Isolation, escape among themes explored

Isolation, escape, and the complexities of communication and relationships are among themes explored by the first 12 titles selected by the Berlinale’s Forum sidebar, announced Thursday.

South Korea is strongly repped in the fest’s new cinema, avant-garde and experimental section, which also has entries from the U.S., Switzerland, the Netherlands and Romania.

Among the Korean films, described as a cinematic barometer of the state of a country facing increasingly harder times, are “My Dear Enemy,” by Lee Yoon-ki; Roh Gyeong-tae’s sparse and silent “Land of Scarecrows”; and directorial debuts “Members of the Funeral,” by Baek Seung-bin, and Lee Suk-gyung’s “The Day After.”

U.S.-based So Yong Kim also looks at her native South Korea in her family drama “Treeless Mountain,” about two sisters coming to terms with the realities of life. Also unspooling is “Treeless Mountain” co-producer Bradley Rust Gray’s own film, “The Exploding Girl,” about best friends whose relationship is complicated after they become lovers.

Other U.S. indie productions world preeming in Forum are Andrew Bujalski’s “Beeswax” and Matthew Hysell’s “Marin Blue,” set against the backdrop of Los Angeles’ home foreclosures.

They join Esther Rots’ drama “Kan door huid heen” (Can Go Through Skin), and Eugenie Jansen’s “Calimucho,” both from the Netherlands; Sonja Wyss’ directorial debut “Winterstilte” (Winter Silence), from Switzerland; and Radu Jude’s feature film debut “The Happiest Girl in the World,” a Romanian-Dutch co-production.

The Berlin Film Festival runs Feb. 5-15.

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