The emphasis is on Europe for the pics in competition at this year’s Berlin Intl. Film Festival. Italy is particularly well represented, with four films unspooling in competition.
Films chosen for competition, says Berlin helmer Moritz de Hadeln, must be “good, original and something of interest to the public and the press.”
Marco Ferrari’s “La Casa Del Sorriso” stars Ingrid Thulin in a satiric look at an old-age home in southern Italy. “Ultra,” directed by Ricky Tognazzi, deals with football rowdies. Marco Belocchio’s “La Condanna” is about a night of passion that turns into an accusation of rape. An Italian film will also close the festival: Ettore Scola’s “Il Viaggio Di Capitan Fracassa,” about an Italian theatrical troupe touring Europe in the 17th century, pic stars Ornella Muti.
Two films will represent Germany this year: “Erfolg” (Success), director Franz Seitz’s adaptation of a Lionel Feuchtwanger novel starring Ernst Jacobi, Bruno Ganz, Jutta Speidel and Matthieu Carriere; and “Der Tangospieler” (The Tango Player), Roland Grafs DEFA-produced film about a man sent to prison by the East German police for playing a forbidden piano melody.
Switzerland also sends two pics to Berlin. To celebrate that country’s 700th-anni jubilee, there will be a special showing of Hans Trommer’s 1941 production, “Romeo Und Julia Auf Dem Dorfe.” Markus Imhoof’s “Der Berg” (The Mountain), with Susanne Lothar in the lead role, is the Swiss competition entry.
From France, Claude Berri’s “Uranus” opens the festival. Pic deals with sentiments in a French village following the war and stars Gerard Depardieu, Philippe Noiret and Michel Blanc. French helmer Jacques Doillon is back in Berlin this year with “Le Petit Criminel,” a Cinemascope epic about a juvenile delinquent. The third Gallic film in competition is Olivier Schatzky’s first directorial effort, “Fortune Express.”
The British films set to unspool are “The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe,” directed by Simon Callow and starring Vanessa Redgrave and Keith Carradine; and Christine Edzard’s “The Fool” (out of competition).
Spanish film “Amantes,” directed by Vincente Aranda, depicts a crime of passion. “Isiches Menes Tou Avgoustou” (Still Days In August) is the Greek entry from helmer Pantelis Voulgaris. The life of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swede who tried to save the lives of Hungarian Jews during World War II, is presented in the Swedish entry “God Aften, Mr. Wallenberg” (Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg) by Kjell Grede. From Ireland comes “The Miracle” by Neil Jordan, about summer adventures in the Dublin area.
Scouring smaller countries
Films from smaller countries were actively sought by the selection committee this year, according to de Hadeln. “We have to find out what we can do for countries which have weak film industries because the countries are small or the languages are not spoken worldwide. We have a great duty there, and I think we will fulfill it.” Hence an entry from Czechoslovakia, “Ked’ Hviezdy Boli Cervene” (When the Stars Were Still Red) by Dusan Trancik, plus a passel from Latin America, including Nicholas Echevarria’s historical Mexican epic “Cabeza De Vaca” and “Amelia Lopes O’Neill,” Valeria Sarmiento’s Chilean melodrama starring Laura del Sol and Franco Nero.
Masud Kimiai’s “Dandan-e Mar” (Snake Fang) is an Iranian production about the consequences of the Iran-Iraq war. From Hong Kong come two films: “The Big Mill” by Wu Ziniu, about the effect of Communism on a Chinese village in the ’30s; and Tian Zhuanzhuan’s “Li Lianying,” a story of one of the Emperor’s eunuchs; latter pic will play out of competition.
The Yanks always make a big showing in Berlin, and this year is no exception. “The Godfather Part III” by Francis Coppola is set, as are Bruce Beresford’s “Mr. Johnson” and “Dances With Wolves,” Kevin Costner’s directorial debut.
“The Russia House” by Fred Schepisi deals with American-Soviet relations. Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer star in this adaptation of John Le Carre’s novel. “The Silence Of The Lambs” by Jonathan Demme is a thriller in which Jodie Foster plays a young policewoman seeking a brutal woman-killer.
The Soviet Union’s Lenfilm production “Satana” is the only Russo film in competition. Boris Aristov’s pic tells the story of the kidnapping of a child and the act’s social background.
Market credo: ‘Film is business’
The European Film Market is one of de Hadeln’s top priorities for a “working festival.” He explains: “Film is business, and business can be made here. I have invested a lot of time in this market, and there seem to be real results coming back.” A record number of films will unspool this year at the market’s venue, the Cine Center.
De Hadeln organized a pan-Berlin festival last year at the last minute, following the fall of the Wall. He says that running a festival in the enlarged city runs into risks. “We will not start dispersing the festival in such a way that it loses its heart. I want to establish a maximum distance between the locations in which the festival is taking place. There’s a great danger that you can have one location so isolated from another that you lose the sense of a film festival. We must avoid this absolutely.”
This year, Berlin is a unified city. Visitors will find no trace of Wall to be seen, and they will not have to use their fest credentials or passport to cross into East Berlin.