One of the world’s biggest and most-respected film events, the recently ended 67th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival awarded its main prize, the Golden Bear, to “On Body and Soul’”, a Hungarian film directed by Ildiko Enyedi, a female filmmaker whose 1989 comedy-drama “My Twentieth Century” won the Camera d’Or from Cannes Film Festival. Veteran director Aki Kaurismaki won the Silver Bear for Best Director for his latest film “The Other Side of Hope”, the tale of a Syrian refugee looking for place to stay in Finland. French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis, meanwhile, took home the Grand Jury Prize for his latest feature “Felicite”, which focuses on the struggles of a bar singer in the Congo.
Several Asian films were selected for the festival, mainly from Japan, China and South Korea, and for the first time in the history of the Berlinale, the Best Actress award went to Korean star Kim Min-Hee. Film fans will no doubt remember her from the red carpet in Cannes last year, where her film, Park Chan-Wook’s “The Handmaiden” was screened to critical acclaim. Min-Hee again collaborated with award-winning director Hong Sang-Soo on his latest “On the Beach at Night Alone” and appeared to have put last year’s criticism from Korean society at her affair with the married director behind her.
In a case of celluloid mirroring reality, in “Beach” Min-Hee plays Young-Hee, an actress who has a relationship with a married film director. After she breaks up with him, she escapes to Hamburg in Germany to visit friends. The second half shows Young-Hee back in Korea talking with her friends about her future career and love.
Though it didn’t win any prizes, “Have a Nice Day” by Liu Jian (“Piercing 1”) is a fascinating animation from China that shows violence and crime in modern Chinese society. The film tells stories of people involved with a stolen bag containing one million yuan. They include a young man who wants to take his girlfriend to Korea for plastic surgery, a hitman and an old gangster. As the first Chinese animation in competition in Berlin, “Have a Nice Day” will soon be screened in many countries though a release in China has yet to be confirmed.
Veteran filmmaker Sabu (“Postman Blues”, “Unlucky Monkey”, “Chasuke’s Journey”) returned to Berlin with “Mr Long”, a Japanese-Taiwanese and German co-production filmed in Taiwan and Japan and starring Chang Chen as a Taiwanese hitman who escapes to Japan and becomes good friends with a young boy and his heroin-addicted mother. A mixture of violent crime film and Japanese-style feel-good movie, “Mr Long” will find its audience in festivals that focus on mainstream Asian films.
The winner of Special Jury Prize from the Teddy Award, the category for films with an LGBT theme, Naoko Ogigami’s (“Kamome Dinner”) “Close-Knit”, which screened in the Panorama section, is one of the few films from Japan with a transgender woman as the main protagonist. Japanese heartthrob Toma Ikuta plays Rinko, a transgender woman whose boyfriend’s niece has to move into her house after the girl’s mother disappears. “Close-Knit” is a heart-warming film that observes gender roles and expectations in Japanese society.
Another Asian film that won Best documentary feature in the Teddy Awards is “Small Talk”, a Taiwanese documentary by female director Hui-chen Huang who interviewed her own mother, a lesbian.
Ramona Diaz’s latest documentary “Motherland”, screened in the Forum section, shows the reality of a maternity ward at a hospital in the Philippines, where more 100 babies are born every day.
With the Berlin International Film Festival the perfect venue to not only screen films to an attentive audience but also to catch the eyes of film professionals gathered at the European Film Market, these Asian films will now be setting off for the long ride around the 2017 festival circuit.
Keep a watch out for them.
Movieonestop cinema news.