The Good Heart, Niels Arden Oplev’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [Män som hatar kvinnor], Giorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Amer, Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void, Sean Byrne’s The Loved Ones, Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats and Steven Soderbergh’s documentary about Spalding Gray, And Everything Is Going Fine.