27 September 2012

Berlin & Beyond 2012 in San Francisco

For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, the 17th annual Berlin & Beyond Film Festival began this evening with an opening night gala of Christian Petzold's Barbara, which took home the Silver Bear for Best Director at this year's Berlinale, in addition to being selected as the official 2012 German submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. Presented by the Goethe Institut, the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival showcases the latest in German, Swiss, and Austrian cinema, as well as German-language films from the rest of the world in the case of Aleksandr Sokurov's version of the oft-told and -filmed legend of Faust, which screens Friday, September 28th, at 9pm at the Castro Theatre.

The latest film from director Veit Helmer (Tuvalu, Absurdistan), Baikonur will screen as the festival's centerpiece selection on Saturday, September 29th, at the Castro Theatre, and the festival closes on Thursday, October 4th, with Marten Persiel's East German skater documentary This Ain't California.

Other notable films at this year's festival include Achim von Borries' (Love in Thoughts) WWII drama, 4 Days in May (4 Tage im Mai); Dagmar Schultz's documentary about lesbian poet Audre Lorde, entitled Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992; Maggie Peren's Color of the Ocean (Die Farbe des Ozeans), which played at last year's Toronto International Film Festival and stars Sabine Timoteo and Spanish actor Álex González; David Wnendt's tale of neo-Nazi teen girls, Combat Girls (Kriegerin); Christian Schwochow's backstage drama Cracks in the Shell (Die Unsichtbare), which won the Best Actress prize for Danish actress Stine Fischer Christensen at last year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival; Anno Saul's The Door (Die Tür), starring another renowned Danish actor, Mads Mikkelsen; Hans-Christian Schmid's Home for the Weekend (Was bleibt), which played in competition to mixed reviews at this year's Berlinale; and Hendrik Handloegten's Summer Window (Fenster zum Sommer), with actors Nina Hoss and Lars Eidinger, who can be seen elsewhere at the festival in Barbara and Home for the Weekend, respectively.

Switzerland and Austria are both represented by three films each this year. The Swiss line-up includes two documentaries, Nicolas Steiner's Battle of the Queens (Kampf der Königinnen), which chronicles the traditional cow fights in the south of Switzerland, and Martin Witz's The Substance: Albert Hofmann's LSD, which traces the discovery of LSD in the early 1940s. The Swiss trio is rounded out with The Foster Boy (Der Verdingbub), a period drama from television-director Markus Imboden, starring Katja Riemann and newcomer Max Hubacher. This year's Austrian selection includes actor Karl Markovics' acclaimed directorial debut Breathing (Atmen), which premiered at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at the Cannes Film Festival last year; Julian Pölsler's The Wall (Die Wand), starring Martina Gedeck and recipient of the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at this year's Berlinale; and Michael Glawogger's documentary about prostitution in Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico, Whores' Glory.

In addition to the contemporary films at this year's festival, there will be a tribute to Mario Adorf with four of the actor's films playing over the course of the week: Volker Schlöndorff's The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel), Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lola, Georg Tressler's Ship of the Dead (Das Totenschiff), and Lola Randl's The Rhino and the Dragonfly (Die Libelle und das Nashorn). Please visit the Berlin & Beyond Film Festival's official site for showtimes and any other information you might need.

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