Fest screens war films

BERLIN — The upcoming Berlin Film Festival is going political ‘60s style with a special series commemorating the 40th anniversary of Berlin’s Vietnam Congress — a student demonstration that gave birth to the German student movement.

The Berlinale Special Series, “War at Home — the Vietnam War in U.S. Cinema,” will include a number of works that challenged and reflected on U.S. military interventions, including Robert Altman’s “MASH,” Mike Nichols’ “Catch 22” and Hal Ashby’s Jane Fonda and Jon Voight starrer “Coming Home.”

Yet the series will also present what is likely the only Hollywood film to support the U.S.’ aggression in Southeast Asia, Ray Kellogg’s “The Green Berets,” starring John Wayne.

Staged by the Socialist German Student Association in February 1968, the Vietnam Congress marked the beginning of the student protest movement that became known as “May 1968.” The event ignited the German student movement, which gradually moved its main focus from the war in Southeast Asia to politics at home and Germany’s post-war history.

Also unspooling as part of the series are “Winter Soldier,” the 1972 documentary by the Winterfilm Collective about a Vietnam veterans conference held in Detroit in 1971 in which former G.I.s testified about the atrocities they committed and witnessed in Vietnam; Emile de Antonio’s 1968 docu “In the Year of the Pig”; and Frederick Wiseman’s 1971 docu “Basic Training,” which examines the transformation of young recruits into killing machines at a Kentucky boot camp.

The film lineup complements a series of events accompanying the exhibition “’68 — Brennpunkt Berlin” organized by the Federal Center for Political Education at the Amerika Haus in Berlin. Running through May, the exhibition includes readings, panel discussions, eye-witness talks about the student movement and a comprehensive series of 1968 films, which include repeat screenings of a number of the films from the Berlinale series.

Meanwhile, the fest’s Forum Expanded section will again augment the Forum sidebar with exhibitions, films and video programs, performances and discussions.

The Forum Expanded boasts more than 50 international artists, filmmakers, musicians and performers looking to explore the connections between film and other artforms.

Works screening in the Arsenal cinema at Potsdamer Platz include “Years When I Was a Child Outside (Family Multi-Channel),” by Filipino artist John Torres; Franziska Cordes’ installation “Mirage (Club Silencio)”; “Spaziergang am Rand der Demokratie” (A Walk on the Edge of Democracy), by Joerg Hommer; and “One Hand on Open,” by Stefan Pente and William Wheeler.

At the screening of Heinz Emigholz’s films “The Basis of Make-up I-III” at Hamburger Bahnhof, actors will read aloud entries from the artist’s diaries and notebooks, while in Hila Peleg’s film “Crime Against Art,” part of the contemporary art scene accuses itself of political failure in a courtroom show.

Shai Heredia, the founder of the Experimenta fest in Bombay, will be on hand to trace the history of Indian experimental film up to the present.

John Torres and Khavn De La Cruz present and discuss Filipino avant-garde history from the 1980s, while Jerry Tartaglia is back for the second year in a row to present never-before-seen works by underground star Jack Smith: “Sinbad of Baghdad & Jack Smith Performances 1975-1985.”

The events and exhibitions will take place at a number of venues around town, including the Filmhaus am Potsdamer Platz, the Arsenal, the Museum fuer Film und Fernsehen, the Volkswagen Startklar Lounge, the Hamburger Bahnhof, the Canadian embassy and, for the first time, the Wilde Gallery.

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