May 2011, arsenal cinema

41st Forum

UNTER KONTROLLE, 2011 (©Sattel/Stefanescu 2010)

An astounding number of films in the program of the 41st Forum of the Berlinale have to do with the themes of family, relationships and identity. Dealing with the human psyche is the top subject for many independent filmmakers from around the world. Yet most of their films can indeed be interpreted politically, in the context of social transformation and radical political changes. The artist Kelvin K. Park, for instance, in his documentary CHEONGGYECHEON MEDLEY, places the looming demolition of a traditional quarter of Seoul, in which many metal-processing companies are seated, in the complex context of Korean history and social structures. The Dutch film DE ENGEL VAN DOEL deals with the destruction of an entire town to expand the port of the Belgian city of Antwerp and the devastating consequences, particularly for the older residents. The three Czech and Slovakian contributions to this year's program connect the private and public. In the documentary NESVATBOV (Matchmaking Mayor) by Erika Hníková, the efforts of an energetic mayor to counter the decrease in population by means of a large-scale matchmaking program remains futile. The debut movies OSMDESAT DOPISU (Eighty Letters) by Václav Kadrnka and DOM by Zuzana Liová tell of families torn apart - one against the background of the late-socialist era, the other in the context of present-day economic and psychological depression.

This year's Forum program includes a large number of German films. UNTER KONTROLLE by Volker Sattel tours sites of the German and Austrian nuclear industry, showing people at work ensuring the operation or also liquidation of a past science-fiction. It's a film about the aesthetic and architecture of a technology gone astray. TRAUMFABRIK KABUL by Sebastian Heidinger portraits the Afghan policewoman, director and film producer Saba Sahar, who with her cinematic works seeks to entertain and educate and, above all, stand up for the rights of Afghan women.

The two German feature films of the Forum program deal with submerged family relationships. In AUF DER SUCHE by Jan Krüger, Corinna Harfouch finds out in Marseille that her missing son does not fit the image she had of him until now. In his second feature film, SWANS, Hugo Viera da Silva sends a father and son from distant Portugal back to Berlin to visit the mother, who has long become estranged from them and is now lying in a coma in a hospital.

In a Special Screening, an exceptional filmic experiment will be presented. A discussion on film aesthetic organized by the German film magazine Revolver prompted DREILEBEN, a television production to which the directors Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler each contributed a 90-minute feature film. All three deal with the same event, the escape of a presumed violent criminal from prison. The story is narrated in various styles and from different perspectives: that of a person doing community service (Petzold's "Etwas Besseres als den Tod"), that of a non-local police psychologist (Graf's "Komm mir nicht nach") and that of the fugitive and a local police officer (Hochhäusler's "Eine Minute Dunkel"). In the framework of the festival, the directors will continue their cinematic debate in a discussion.