James Franco, Zachary Quinto star in 'I Am Michael'
LONDON — Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section has revealed its first 19 films, which include Hal Hartley’s latest “Ned Rifle,” and “I Am Michael,” in which James Franco stars as a gay rights activist who becomes an anti-gay Christian pastor.
Hartley, who presented “Henry Fool” in 1997 and “Fay Grim” in 2007, concludes his trilogy with “Ned Rifle,” which the section refers to as a masterpiece.
Justin Kelly delivers his directorial debut, “I Am Michael,” which was co-produced by Gus Van Sant. Pic, which preems at Sundance, also stars Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts and Charlie Carver.
Director Mark Christopher presents “54 — The Director’s Cut,” 17 years after the film’s premiere. The original movie — about the legendary New York nightclub Studio 54 — was heavily edited by its investors.
Films from East Asia make a strong showing, with a number of modern history movies that could be labelled “national traumas.” Pics include “Paradise in Service,” in which Taiwanese director Doze Niu Chen-Zer presents a difficult chapter in East Asian history: the running of brothels to keep up the morale of armed forces in the battle against Mao. J.K. Youn’s South Korean epic “Ode to My Father” investigates the repercussions of the Korean War and its impact on the country today.
Satirists, anarchists and pranksters The Yes Men, who won the Panorama audience award in 2009, will be back in Berlin for the third time with “The Yes Men Are Revolting,” which focuses on the Copenhagen Climate Conference, and oil giant Shell.
Raoul Peck delivers his latest work in Panorama, the Haitian-French-Norwegian co-production “Murder in Pacot,” based on a screenplay by Pascal Bonitzer. The film is a character piece set against the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, which looks with bitter rage at class distinctions in Haitian society.
One film from Latin America has been confirmed so far: Aldo Garay’s “The New Man.” Roberto, a boy from Nicaragua, finds himself with foster parents in Uruguay. When he decides to change his gender, he is confronted with the limits of tolerance in leftist society. Pic is a co-production from Uruguay, Chile and Nicaragua.
Child abuse is the subject of several pics, including “The New Man,” as well as films from Austria (“The Last Summer of the Rich” by Peter Kern), Switzerland (“Dora or the Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents” by Stina Werenfels), Canada (“Chorus” by Francois Delisle) and the Czech Republic (“Daniel’s World” by Veronika Liskova).
Norway’s “Out of Nature” by Ole Giæver and Marte Vold is a zeitgeisty parable about a man’s search for identity and joy in life. The young father needs a break from parental bliss: he retreats to the mountains to rethink what he wants from life. Sweden “Dyke Hard” is a “zany, quasi musical of post-punk lesbo rock’n’roll,” Panorama said. Bitte Anderson directs.
“B-Movie — Lust & Sound in West-Berlin,” helmed by Jörg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck and Heiko Lange, unearths forgotten gems from the 1980s, including tracks by Gudrun Gut, Blixa Bargeld and Nick Cave.
In “Fassbinder — To Love Without Demands,” Danish filmmaker Christian Braad Thomsen recalls an afternoon spent with the filmmaker in contemplative mood.
In “Stories of Our Lives,” Jim Chuchu looks at the influence of evangelical organizations from the U.S. in Kenya, and the hatred against homosexuals that has been ignited.
In 3D documentary “Iraqi Odyssey,” Iraqi-Swiss filmmaker Samir delivers a highly complex history of Iraq as revealed by events in a family.
Panorama’s Teddy Awards will be held on Feb. 13, with the Special Teddy going to Udo Kier. “Almost no other actor has crossed, fused, redrawn and extended the many boundaries of cinematic art with such ease,” Panorama said.
54: The Director’s Cut
By Mark Christopher
With Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek, Mike Myers, Sela Ward, Mark Ruffalo
By François Delisle
With Sébastien Ricard, Fanny Mallette, Pierre Curzi, Geneviève Bujold
Der letzte Sommer der Reichen (The Last Summer of the Rich)
By Peter Kern
With Amira Casar, Nicole Gerdon, Winfried Glatzeder
Dora oder Die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern (Dora or The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents)
By Stina Werenfels
With Victoria Schulz, Jenny Schily, Lars Eidinger, Urs Jucker
By Bitte Andersson
With Alle Eriksson, Peggy Sands, M. Wågensjö, Iki Gonzales Magnusson, Lina Kurttila
Gukje Shijang (Ode to My Father)
By JK Youn
with Hwang Jung-min, Kim Yunjin
I Am Michael
By Justin Kelly
With James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts, Charlie Carver
Jun Zhong Le Yuan (Paradise in Service)
By Doze Niu Chen-Zer
With Ethan Juan, Wan Qian, Chen Jianbin, Chen Yi-Han
Meurtre à Pacot (Murder in Pacot)
By Raoul Peck
With Alex Descas, Ayo, Thibault Vinçon, Lovely Kermonde Fifi, Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin
Mot Naturen (Out of Nature)
By Ole Giæver, Marte Vold
With Ole Giæver, Marte Magnusdotter Solem, Rebekka Nystadbakk, Ellen Birgitte Winther, Sievert Giaever Solem
Ned Rifle (Ned Rifle)
By Hal Hartley
With Liam Aiken, Martin Donovan, Aubrey Plaza, Parkey Posey, Thomas Jay Ryan
B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin
By Jörg A. Hoppe, Klaus Maeck, Heiko Lange
With Mark Reeder, Marius Weber
Danieluv svet (Daniel’s World)
By Veronika Liskova
El hombre nuevo (The New Man)
By Aldo Garay
Fassbinder – lieben ohne zu fordern (Fassbinder – To Love without Demands)
By Christian Braad Thomsen
with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Irm Hermann, Harry Baer, Lilo Pempeit
Stories of Our Lives
By Jim Chuchu
With Kelly Gichohi, Paul Ogola, Tim Mutungi, Mugambi Nthinga, Rose Njenga
The Yes Men Are Revolting
By Laura Nix, Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno