Natalie Gravenor | Friday December 4th, 2015 | 12
The second edition of the Berlin Art Film Festival cheerfully disregards the tyranny of the premiere to assemble a selection of works old and new on “poetry, politics and porn“, as the festival motto boldly proclaims. The program not so much dissects the hot button topics of the day – although that function is certainly fulfilled with special sections focusing on refugees, “Homosexual Propaganda!“ and pioneer feminist filmmakers – as it articulates an “ego ideal“ of Berlin – progressive and even revolutionary, creative, stylish & sexy, inclusive.
The festival kicks off on Saturday, December 5, 8 p.m., at Kino Moviemento with a special screening dedicated to German theater and film actress Anne Ratte-Polle, known for her frequent cooperation with “Berlin school” helmers and other independent directors. Berlin Art Film Festival presents Romuald Karmakar’s controversial, scalding relationship drama “Nightsongs” (2004) which was booed upon in its premiere in the Berlinale competition. “Nightsongs” also features the late Frank Giering and is worth seeing for the incredibly intense performances by him and Ratte-Polle, but for other reasons, too (starting with the stunning cinematography by Fred Schuler). Preceding the feature is the short “Illusions” by Burhan Qurbani, who went on to direct the acclaimed docudrama “We Are Young, We Are Strong” about the 1992 neo-Nazi attacks on asylum seeker homes in Rostock.
Then, from December 10 until 13, expect a full immersion program with classics (Helke Sander’s “Redupers”, Bruce LaBruce‘s “Raspberry Reich”), short essay films, more Anne Ratte-Polle in LIFETIMESHORT, a tribute to Isa Genzken and recent films by students of the German Film and Television Academy (dffb), the legendary alma mater of Harun Farocki, Helke Sander, Christian Petzold, Wolfgang Becker, Detlev Buck, Ramon Zürcher and many others, which is still in the midst of conflict about a succession of academy directors appointed by the city government with little input from the student body. The dffb is also subject of a panel, as is the depiction of refugees on film.
Neatly encapsulating the festival is the presentation of “Berlin Replayed: Cinema and Urban Nostalgia in the Postwall Era”, a new book by Brigitta Wagner. The title is already quite self-explanatory: the book investigates the interrelations of urban space, history, and cinema from the 1920s to the present day. Wagner will read excerpts, show film clips and answer questions from host Andrew Grant (MainfestoFilm) and the audience.
Find the full program of the Berlin Art Film Festival here.