It is rare to speak of an oeuvre when a filmmaker has created only a few films, but Kenneth Lonergan (b. 1962) is a special case. Thus far, the director, screenwriter and playwright has made just three feature films, whose finely honed dialogues, impressive acting and deeply moving plot twists have resonated with both filmgoers and critics. Lonergan's dramas have not shied away from the big themes such as family, loss, trauma or moral responsibility – embedded in closely observed everyday situations, they are always treated in an organic and realistic manner. Even when his characters come from different social backgrounds, they share certain traits – a penchant for inconsistent behaviour and a tunnel vision that is often their undoing, a weakness for swear words – which at times make them seem unappealing, but all the more human. Much like the classical music that often suddenly interrupts the events on screen, there is something symphonic about Lonergan’s films themselves: a variety of themes, moods and tensions alternate unexpectedly and always intuitively, without the last movement necessarily bringing resolution.
To coincide with the German release of his new film "Manchester by the Sea" (USA 2016), the Arsenal is showing Lonergan's previous films, which are scarcely known in Germany, from January 23-28.
Motion sequences that merge into filmic choreography—arrangements of people in space, orchestration of objects, even constructions of facial expressions and gestures—appear in the most diverse forms and in almost all genres. Beyond precisely coordinated and meticulously timed arrangements of figures, objects, and single movements, exact correlation of tracking shots, storylines and sequences can consolidate into complex cinematic choreographies. Though far from always dancing, they all almost always do have a dancerly element: choreography in film adds rhythm, renders abstract, stylizes, creates pictorial space and webs of relationships, reflects stasis and movement, and results in an often physical cinema. A cinema of compact mise-en-scènes, which, this month, we’ll be exploring in 16 programs.
The 47th Berlinale Forum is showing 43 films in its main programme, 29 of which as world premieres and 10 as international premieres. This year’s Special Screenings will be announced in a further press release.
This year’s programme shines a light on the sheer wealth of forms employed by the documentary, including films from Southeast Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. The spectrum could hardly be broader here, encompassing institutional portraits, long-term observational projects, and works that employ participatory, narrative, essayistic, ethnographic, political and experimental approaches. These are joined by various hybrid forms that cannot be clearly categorised as either fiction or non-fiction. One recurring motif is that of landscape, which is seldom relegated to the status of backdrop, but rather frequently takes on a leading role.
The Forum Expanded curatorial team has now completed the 2017 selection. 44 artistic works from a total of 21 countries have been invited, including 28 films of various lengths, 15 installations and a performance. The opening of the group exhibition at the Akademie der Künste am Hanseatenweg already takes place on 8.2., one day before the start of the Berlinale. 13 video and sound installations are being shown there, once again supplemented by film screenings from 10.2. onwards. SAVVY Contemporary present the exhibition The Law of the Pursuer by Amos Gitai and the multichannel sound installation Lago by Joshua Bonnetta is being exhibited at the Marshall McLuhan Salon of the Embassy of Canada.
Almost exactly a year after the world premiere of Ulrike Ottinger’s most recent film, the 12-hour opus CHAMISSOS SCHATTEN, at the Berlinale Forum, Arsenal presents the four parts of her large-scale cinematic expedition to the Arctic, along Russia’s easternmost coast and the peninsula of Kamchatka on January 15, 22, 27 & 29. Each screening will be followed by a discussion with Ulrike Ottinger.
Inspired by the accounts of former explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt, Georg Wilhelm Steller, Reinhold und Georg Forster and Adelbert von Chamisso, Ottinger too kept a logbook, linking her own artistic and ethnographic viewpoint to the historical findings and visual depictions. So past and present meet and historical and cultural changes become visible. A field of tension emerges between the then and now, showing how inseparable the two are.
Clemens Klopfenstein, the "rock of Swiss film", has made films with everything that he got his hands and eyes on: he started with 8 mm, moving on to Super8, 16 mm, Super16, 35 mm and then Video8, Video Hi8, analogue then digital. He has lived in Umbria for 40 years, painting, drawing, and producing with a familial Franciscan budget. We are very pleased that on top of our analogue copies digital versions of all of Clemens Klopfenstein’s works are now available from arsenal distribution. These will be joined by three further films that are currently in production in the future.
You Can't Take It With You USA 1938
With James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Edward Arnold, Lionel Barrymore
35 mm OV/GeS 127 min
Preserved by the Library of Congress
*La chasse aux papillons Chasing Butterflies
Otar Iosseliani France/Gemany/Italy 1992
35 mm OV/GeS 115 min
Pickpocket Robert Bresson
France 1959 35 mm OV/EnS 76 min