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Berlinale’s Forum Puts Spotlight on North and South American Movies

The Forum section of the Berlin International Film Festival revealed its lineup Wednesday, with 43 films in its main program, 29 of which are world premieres and 10 are international premieres. The Special Screenings will be announced separately.

North American cinema once again has a strong presence in Forum. Alex Ross Perry’s “Golden Exits” tells the story of a young Australian woman who comes to New York for a few months, and unwittingly throws the lives of two couples into disarray.

“Menashe,” the feature debut by Joshua Z. Weinstein, is set in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and is almost entirely in Yiddish. The eponymous protagonist fights to keep custody of his son following the death of his wife. “The Hasidic community demands he lead a more ordered life and find a new spouse, neither of which comes easily to this kind but awkward loner,” according to a festival statement.

Amman Abbasi is showing his debut feature, “Dayveon,” which depicts “a search for brotherhood in an African-American community in the rural South.” It tells the story of a 13-year-old who has “lost direction following the death of his brother, meaning that being initiated into a local gang now appears a necessary step toward becoming a man.”

Jeremy Levine and Landon Van Soest’s documentary “For Ahkeem” focuses on Daje, who lives with her single mother in St. Louis. Like many teenagers in the neighborhood, “she has problems at school, while her everyday life is shaken again and again by the violent deaths of her friends.”

Another regional focus is Latin America, with six works from the continent “exhibiting a wide range of different formal approaches.”

Davi Pretto’s “Rifle” is a modern Western set in the plains of southern Brazil. “A taciturn former soldier is employed to guard a small landholder’s estate. But when an agricultural company seeks to buy up the land, he reacts in truly drastic fashion.”

In “Río Verde: El tiempo de los Yakurunas” (Green River: The Time of the Yakurunas), Peruvian brothers Alvaro und Diego Sarmiento “find stunning images to convey the leisurely flow of life in a verdant river landscape.” The film is “an attentive observation” of the daily routines of the indigenous inhabitants of Peru’s Amazon region.

In “Casa Roshell,” Chilean director Camila José Donoso portrays an unusual institution in the Mexican capital, a place where men learn to be women during the day, before the parties get going at night. “All manner of boundaries blur in this tiny utopia: between gay, straight and bi, male and female, past and present, reality and fiction.”

Vladimir Durán’s debut feature “Adiós entusiasmo” (So Long Enthusiasm) is both “realistic and surreal,” and one of three Argentinian films showing in the main program. Ten-year-old Axel lives with his mother and three sisters in an apartment in Buenos Aires. “They’d be a perfectly normal family if only the mother weren’t imprisoned in one of the rooms.”

“El teatro de la desaparición” (The Theater of Disappearance), directed by sculptor and installation artist Adrián Villar Rojas, presents “a hypnotic triptych, which depicts latent states of war, drawing on sensual images seemingly only tenuously connected that employ disparate styles, and jump freely from continent to continent.”

Albertina Carri’s “Cuatreros” (Rustlers) examines Argentina’s complex recent past: Isidro Velázquez was a bandit and dissident active in the 1960s whose story formed both the basis for a sociology book by her father, Roberto Carri, and a feature film that is now lost. “The director draws on archive images to bring her own biography into alignment with wider historical events.”

The many strong documentaries in the program includes Ann Carolin Renninger and René Frölke’s “Aus einem Jahr der Nichtereignisse” (From a Year of Non-Events). It follows a year in the life of a 90-year-old north German farmer, who lives alone.

Heinz Emigholz returns to Forum with his “Streetscapes” series, which loosely links together four separate films. “2+2=22 [The Alphabet]” documents the recording sessions for the album “ABC” by electronic music group Kreidler in Tbilisi, Georgia. “Bickels [Socialism]” examines the architecture of Samuel Bickels, who created numerous kibbutz buildings and museums in Israel. “Streetscapes [Dialogue]” is “a fictionalized dialogue about filmmaking based on the protocols of a mammoth psychoanalysis session,” and was shot in buildings by Julio Vilamajó, Eladio Dieste and Arno Brandlhuber in Uruguay and Berlin, some of which then pop up again in the final chapter, “Dieste [Uruguay]”.

Nicolas Wackerbarth’s feature “Casting” is also dedicated to the process of filmmaking. “Director Vera is unwilling to compromise when it comes to finding the right lead actress for a Fassbinder remake for television. Acting assistant Gerwin delivers dialogues with a bevy of famous actresses and soon realizes that this could be his big chance.” The cast includes Ursina Lardi, Andrea Sawatzki, Corinna Kirchhoff, Judith Engel and Marie-Lou Sellem.


“2+2=22 [The Alphabet]” by Heinz Emigholz, Germany – World Premiere

“Adiós entusiasmo” (So Long Enthusiasm) by Vladimir Durán, Argentina/Colombia – WP

“At Elske Pia” (Loving Pia) by Daniel Joseph Borgmann, Denmark – WP

“Aus einem Jahr der Nichtereignisse” (From a Year of Non-Events) by Ann Carolin Renninger, René Frölke, Germany – WP

“Autumn, Autumn” by Jang Woo-jin, South Korea – International Premiere

“Barrage” by Laura Schroeder, Luxembourg/Belgium/France – WP

“Bickels [Socialism]” by Heinz Emigholz, Germany/Israel – WP

“Casa Roshell” by Camila José Donoso, Mexico/Chile – WP

“Casting” by Nicolas Wackerbarth, Germany – WP

“Chemi bednieri ojakhi” (My Happy Family) by Nana & Simon, Germany/Georgia/France

“Cuatreros” (Rustlers) by Albertina Carri, Argentina – IP

“Dayveon” by Amman Abbasi, U.S. – IP

“Dieste [Uruguay]” by Heinz Emigholz, Germany – WP

“Drôles d’oiseaux” (Strange Birds) by Elise Girard, France – IP

“For Ahkeem” by Jeremy Levine, Landon Van Soest, U.S. – WP

“Golden Exits” by Alex Ross Perry, U.S. – IP

“Jassad gharib” (Foreign Body) by Raja Amari, Tunisia/France

“Loktak Lairembee” (Lady of the Lake) by Haobam Paban Kumar, India

“Maman Colonelle” (Mama Colonel) by Dieudo Hamadi, Democratic Republic of Congo/France – WP

“El mar la mar” by J.P. Sniadecki, Joshua Bonnetta, U.S. – WP

“El mar nos mira de lejos” (The Sea Stares at Us from Afar) by Manuel Muñoz Rivas, Spain/The Netherlands – WP

“Menashe” by Joshua Z Weinstein, U.S./Israel – IP

“Mittsu no hikari” (Three Lights) by Kohki Yoshida, Japan – WP

“Mon rot fai” (Railway Sleepers) by Sompot Chidgasornpongse, Thailand

“Motherland” (Bayang Ina Mo) by Ramona S. Diaz, U.S./The Philippines – IP

“Motza el hayam” (Low Tide) by Daniel Mann, Israel/France – WP

“Mzis qalaqi” (City of the Sun) by Rati Oneli, Georgia/U.S./The Netherlands/Qatar/U.S. – WP

“Newton” by Amit V Masurkar, India – WP

“Occidental” by Neïl Beloufa, France – IP

“Qiu” (Inmates) by Ma Li, China – WP

“Rifle” by Davi Pretto, Brazil/Germany – IP

“Río Verde. El tiempo de los Yakurunas” (Green River. The Time of the Yakurunas) by Alvaro Sarmiento, Diego Sarmiento, Peru – WP

“Shu’our akbar min el hob” (A Feeling Greater than Love) by Mary Jirmanus Saba, Lebanon – WP

“Somniloquies” by Verena Paravel, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, France/U.S. – WP

“Spell Reel” by Filipa César, Germany/Portugal/France/Guinea-Bissau – WP

“Streetscapes [Dialogue]” by Heinz Emigholz, Germany – WP

“Tamaroz” (Simulation) by Abed Abest, Iran – WP

“El teatro de la desaparición” (The Theater of Disappearance) by Adrián Villar Rojas, Argentina – WP

“Tiere” (Animals) by Greg Zglinski, Switzerland/Austria/Poland – WP

“Tigmi n Igren” (House in the Fields) by Tala Hadid, Morocco/Qatar – WP

“Tinselwood” by Marie Voignier, France – WP

“Werewolf” by Ashley McKenzie, Canada – IP

“Yozora ha itsu demo saikou mitsudo no aoiro da” (The Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue) by Yuya Ishii, Japan – WP

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