Generation, the Berlin Film Festival’s section for youth-centric movies, has unveiled its lineup, with a majority of its films directed by women.
Sixty per cent of the films are directed by women, and many of them feature “strong willed” female protagonists, the festival said, such as “Ninjababy,” in which Rakel is six months pregnant, but doesn’t want to become a mother. Other such films include “Short Vacation,” “Mission Ulja Funk” and “Nelly Rapp – Monster Agent.”
Many of the films immerse themselves in the worlds of young people, such as “The White Fortress,” “Stop-Zemlia,” “The Fam” and “Fighter.”
Generation features eight world premieres across its two competition programs, Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus, with the films coming from 17 countries. With four contributions each, productions from the Asian and Scandinavian countries are particularly well represented.
“The 15 films in this year’s Generation selection are an open invitation to go beyond the obvious, the dominant, and the loud and to take a closer look at what’s beneath the surface,” says section head Maryanne Redpath. “They offer space and time to reflect upon the grandeur radiating from the diverse worlds young people are experiencing, which is often signified by the little things that mark their paths. The films offer a break to life as we know it right now.”
The following descriptions are courtesy of the Berlin Film Festival.
Dir: Tracey Deer
Cast: Kiawentiio, Rainbow Dickerson, Violah Beauvais, Paulina Alexis
All of a sudden, racism becomes a cruel reality in the life of 12-year-old Beans, whose real name is Tekahentahkhwa. The Mohawk-First Nations community to which she belongs is being threatened by white supremacists. Beans learns valuable lessons about defending both her own and her people’s rights, from her family as well as some tough new friends. The film is based on the director’s childhood memories of the 1990 Oka crisis in Québec.
“Ensilumi” (Any Day Now) (Finland). International premiere.
Dir: Hamy Ramezan
Cast: Aran-Sina Keshvari, Shahab Hosseini, Shabnam Ghorbani, Kimiya Eskandari
The asylum application of the Mehdipour family has been rejected; Ramin (13), his little sister and their parents can be deported by the Finnish authorities at any time. Despite their precarious situation as refugees, their everyday life is rich in loving family rituals, humor, and – for teenager Ramin – exciting discoveries along the way to growing up.
“Han Nan Xia Ri” (Summer Blur) (China)
Dir: Han Shuai (Debut film)
Cast: Gong Beibi, Huang Tian, Zhang Xinyuan, Yan Xingyue
Guo’s face is veiled in a delicate layer of wistfulness. She has to spend the summer alone in Wuhan with her aunt, who lives in poor conditions, while her mother leads a dazzling life in Shanghai. Being on the cusp of becoming a teenager, a terrible secret, the longing for love and safety and the fear of being abandoned are Guo’s constant companions.
“Jong chak yeok” (Short Vacation) (South Korea). International premiere.
Dir: Kwon Min-pyo, Seo Hansol (Debut film)
Cast: Seol Si-yeon, Bae Yeon-woo, Park So-jung, Han Song-hee
What do you look for when you are supposed to take a photo of the end of the world? Together, four school friends journey to explore the unknown outskirts of the big city of Seoul, equipped with an old-fashioned analogue camera and a film that only has 27 pictures. The task sharpens their view of the familiar and opens their eyes to themselves and each other.
“Last Days at Sea” (Philippines/Taiwan). Documentary. World premiere.
Dir: Venice Atienza (Debut film)
Reyboy’s world is the sparkling ocean, the hidden treasures on the long coast, the taste of honey rice. The filmmaker accompanies the Filipino boy in his fishing village by the sea as his life is about to change forever. A profound dialogue in thoughts and images about the beauty of the little things and saying goodbye.
“Mission Ulja Funk” (Germany/Luxemburg/Poland). World premiere.
Dir: Barbara Kronenberg (Debut film)
Cast: Romy Lou Janinhoff, Jonas Oeßel, Hildegard Schroedter, Luc Feit
Ulja (12) is an energetic, clever researcher who is never at a loss for a good saying. She does not want to miss the arrival of the asteroid she discovered. With her parents’ hearse, her accomplice Henk of the same age as the driver and her Russian-German grandmother in the back, a fast-paced road movie towards Belarus starts – always following the stars.
“Nelly Rapp – Monster Agent” (Sweden). International premiere.
Dir: Amanda Adolfsson
Cast: Matilda Gross, Lily Wahlsteen, Marianne Mörck, Johan Rheborg
Nelly wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps, as a monster agent. When she visits her uncle Hannibal, the door opens up to a hidden parallel world full of ghosts, monsters and Frankensteiners. But who should actually be regarded as a monster and which side will Nelly decide to take as an agent? The film is based on the successful Swedish children’s book series by the author Martin Widmark.
“Una escuela en Cerro Hueso” (A School in Cerro Hueso) (Argentina). World premiere.
Dir: Betania Cappato
Cast: Mara Bestelli, Pablo Seijo, Clementina Folmer, Irene Zequin
After numerous rejections, Ema’s parents finally find a safe place for their daughter who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. In the loving community of the new primary school in the small town on the river, Ema can silently observe and explore the world at her own pace. The film gently follows Ema’s small steps that evolve into magical moments.
“Cryptozoo” (U.S.) Animation. International premiere.
Dir: Dash Shaw
Cast: Lake Bell, Michael Cera, Zoe Kazan, Louisa Krause, Angeliki Papoulia
In an opulent fantasy world, humans fight for the existence of threatened and threatening creatures. In the style of psychedelic underground comics, filmmaker and comic artist Dash Shaw has designed a wild trip in which marginalization, social diversity, species protection and the power of the imagination all play a role.
“Fighter” (South Korea). International premiere.
Dir: Jéro Yun
Cast: Lim Seong-mi, Baek Seo-bin, Oh Kwang-rok, Lee Seung-yeon
As a North Korean in exile, Jina has no choice but to literally box her way through. With gentle force, she begins to stubbornly rebel against the everyday injustices which she experiences as an outsider from a disreputable country. While she has become accustomed to harshness, feelings such as tenderness or security are new to her. Her personal struggle on the way to recognition goes far beyond the boxing ring.
“From the Wild Sea” (Denmark). Documentary. World premiere.
Dir: Robin Petré. Debut film.
Weather conditions are becoming more extreme. A giant, stranded whale, seals with plastic in their bodies, oil-coated swans and dolphins that have been rammed by ships – these patients require emergency medical care. The director portrays the critical relationship between humans and wild animals and the consequences of climate change, in profound documental images which are more impactful than any explanation.
“La Mif” (The Fam) (Switzerland). World premiere.
Dir: Fred Baillif
Cast: Claudia Grob, Anaïs Uldry, Kassia Da Costa, Joyce Esther Ndayisenga, Charlie Areddy, Amélie Tonsi, Amandine Golay, Sara Tulu
Told episodically and bordering between the fictional and the documental, the film intimately interweaves the life stories of young women who no longer have a real home with their own families. They are given refuge in a temporary youth home, where they and their carers bond to form a new family. The Fam is a safe haven for wounded protagonists who do not spare themselves or others.
“Ninjababy” (Norway). World premiere.
Dir: Yngvild Sve Flikke
Cast: Kristine Kujath Thorp, Arthur Berning, Nader Khademi, Tora Dietrichson
A baby has lodged itself unnoticed in her stomach, and if there’s one thing that Rakel knows: She doesn’t want it. The life-hungry young woman has a blooming imagination and spends time illustrating her everyday life. Hence, the Ninjababy appears as a comic figure which accompanies Rakel through the madness that is called growing up.
“Stop-Zemlia” (Ukraine). World premiere.
Dir: Kateryna Gornostai (Debut film)
Cast: Maria Fedorchenko, Arsenii Markov, Yana Isaienko, Oleksandr Ivanov
Hanging out with friends, smoking a lot, spinning bottles and kissing, making mistakes, playing, refusing to accept, dreaming with open eyes – life as a teenager can be overwhelmingly beautiful and difficult at the same time. In her debut, the Ukrainian director composes a deeply emotional and multi-layered portrait of a generation whilst seamlessly flowing between the fictional and the documental.
“Tabija” (The White Fortress) (Canada/Bosnia and Herzegovina). World premiere.
Dir: Igor Drljača
Cast: Pavle Čemerikić, Sumeja Dardagan, Jasmin Geljo, Kerim Čutuna
What could be a beautiful fairy tale for some – boy meets girl – could also be the beginning of a horror film for Faruk. The young man is crushed between the dark world of his criminal cousins in Sarajevo and the discovery of love. The film powerfully visualizes and contrasts a harshness and tenderness experienced and dreamed.