Zana Marjanovic and Goran Kostic in Angelina Jolie's In The Land of Blood And Honey (photo by Dean Semler, GK Films)
BERLIN — The city is in deep-freeze shock. But, magically, it does not put a hamper on the frenzy that is sweeping the metropolis into movie-craziness. The 62nd annual Berlin International Film Festival (February 9-19) opened as the biggest ever festival of movies that Berlin has seen. The mega event will screen 400 movies in 10 days, and the business center of the festival — the European Film Market, available to registered industry insiders only — will screen an additional 6300 flicks. It is estimated that the Berlinale will bring 66 million additional Euros to the capital.
Out of all these films, the 100,000 movie fans and 4,000 journalists will see 23 movies in the actual competition.
The films of the “Red Dream Factory” promise to become a most fascinating retrospective. Between 1921 and 1936, the Soviet Union production company Meschrabpom and its German branch Prometheus created such legendary films as Battleship Potemkin, the first animated films worldwide, and the first sound movie of the Soviet Union. The highlight of the selection of 44 films could become Sergei Eisenstein’s October, with the Radio Symphony orchestra playing the original music by Edmund Meisel. It is designed to rival last year’s huge success of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.
Although the Russian October Revolution took place in 1917, the film seems to imply the theme of this year’s Berlinale in many ways. The festival was always skewed towards political and social engagement, but this will be even more evident this year. Changing perspectives, new beginnings, revolutions, and revolts on many levels take center stage. Thus the world premiere of Benoît Jacquot’s Les adieux á la Reine as the opening film is more than a historical subject — it beckons to all the political changes in recent times. Unfortunately, the movie causes much less excitement, and at best it can be called a pleasing footnote.
But the gala was not all tepid. When Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick and jury president Mike Leigh opened the Berlinale yesterday, it was a splendid affair with the political elite of Berlin and the glitz of international film stars in attendance.
Of course, Hollywood and Bollywood will be represented. Angelina Jolie (accompanied by Brad Pitt, of course) will show her 2011 movie In the Land of Blood and Honey (which she wrote and directed), a heart-wrenching account of love between a Christian and a Muslim in war-torn Serbia.
Meryl Streep will receive the Golden Honorary Bear (Goldener Ehrenbär) on the night when her movie The Iron Lady is shown as part of a homage of seven films. Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood’s biggest star, will be here to add more hype to Farkah Akhtar’s over the top action thriller Don 2. It is pure 007-fluff, but enjoyable and — the best part — it was filmed in Berlin and shows lots of hot spots in the city.
Now it is time to go back out into the cold of Berlin to see more, hopefully hot and interesting movies. The only problem: with so many incredible presentations, it is so hard to decide where to go with. I wish the days had more hours. — Angelika Jansen