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Berlinale
08. Feb 2005 at 22:26
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The major film festival in the month of February is located in Berlin, Germany and starts on Thursday.

A number of films that may be of interest screening there.


Bluebird (Netherlands)

Thirteen-year-old Merel is something of a perfect child: she does well at school, likes to take part in all kinds of extra-curricular activities and has a close and loving relationship to her younger disabled brother, Kasper. If thereís anything at all that sets Merel apart from her classmates then itís perhaps the fact that sheís not quite as grown-up as the others and does not belong to any one clique. It comes as all the more of a shock when she suddenly finds herself the target of some nasty bullying.
The situation soon becomes unbearable and Merel tries to find a solution on her own. Moreover, just like many children, she hides her problem from her parents and teachers. Although everybody realises what she is going through and would like to help, they are powerless, because Merel invents ever more plausible reasons for her bruises or her demolished bicycle. Before long, Merel comes to the end of her tether; nothing in her life seems to fit together anymore and she is at a complete loss as to what to do. Life at home deteriorates, as does her schoolwork. It is time for Merel to make a decision that will help her break out of the vicious circle of humiliation.

The Color of Milk (Norway)

12-year-old Selma is convinced that boys Ė and later on men Ė are nothing but trouble. You only have to look at her own family. Her aunt and long-term boyfriend have been meaning to get married for years. But, no sooner do they set the date than they always seem to start having the most tremendous row with the upshot that the priest has to be sent home and the wedding party called off. And didnít even Selmaís mother die of love? For this reason, Selma is determined not to have anything to do with love. Instead, she plans to devote her life to science! Nothing less than the Nobel prize will do for Selma and thatís why she has certainly no time to hang
out with her girlfriends Ė their heads are full of nothing but boys anyway. Selma would much rather discuss scientific issues with Andy, a boy of
the same age. But then Ė oh no! Ė it transpires that Andy has fallen in love with Selma!

An Italian (Russia)

Itís a pretty tall order to ask a six-year-old to suddenly take on responsibility for his own life. Every decision he makes will have an influence on his future, and the questions facing Vanya are really tough: does he want to life a comfortable life as an adopted child of a loving family in Italy? After all, for an abandoned Russian child like Vanya it really doesnít sound like a bad option. Or would he rather take on the powers-that-be in Russian society?
The latter path would involve a battle against Russiaís feeble adoption laws in a godforsaken part of the country where, for children without parents, adoption offers the only chance for survival. Moreover, thereís plenty of money to be had in selling orphans into adoption abroad. For Vanya to succeed, he would have to get his own way in a cruel world where adults are not about to let a perverse six-year-old prevent them from earning a quick buck. He would also have to defend himself against the avarice of corrupt militias. But, above all, his refusal to allow himself to be adopted by an Italian family would be a decision against his motherís wishes, who abandoned him in a Russian maternity ward.
The world of children is a universe with its own laws; a realm in which sometimes oneís heart speaks louder than oneís intellect. Vanya decides to set off in search of his mother. But he must first learn how to read so that he can understand the little information he has about her. Vanya embarks on his quest Ė and encounters a mysterious and dangerous world.

Does God Play Football?  (UK) short

A tiny village in Yorkshire sometime in the 1960s. Tommy has never met his begetter and believes that God is his father. And if God is his father, Tommy must be Jesus. But Tommyís claim soon leads to a great number of questions that he finds impossible to answer. Then Tommy introduces his mother to the new parish priest and, suddenly, all their questions are answered.

Lard  (UK) short

Jake is dying to play football with the big boys. When he inadvertently ends up with the ball, Jake realises that friendship has its price.

Pilala  (Greece)  short

Today is a big day for 12-year-old Adipas, for today he is going to see his idol on television! But then, tragically, a short circuit suddenly puts an end to his plans. The only people who still have electricity are his grandparents, in their cafť. However, before he manages to get there, Adipas succeeds in turning the entire village upside down.

The Djarn Djarns (Australia) short

Eleven-year-old Frankie Dollar is the leader of the Djarn Djarns, a group that performs traditional Aboriginal dances. Thereís always plenty going on at the cultural centre where the dancers often perform and they seem to be very much in demand on this particular day. But Frankieís really in the doldrums because one year ago to the day, his father died. Now he needs his friends more than ever.

My Dad is a Champ (Denmark)  short

Ten-year-old Stefan has not seen his father in years. The only thing he knows about him is that he travels the world as a boxing champ. One day, his father comes to stay at a hotel nearby. However, at the hotel reception Stefan learns that his father is working in the hotel as a chef. They must have got it wrong. But what if the new hotel chef actually turns out to be his father after all?

No Man's Land  (UK)  short

Itís Christmas Eve and Rory walks across the property that divides his parentsí houses. Behind his back, his divorced parents are rowing, as ever. On Christmas Day Rory plays football with his father and his mother comes over to their place. For a moment, itís just like old times. But, as soon as the Christmas holidays are over, they start arguing again.

The Little Things (New Zealand)  short

When you turn fourteen and nobody pays any attention to the fact, thatís pretty sad in itself. This is exactly what happens to George, whose mother doesnít show up on her birthday of all days. Left to her own devices and without any money, it is Tama, the six-year-old boy next door of all people, who tries to cheer her up. He just wonít give up. Touched by his perseverance, George allows her admirerís warm-heartedness to infect her. After all, itís the little things that count.

Popular Music From Vittula (Sweden)

Reza Bagherís sympathetic adaptation of Mikael Niemiís best-selling Scandinavian novel about the rock Ďní roll rebellion that took place in Sweden in the 1960s is every bit as wild as the original. The film is an entertaining portrait of both Swedenís Mešnkieli minority, who speak a Language not unlike Finnish and the sometimes rather unusual customs of those who live north of the polar circle.
Vittula is the name of the remote little town where Matti and his shy friend, Niila have grown up. Theirs is an insular world of hardened drinkers and illegal distilleries. Vittula is also inhabited by Mattiís Communist grandfather and members of the Christian-fundamentalist Laestadian sect. It looks very much as though life will continue to just bypass Matti and Niila Ė until one day, Greger appears on the scene.
Not only does this young music teacher from the south teach the boys how to play the guitar, his infectious enthusiasm and unconventional outlook open up a whole new world for the two friends. Sensing that their big opportunity to escape their miserable small town existence has come at last, Matti and Niila decide to form a band. For one wonderful moment, music offers them a glimmer of hope Ė like a ray of light on the northern Swedish horizon. However, music may be a way for Matti and Niila to see the world with different eyes Ė but it is by no means a passport to another life.

The Thousand Year Fire (Japan)

Satoshi Sugita is eleven years old. His mother died when he was born and now his father, a rather unsuccessful painter, has died in a car accident. Satoshi returns to the small town by the sea where his father grew up and his grandparents still live. He is deeply shocked by his fatherís death. Satoshi believes that it is his fault and so stops talking.
Everyone in the small town has heard the story of the boyís misfortunes. The children in the neighbourhood canít wait to meet Satoshi. However, it isnít long before the boys exasperate Satoshi by throwing his cell phone into the sea: on it was his fatherís last message before dying in the accident. Satoshi is devastated. But then the friendliness of the townsfolk makes itself felt and he gradually finds a way out of his grief and loneliness. Particularly helpful are Okina, an elderly doctor, and his granddaughter Ayumi, whose parents arenít alive any more either. Though above all itís the sea that enthrals him, arousing an enthusiasm like his father had once felt. Satoshi decides to participate in Hiwatashi, a ritual only performed at this spot. It starts off with the children having to swim three kilometres in the open sea. All those who accomplish the feat become members of the chosen circle permitted to watch over the holy fire of Chitosebi. For Satoshi, this challenge turns into his return to life.

Summer Story (Israel)

Summer 1982. Israel is at war with the Lebanon. Thirteen-year-old Gal is working as a postman in a Moshav cooperative because almost all the male inhabitants have been conscripted to fight at the front. During one of his daily rounds in the small town where he lives he meets nineteen-year-old Haya, a girl with a weak heart who is corresponding intensively and, for her part, enthusiastically with several soldiers in the Lebanon. Only one of her pen pals Ė the one who happens to write the nicest letters Ė has not yet sent her a photo of himself. When the portrait finally appears, Gal slips it out of the envelope and tears it up.
For while Haya has been waiting with bated breath for the photograph to arrive Gal has fallen in love with the doomed young woman. Sharing her heartache and full of remorse, he fearlessly takes on the task of personally obtaining another picture of the soldier. And, incredibly, after a whole series of surprising events and heroic adventures, the boy actually manages to get to LebanonÖ

The Mighty Celt  (UK)

Donal lives with his single mother, Kate, in Belfast. After school, Donal helps a dog trainer named Good Joe to look after his racing greyhounds. Donal is good with dogs and knows just how to handle them. And thatís why, as soon as he sees The Mighty Celt he knows exactly what this dog is capable of. Good Joe is not so sure, but nevertheless makes Donal an offer he canít refuse: the boy can train the dog and, if Mighty Celt manages to win three races in a row, Donal can keep him.
The Mighty Celt and Donal set to work. But something else is preoccupying Donal, namely, the recent reappearance of O. At first, he is not at all happy about the way this mysterious figure from the past plays on his mind. But then the two develop a liking for each other and, after a while, even Kate and O slowly find themselves drawn to each other again. Good Joe, however, is the only one who makes no secret of his dislike of O.
In fact, Good Joe detests everything that O stands for and is not at all pleased to observe the growing friendship between O and Donal. Oís return makes Good Joe so angry that he even reneges on his agreement with Donal Ė a decision that threatens to overturn everything Donal believed in.

This Unusual Vacation  (China)

During the summer holidays youíre just supposed to have fun. Thatís exactly what Panxing, Huo Da und Jin Bao want to do. The friends canít wait to horse around down by the river. Yet then, in their impetuosity, they cause a serious accident in which an old man not only loses his bucket of fish, but also his memory.
At first this seems quite practical, since it means the old man canít remember what happened to him and how the boys were involved in his mishap. But little by little the three realize that no matter how hard they try to repress and cover things up, they still have a bad conscience. After a distressing period in which the friends are also worried about being exposed as the culprits, they have no alternative but to take the bull by the horns and accept the consequences.
At the end of their holidays, Panxing, Huo Da and Jin Bao have not only had a lot of fun but have also learned a few things they would never have learned at school. The director is not, by any means, trying to lecture anyone in this film, but wants to tell a profound and moving story about a summer adventure in provincial China.

  
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Zabladowski
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #1 - 08. Feb 2005 at 22:34
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There are a few other films we've discussed before scheduled as well such as Turtles Can Fly, Pelicanman, and Innocent Voices.

Most of the young actors are unknown to me except for Fredrick Christian Johansen (Hodder!) who is the star of My Dad is a Champ and Max Enderfors (Passing Hearts) who is one of the leads in Popular Music From Vittula.

I have located stills for most of the films discussed above

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Color of Milk
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An Italian
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Lard
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The Little Things
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My Dad is a Champ
  
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Zabladowski
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #2 - 08. Feb 2005 at 22:37
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Pilala
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No Man's Land
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Summer Story
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This Unusual Vacation
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The Mighty Celt
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The Thousand Year Fire
« Last Edit: 12. Jul 2008 at 19:45 by Zabladowski »  
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #3 - 08. Feb 2005 at 22:40
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Bluebird
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Does God Play Football?
  
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #4 - 08. Feb 2005 at 23:09
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Thanks for the alerts, Zab. Lots of interesting movies to look out for. Hopefully some of them will eventually play at festivals more accessible to me. Smiley
  
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #5 - 08. Feb 2005 at 23:32
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Thank you for that report, Zab. I get the impression that the Berlin Festival has a richer choice of films than others. Most of these look like really good ones.
  
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #6 - 08. Feb 2005 at 23:41
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From our perspective you are correct, YA. The Berlin festival has a sidebar exclusively devoted to Children and Youth films. Many of the films they are screening are new releases which I (and josephk  Smiley ) hope will get picked up by film festivals in North America.

The Color of Milk is probably the most talked about among these and Does God Play Football (don't you just love that picture?) has played a few other festivals I've read up on.

Based on what I have read and seen so far, I am most interested in seeing An Italian and The Thousand Year Fire.
  
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #7 - 09. Feb 2005 at 20:19
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Wow! what a great film festival.

Great work Zab, thanks for bringing these films to our attention. Lots to look forward too.  Smiley
  
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Re: Berlinale
Reply #8 - 20. Apr 2006 at 16:54
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Thanks for the great information and pic's from these films. 

An Italian
Bluebird
The Thousand Year Fire


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Re: Berlinale
Reply #9 - 20. Apr 2006 at 20:02
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You're welcome.

Bluebird has been released on DVD with English subs in the Netherlands. I just saw the film last month in a film festival. It is girl centered but a pretty good story about the effects of bullying.

An Italian has been picked up by Sony in the US and we are expecting a theatrical release some time this year.

I've never seen anything more about the Thousand Year Fire.

I've seen some of these films now. I really enjoyed The Mighty Celt and My Dad is a Champ.
« Last Edit: 27. Sep 2009 at 00:18 by Zabladowski »  
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