What’s in Berlinale Panorama Platter

By Pickle  January 31, 2022
What’s in Berlinale Panorama Platter, Pickle Media

Alain Guiraudie will open the section with his political satire Viens je t’emmène (Nobody’s Hero), his first film to be presented at the Berlinale

An acclaimed auteur of European cinema is launching the 2022 Panorama: Alain Guiraudie will open the section with his political satire Viens je t’emmène (Nobody’s Hero), his first film to be presented at the Berlinale. Guiraudie’s love-struck band of middle-class citizens race through the streets of Clermont-Ferrand following a terrorist attack. Love, paranoia and distrust propel his cast of characters through this satire which, in spite of all its social criticism, is full of empathy for its flawed heroines and heroes.

Some directors in this year’s programme tackle social turmoil with visual verve and an appetite for dramatic gestures, setting a clear example for combative genre cinema that turns social codes upside down.

Some directors in this year’s programme tackle social turmoil with visual verve and an appetite for dramatic gestures, setting a clear example for combative genre cinema that turns social codes upside down.

Fields of vision and sightlines become harbingers of upheaval when Mexican director Alejandra Márquez Abella depicts the decline in power of the elite in her epic third feature film, El norte sobre el vacío (Northern Skies Over Empty Space). In her debut Fogaréu, Brazilian filmmaker Flávia Neves combines family horror with the history of colonialism and slavery in a surreal and virtuoso manner. In Una femmina (Una Femmina – The Code of Silence), Francesco Costabile reveals with dramatic intensity a young woman’s process of emancipation in the midst of a family entangled in dark machinations. The camera’s gaze anticipates the confrontation and duel for power that is imposed with brute force.

Director Isabelle Stever opens up perspectives that uncompromisingly smash into a thousand pieces the traditional family drama and its fossilised conventions. Grand Jeté invites us to witness the blossoming desire between a mother and her estranged son. Steeped in unparalleled physical intensity, the film challenges our viewing habits and moral assumptions with relentless persistence and a masterful mis-en-scène.

Produkty 24 (Convenience Store) by Uzbek director Michael Borodin and Baqyt (Happiness) by Askar Uzabayev from Kazakhstan peer into the depths of social and family structures of violence. Both filmmakers deliver enormously important, fictional contributions about modern slavery in Russia and domestic violence against women, which is tragically the order of the day, and not just in Kazakhstan.

Ten documentary works enrich this year’s programme with their stories and heterogeneous points of view. Many of them combine history and the present to open up new perspectives, make biographies visible and bring previously hidden subcultures to life. In Cem Kaya’s documentary essay Aşk, Mark ve Ölüm (Love, Deutschmarks and Death), the director orchestrates material from 60 years of alternative German post-war and Turkish-German cultural history. Berlin singer-songwriter Bettina Wegner is the focal point of the film portrait Bettina in which Lutz Pehnert deploys meticulously researched and arranged archive material to tell not only the biography of an artist, but also the history of the divided Germany.

In New York’s legendary Chelsea Hotel, we meet such illustrious residents as the inquisitive choreographer Merle and the eccentric, hermit-like photographer Bettina. They represent two of those who decided to stay on despite major refurbishment and who are insisting on their right of residence. In Dreaming Walls, Amélie van Elmbt and Maya Duverdier create a kaleidoscopic portrait of the resisters and the spaces they inhabit and roam.

The camera as a tool for self-reflection and a way to search for clues is a recurring motif in films such as No U-Turn from Nigeria, in which we set off with director Ike Nnaebue on a cinematic journey retracing his steps from Lagos to Tangier, the continent-traversing route he first travelled as a teenager in hope of a better life. Along the way, he draws a multinational and multilingual portrait of African migration. In No Simple Way Home by Akuol de Mabior from South Sudan, the director confronts her own family history, which is closely linked to the history of the young East African state. And in Nous, étudiants ! (We, Students !), Rafiki Fariala also poses questions about a better future, this time in the Central African Republic. His camera accompanies him and his loyal clique in a wide variety of situations and visualises the poetic plea of a forward-looking generation. Both countries are being represented with a film at the Berlinale for the first time.

The 2022 Panorama offers a wild ride through contemporary cinema with works that denounce corrupt elites, dissect hardened and toxic family structures and lead us to places of resistance and reconciliation. The films mediate between past and present and look at the interplay between the individual and society. They demonstrate an aesthetic desire to create, a delight in dramatic gestures and a satirical sensibility. Simultaneously disarming, cruel, humorous and loving, they are one thing above all else: made for the big screen.

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