Films of women at the Berlinale: Under Goddesses

The Berlinale does not just talk about numbers for its commitment to gender justice, but even better: films! From Balkan feminism to history thrillers with populist touches, everything is included.

Not only the Berlinale is a woman, but also God. The first was written by Berlin newspapers at the beginning of the Berlinale, the latter announced by the Macedonian competition entry in its title: "God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya".

You do not have to settle for the festival with a woman at the same time, after 18 years with a man at the top that would be a bit daring. Nevertheless, the balance of the Berlinale is considerable. In no other A festival do women's films take their place as naturally as here. More than 40 percent of the films in the current competition are by women, and in almost half of the films shown in Festival 400, a woman was involved in the direction. With six winners of the Golden Bear, the Berlinale also loosely hangs the competition from Cannes, where Jane Campion lonely has been holding up her Golden Palm for decades.

On Saturday, Festival Director Dieter Kosslick also signed the so-called Gender Parity Pledge "5050x2020": The Berlinale is thus committed to the goal of equal representation and the disclosure of gender relations in submissions and selection structures. However, Kosslick's successor duo Carlo Chatrian and Mariette Rissenbeek will have to take care of the Pledge, which will take over the Berlinale business in June.

Juhani Zebra / Novotny Film / Berlinale

"The ground under your feet" with Valerie Pachner (left) and Pia Hierzegger

But since Chatrian has already signed the pledge while head of Locarno, there is no reason to worry that the new leadership in gender justice will abate. Especially as this year's Berlinale already shows what a beautiful effect that can have: There are so many films represented by women that they can no longer be grouped in a niche, but cover a stylistic and thematic range in which each work for themselves stands. A selection:

With cool precision, for example, the Austrian Marie Kreutzer introduces her in her fourth feature film "The Ground Under My Feet" into the corporate consultant environment. Here advisor Lola (Valerie Pachner) constantly switches between self-improvement and external optimization. In the morning, people jogged through Vienna, and two hours later in Rostock, a staff of medium-sized family businesses was canceled.

They are worthwhile!

In Brazil in the near future, Joana is responsible for handling divorce applications. Secretly, she refers the divorced couples to a Christian sect, in which broken relationships are to be cemented by ritual intercourse. Gabriel Mascaro's "Divino Amor (Panorama) develops his peculiar tension entirely out of the unclear mix of utopian and dystopian elements within his vision of the future: sexual disinhibition is embedded in a society geared entirely to the regulation of reproduction, and thus a staunch state religion rubs shoulders Moments of genuine wonder: the neon-saturated colors of the film are also an expression of cheerful exuberance, sometimes the emblem of official surveillance - a flickering instability that ultimately engulfs the entire film

When letters are written or read in the cinema, all attention is focused on the message thus conveyed and looking back on history: the "space of time" (Thomas Heise). Sofia Bohdanowicz, who developed "MS Slavic 7" (Forum) together with actress Daregh Campbell, is interested in another aspect: the multiple separations that a letter marks as a material object (spaces, emotional distances). Specifically, it is about the written in exile correspondence between Bohdanowicz 'great-grandmother, the Polish poet Zofia Bohdanowiczowa and the author Józef Wittlin. Time and again, a woman incarnated by Campbell goes to the library to not only view the material cataloged under the signature "MS Slavic 7", but also to crackle in front of the camera. Zofia's words appear as subtitles, transcripts, projections, read in bed. An approach to one's own family history in free-floating form. Esther Buss

The good soul of this bittersweet US indie film: Mara is small, has very great clothes, her black hair surround a rather round face with very round eyes. Jo is her best friend from high school times: taller, slimmer, fairer, prettier, and needier. Mara comes to life and is always there for Jo, who sometimes does not really get along. Dan Sallitt's "Fourteen (Forum) tells the story of an unequal friendship, but also of how in no relation to give and take can be perfectly balanced, with his generous omissions in which sometimes months, sometimes even years disappear, the film looks like He lives above all from the excitement of the casual, intimate form and quite risky dramatic climaxes, in which Sallitt always sets the right tone. " Till Kadritzke

On Sunday, the main association for cinephilia was founded. He is driven, among other things by the concern for the young generation of children. But this concern seems unfounded, at least in the generations' demonstrations. Again and again films here reach a large young and enthusiastic audience. And this is taught in the most beautiful way: "Goldie" , the latest work by Sam de Jong ("Prins"), looks like a Dardennes film with Snapchat filter. The social hardships, the futile dreams, all this is narrated in the story of precarious teenager Goldie (Slick Woods) and her two little sisters, whom she suddenly has to take care of. However, brightly-colored animations and an extremely charismatic lead actress pump him up with a liveliness that counteracts any genre-starvation. Hannah Pilarczyk

Because of love, Frank Beauvais once moved to Alsace. When that's gone, the director is still there. And with him hundreds of films, books, records. Barricaded in a depressive uniformity that consists, among other things, of watching several films every day, Beauvais accompanies the world events from his shell, pursuing various terrorist attacks and sinking into himself. He devours a total of four hundred films between April and October 2016; they provide the visual material of this processed phase of life. Underlaid with a diary-like essay, Beauvais opens the doors to a sad, sensitive and rich world in "Ne croyez surtout pas que je hurle" , which is brightened up by short, friendly visits. Then, finally, announces a move. Frank Beauvais goes back to Paris. Carolin Weidner

"Buddies" (Panorama 40) is a movie that had no time to lose. In nine days, Arthur J. Bressan filmed his quick-written two-piece piece about an isolated AIDS patient and a volunteer ("Buddy") and presented it in 1985 amid a paralyzed gay scene and an ignorant policy, two years before he himself admitted to the disease Victim fell. He believed that only a feature film could raise awareness of the theme, relying on music, good actors, melodramatic aggravation, and a sensitive film language that eroded the relationship between the two men, giving them freedom of movement. For 33 years there was no money and opportunities to digitize "Buddies", for which a film rental company was founded in Germany in 1985 in order to bring it to the public faster than the Berlinale. As a masterpiece of tender men's film, "Buddies" is now a rediscovery - and a current call to solidarity and to be touchable. Jan Künemund

In the Mongolian steppe lies the naked corpse of a woman, ice cold, the wind sweeps over it. A young police officer is turned off to guard the crime scene, and in turn a shepherdess guards him: she uses her rifle to drive out a she-wolf who wants to fetch the meat in order to get her boys through. Everything is interconnected here, and the two park benches that stand bizarrely in the endless expanse only emphasize that nature is in charge. "Öndög" by Chinese director Wang Quan-an ("Tula's Wedding", competition) is a conceivably laconic meditation on life and death, birth and rebirth. In the steppe, there is Death Metal, there is sex around the campfire, a lamb is slaughtered, a calf born, a child conceived. A cycle from the Mesozoic to the present day. A circle, however, which one can deftly reach under the arms, as the shepherdess, this strong, quiet heroine, proves. Oliver Kaever

The filmmaker Hassan Fazili is threatened with death by the Taliban. With his wife and two daughters he flees from Afghanistan first to Tajikistan, then on the Ostbalkanroute direction Germany. The family keeps their perennial "Journey to the Edge of Hell" on mobile phones. Her film "Midnight Traveler" (Panorama) shows images that do not yet exist in the abstract refugee discourse and uses cinematic intelligence to record human reactions to inhuman states: waiting, smuggling of people, Nazi attacks. How this family is thrown back on nothing but itself and finds a lifeline in making pictures is shocking and touching. Not until the father films the daughter dancing to Michael Jackson in the dorm: "They do not really care about us." Jan Künemund

"Tandaradei ...". On the threshold of the narrative Ingrid Caven recites a poem by Walther von der Vogelweide. Sometimes she sings too. Or she howls with the wolf. Rita Azevedo Gomes explains in "A Portuguesa" (Forum), her colorful adaptation of Robert Musil's novella of the same name, all action space to the stage, the diorama and paintings - with hints of Dutch painting, such as Vermeer and van Eyck. While Mr. von Ketten is at war with him year after year, his wife, who has been remanded from Portugal, spends time on a ruined castle reading, drawing, singing and making strange sculptures. In doing so, she steadily consolidates her place by literally "sitting out". "A Portuguesa" is a pure image viewing, the figures are staggering into the depth, every thing has its place, even the language is objectively in space. Only the animals do what they want. Esther Buss

Ten-year-old schoolchildren rehearse for the big theater performance before the holidays. They dance, sing and recite poetry. The teacher is ambitious, the required gestures and feelings are far too big, the nervousness increases. In the middle of an exercise in the event of a terrorist attack instead. Fears are fueled and translate into a feverish dream mood, which combines with the erotic awakening of Daniel. He saw a classmate naked and is ashamed. His friend wants to dance tango with him. In the end, Fischer-Dieskau sings Schubert's litany on the feast of all souls. In "Daniel Fait Face" (Generation), the fascinating feature film debut of Marine Atlas, time stands still, and consciousness becomes as sharp as the seemingly sober images. A film that tiptoes very confidently to circling feelings for which you have no words at the age of ten. Jan Künemund

After half of "African Mirror" (Forum) are the doubts why you should look at this, tangible. Why should one keep looking at the racist images of René Gardi from Africa made by the Swiss in the fifties and sixties? Why listen to his comments on the "noble savage"? Two minutes later, when a shocking decisive information about Gardi has been reached, you know it all the more clearly. In his brilliant montage of Gardi's own archive material, texts and images, Mischa Hedinger refuses to comment and instead lets the material talk about and against his maker. A sovereign film on so many levels. Hannah Pilarczyk

Skateboards, Gangsta Rap, Camcorder: Jonah Hill's directorial debut "Mid90s" (Panorama) is bursting with timestamps, but does not look nostalgic on its own growing up in the LA of the nineties. Personal memories for the 35-year-old actor are but loose guides to tell his story about Wuschelkopf Stevie, who has to find his place in the new cool circle of friends. And being cool is hard work, this movie tells us, showing a close look not just at the specific milieu, but also at the subtle codes and mechanisms that make the boy a man. At the same time, and that's what makes the film so special, Hill seems to have a crush on each of his boys - and leaves his amateur actors all the freedom to bring new life to the conventions of the coming-of-age genre. Till Kadritzke

Attuning big cinemas with a grand gesture, that's probably what opening films are supposed to do. The Independent Week of Criticism defies this expectation, renounces the lute and the unique, and for that very reason programs the much nicer opening film than the spectacle on Potsdamer Platz. "Nakorn-Sawan" approaches the fragile concepts of remembrance and grief in suitably hybrid form: filmmaker Puangsoi Aksornsawang leaves documentary material from her single father in Thailand to run, then she begins to use a fictive family at the mother's funeral as a second narrative thread to stage. The loss of the mother is real, Aksornsawang has experienced it himself. Truly, however, their narration is on both levels, because the fiction jumps to the documentation here, supports them in the painful saying and pointing and offers a kind of comfort - in the film, but also through the film. Hannah Pilarczyk

Somewhere in the Midwest, the teenage world is almost as we know it from movies: high school, adolescent constipations, neurotic parents, motor congestion. Then a student disappears, and "Knives and Skin" (Generation) becomes a bright nightmare like you have never seen before. Make-up is applied, figures put on masks and throw themselves in disquieting costumes, the actresses ensemble assembles as a choir and makes dialogues from 1980s songs. At some point you realize how incredibly detail-loving this film is crafted, which seems to know no fixations and communicate in the colors rather than people. And those who do not notice the name of the director after the Berlinale did not understand the cinema: Jennifer Reeder. Jan Künemund

The abstract talk of "structural change" finds in "Bait" (Forum) concrete images of an irreconcilable confrontation. In a picturesque fishing village in Cornwall, fishermen knot thick knots, while wealthy city dwellers stow fine wine in the fridge. There is a dispute over a parking lot and a lobster, a hipster, just outwardly indistinguishable from the locals, freaks out because of machine noise in the morning. "You do not even have a boat," says one of them, and meets Martin at his most sensitive point - his brother has misused it for excursions. Mark Jenkins seeks not the analysis, but the expression: injury, anger, resentment, incomprehension. Also the assembly is brushed full of riot. The lamented loss of tradition finds its form in coarse-grained, hand-developed black and white images on 16mm. Film and fishing crafts as complicity. Esther Buss

One has to get used to the camcorder look of Peter Parlow's forum contribution "The Plagiarists" , everything seems so direct and immediate. The look of the film is also part of a general reflection on how life transforms into art, where people take the stuff out of which they make films and novels. In the first part, "The Plagiarists" (Forum) tells a rather banal story about a hip couple who spend a night with a stranger after a car breakdown. Half a year later, Alison makes a discovery with Karl Ove Knausgård, which just makes this evening appear in a different light. A plagiarism reproach is in the room, and ultimately the question of whether there is no plagiarism behind every truth - and behind every still so immediate camcorder image a sophisticated script. Till Kadritzke

What is a union? What is it worth to strike for? Jean-Gabriel Périot addresses these questions in "Nos défaites" (Forum) to the film course of a high school in Ivry-sur-Seine. The answers are very different. Only one knows what a union is, about half of the strike holds something. The inner moral pendulum that swings between "right" and "wrong" seems to have come to a standstill because of its complexity; the young faces are sometimes as sympathetic as they are apathetic. As an experiment, Périot infiltrates students with political cinema, reenacts scenes from Godard to Tanner, puts the communist manifesto in their hands, and the camera on top of that. The effect is astonishing: From the slack, radicals who have nothing to do with politics are suddenly called into uprising. Carolin Weidner

Women who are getting on well in turbo-capitalism are watching cinema critically - not only bear juror Sandra Hüller will remember her character from "Toni Erdmann". And perhaps the supposed insights into the consulting business are also the weakest moments of the film: Anyone who moves in this environment, which is both fundamentally likable and tolerably familiar, must have very good reasons to do so.

Kreutzer does not have these, but a wealth of charming inspirations. The Milieustudie is a quick family drama, Lola's paranoid schizophrenic sister Conny (Pia Hierzegger) has made a suicide attempt and is now in psychiatry. At the same time elements of a ghost story come into the film with Conny, because mysterious phone calls and letters reach Lola. Are these cries for help from Conny - or are they from Lola herself?

Christian Petzold's "Yella" and Michael Hanke's "Caché" branch out here, but in its fake trait, "The Ground Under the Foot" shares most with the ghost movies of Olivier Assayas. As with the French, here too the enigmatic stands next to the overdetermined, the banal next to the concise. It does not have to be coherent, the charm of this mixture consists in its disagreement.

sistersandbrothermitevski / Berlinale

"God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya" with Zorica Nusheva

On the contrary, Teona Strugar Mitevska. In her competition contribution, the sympathies are already paraphrased with the title mentioned above: main character Petrunya is God - even if it seems at first as if she rather a 32-year-old loser who is unemployed dependent on her parents in the Macedonian province.

After a particularly humiliating interview, Petrunya slips past a group of men performing a religious ritual. In the local river, a cross is sunk by the priest. Those who save it from the floods may keep it and enjoy the blessing of the church. Actually, this ritual is intended only for men, but following a daring impulse Petrunya jumps after the men and grabs the cross.

It is an act of self-empowerment that only has consequences for men. The other swimmers are outraged by Petrunya, even at home they are harassed by police and mobb. When she is led away without being charged, unimagined energies are finally mobilized in Petrunya.

With its straightforward identification offer , the consensus Patriarchate as well as its courageous humor, "God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya" is the kind of film that is always celebrated with the utmost gratitude at the Berlinale. The brutal poetry and gentle satire of Malgorzata Szumowska's previous year's triumph "The Mask" (theatrical release: March 14) misses Mitevska by far, but her rousing actress Zorica Nusheva could go home with a Silver Bear.

In 2017, Agnieszka Holland accepted a prize for her bizarre thriller-fun "Die Spur". Now, with "Mr. Jones," she lays out a two-and-a-half-hour hunter who has less originality but more agenda. Because one has to wonder why she is telling the true story of the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones, who was the first to report on the devastating famine in Ukraine that Stalin had to answer for.

In fact, the film is more than blatantly indicting that the West is now guilty of a similar yield to the Russian regime as it was then when it insisted on holding Stalin as a negotiating partner and of the millions of starvation victims in Ukraine, including Jones reported, initially did not want to know anything.

According to the film, the skepticism about Jones's eyewitness accounts has lasted so long, according to the article by "New York Times" correspondent Walter Duranty, who was blackmailed by Moscow and denied any aberrations in the USSR. "Duranty has not been denied his Pulitzer Prize to this day," appears at the end of "Mr. Jones." Whether the film now leads to its denial or just further fueled the fury of a state-controlled "lying press"? Either way, Agnieszka Holland's film is one of the most momentous ones of the festival.