'Kid-Thing,' 'Sleepless Knights,' 'Francine' unspool in sidebar

BERLIN — The March 11 tsunami and subsequent nuclear catastrophe in Japan is the focus of three Japanese films screening in this year’s Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival.

The Forum sidebar showcases a cross section of arthouse, avant-garde and experimental cinema from around the world.

Showing a strong impact by the Fukushima disaster, this year’s lineup includes Fujiwara Toshi’s “No Man’s Zone,” which takes viewers into the contaminated zone around the nuclear reactors, evoking images of an invisible apocalypse.

Likewise, Funahashi Atsushi’s “Nuclear Nation” presents a portrait of a mayor without a town who is desperately trying to keep together a community scattered across different emergency shelters, while in “Friends After 3.11,” Iwai Shunji discusses the political, economic and social situation of a country in a state of dependence.

American independent cinema also has a strong presence in this year’s program. David Zellner’s fairytale-like “Kid-Thing” explores the day-to-day life and fantasies of a neglected little girl, while Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s “Francine” follows a shy woman (played by Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo) recently released from jail.

In So Yong Kim’s “For Ellen,” a neglectful rock-musician (played by Paul Dano) attempts to build a relationship with his young daughter.

In Ann-Kristin Reyels’ German entry “Formentera,” a young couple on holiday is confronted with the flower-power ideals of their parents’ generation, only to realize how much their own ideas about life diverge from one another.

Another German pic set in Spain, Stefan Butzmuehlen and Cristina Diz’s “Sleepless Knights,” tells the story of gay love in the provinces.

A total of 38 films will unspool in the main Forum program, including 26 world premieres and eight international premieres.

The Berlinale runs Feb. 9-19.

FORUM: MAIN PROGRAM

“The Last Friday,” Yahya Alabdallah (Jordan/UAE)

“The Woman in the Septic Tank,” Marlon N. Rivera (Philippines)

“Avalon,” Axel Petersen (Sweden)

“Soldier/Citizen,” Silvina Landsmann (Israel)

“Bestiaire,” Denis Cote (Canada/France)

“Negotiating Love,” Calle Overweg (Germany)

“The Wait,” Rodrigo Pla (Uruguay/Mexico/France)

“Normal School,” Celina Murga (Argentina)

“Espoir voyage,” Michel K. Zongo, France/Burkina Faso)

“For Ellen,” So Yong Kim (U.S.)

“Formentera,” Ann-Kristin Reyels (Germany)

“Francine,” Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky (U.S./Canada)

“Friends After 3.11,” Iwai Shunji (Japan)

“Living/Building,” Clemence Ancelin (France)

“Hemel,” Sacha Polak (Netherlands/Spain)

“Winter Nomads,” Manuel von Stuerler (Switzerland)

“Jaures,” Vincent Dieutre (France)

“Choked,” Kim Joong-hyun (South Korea)

“Our Homeland,” Yang Yonghi (Japan)

“Kid-Thing,” David Zellner (U.S.)

“The End of Puberty,” Kimura Shoko (Japan)

“Condition,” Thomas Heise (Germany)

“No Man’s Zone,” Fujiwara Toshi (Japan/France)

“Nuclear Nation,” Funahashi Atsushi (Japan)

“Parabeton — Pier Luigi Nervi and Roman Concrete,” Heinz Emigholz (Germany)

“Modest Reception,” Mani Haghighi (Iran)

“A Night Too Young,” Olmo Omerzu (Czech Republic/Slovenia)

“Revision,” Philip Scheffner (Germany)

“Salsipuedes,” Mariano Luque (Argentina)

“Secret,” Przemyslaw Wojcieszek (Poland)

“Sleepless Knights,” Stefan Butzmuehlen, Cristina Diz (Germany)

“Golden Slumbers,” Davy Chou (France/Cambodia)

“Spain,” Anja Salomonowitz (Austria)

“Beyond the Hill,” Emin Alper (Turkey/Greece)

“Keep Me Upright,” Zoe Chantre (France)

“Everybody in Our Family,” Radu Jude (Romania/Netherlands)

“What Is Love,” Ruth Mader (Austria)

“Tomorrow,” Andrey Gryazev (Russia)

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