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Day 5: fantastic women

As you all know, there is never enough place for fantastic women on this planet! I mean, there is plenty, but unfortunately, these women are not always met with the best circumstances!

That is also the case in the new feature film by director Sebastián Lelio, whose film “Gloria” was screening at the Berlinale in 2013 and which won a Silver Bear for the performance of the wonderful actress Paulina García.

The film “Una mujer fantastica” is about a trans*gender woman Marina, who doesn´t want to do anything else but mourn, after her boyfriend suddenly dies. But the family of the dead man and the society doesn’t let her do that. It is an outstanding film about the fight of a trans*gender woman for her right to mourn, but also a film about a woman who just lost her man, and tries to get her feets back on the ground. Just a fantastic and a strong woman! But see for yourself!


Bing Lang Xue
The Taste of Betel Nut

Hong Kong, China 2017
84′
Director: Hu Jia

Li Qi is working for a dolphin show, his friend Ren Yu chugs along with his mobile karaoke, working the surfers’ beach along the coast of Hainan Island where they both live. The tourists are delighted by Ren’s physical similarity to the screen actor Leslie Cheung and are happy to pay for a photo with him – or to get drunk with him. When a young woman joins this polyamorous couple, things are no different at first and an open, three-way relationship would seem possible. Together, Li Qi, Ren Yu and Bai Ling set out to test the limitations of a restrictive society as well as their own sexuality. But then, something happens that rocks the protagonists to the core and will have a deep and lasting effect on them … Director Hu Jia portrays a generation that would appear to move casually between tradition and a courageously alternative way of life. The film’s unusual setting is compelling from the word go. Largely without dialogue, this drama instead relies on small gestures that are full of meaning. The film’s quietly explicit images tell a tale of love, sex, trust and brutality – providing a picture of everyday life in China that is seldom seen on the big screen.

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13.02. / 20:00 CinemaxX 7


Call me by your Name
Call me by your Name

Italy/France 2017
130′,
Director: Luca Guadagnino

It’s the hot, sun-drenched summer of 1983 and Elio is at his parents’ country seat in northern Italy. The seventeen-year-old idles away the time listening to music, reading books and swimming until one day his father’s new American assistant arrives at their large villa. Oliver is charming and, like Elio, has Jewish roots; he is also young, self-confident and good looking. At first Elio is somewhat cold and distant towards the young man but before long the two begin going out together on excursions. Elio begins to make tentative overtures towards Oliver that become increasingly intimate – even if, as Oliver says, ‘one can’t talk about such things’. As the short summer progresses, the pair’s mutual attraction grows more intense. Director Luca Guadagnino co-wrote the screenplay – which is based on the novel of the same name by André Aciman – with US director James Ivory and Walter Fasano. Guadagnino transposes the memories of the book’s first-person narrator Elio into quietly atmospheric images. Besides the two main characters of this unexpected coming-out story (played by Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer) the film also boasts a third leading role in the shape of the seductive landscape.

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13.02. / 21:30 Zoo Palast 1


Casa Roshell
Casa Roshell

Mexico/Chile 2017
71′
Director: Camila José Donoso

You’d never know this is your home away from home. The surveillance camera outside shows a drab reception area and an unremarkable street in Mexico City; inside, the lights flash, but the tables are empty. Yet preparations are soon underway and fixed categories cease to apply: stubble is removed, make-up applied and strands of hair are teased into place; the camera is trained not on the men themselves, but what they see in the mirror. There’s time for a lesson before the festivities get going, to practise walking, consider the letters of the alphabet, think about what sort of girl to be. Music plays, drinks are served and the last boundaries are suspended: those between man and woman, gay, straight and bi, past and present, reality and fiction. The people chatting at the tables or waiting before the darkroom are shot to resemble characters from a film, impossibly glamourous, which doesn’t mean their stories aren’t true. Whenever film stock replaces the digital images, it’s like a symbol for the memories Casa Roshell contains, the spectres of all those who came here and no longer felt alone. No matter how small the utopia, the world outside can still catch up.

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13.02. / 22:00 Delphi Filmpalast


Casting
Casting

Germany 2017
91′,
Director: Nicolas Wackerbarth

For her first television film – a remake of Fassbinder’s Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant – director Vera wants the perfect cast. But the first day of shooting is fast approaching and the numerous casting sessions have yet to find a suitable actress to play the leading role. Although the producer and crew are getting ever more exasperated with Vera, Gerwin is happy about the extra work, as he earns his money as an audition reader, delivering the lines of dialogue to the starry candidates at the various castings. When the male lead suddenly has to back out, Gerwin thinks that this might just be his chance. Director Nicolas Wackerbarth captures the complex essence of Fassbinder’s film and simultaneously creates a profound work of his own. Casting takes an unflinching look at the murky depths of human relationships driven by power, passion and desperation. Yet Wackerbarth also brings bitter truths to light about power relations and dependencies in the German television industry almost in passing. Casting is both intelligent and entertaining, marked by exciting turning points, humour and the breathtaking acting performances by a truly virtuoso ensemble.

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13.02. / 11:00 CineStar 8


Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau
Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves

Canada
183′
Director: Mathieu Denis, Simon Lavoie

‘After twelve weeks of striking, assemblies, solidarity, arrest, protest, what do we get? Nothing.’ As the 2012 ‘Maple Spring’ student protest movement in Quebec slowly ebbs away, a dark storm of violence gathers. Driven by a growing sense of frustrated powerlessness and a longing for a new life, Klas Batalo, Ordine Nuovo, Tumulto and Giutizia form an avant-garde splinter group. Their deep-rooted hostility towards the prevailing social order finds an ambiguous political expression in acts that include guerilla pranks and throwing Molotov cocktails. Using powerful imagery shaped by a century of political aesthetics, the film is a collage of scenes and documentary fragments that makes the isolation of the four protagonists tangible. In the course of a path formed by ideals and doubt, we witness their radicalism as it increasingly turns inwards.

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13.02. / 14:30 CinemaxX 3


Como Nossos Pais
Just Like Our Parents

Brazil 2017
102′,
Director: Laís Bodanzky

Rosa is in her late thirties. Her parents are divorced. She lives with her own family in an apartment in central São Paulo. Her husband is often away on research trips that are not particularly lucrative, so it’s up to her to support and care for their two daughters. Instead of concentrating on her calling as a playwright she is obliged to earn a living writing advertising copy for a bathroom ceramics company. Coping with sexual conflicts in her relationship, dealing with problems with her various commissions, but also being obliged to tend to her fragile father’s needy artistic personality all present an increasing challenge to Rosa. When Rosa’s mother makes a surprising disclosure to her one day, Rosa decides to break out of her usual obligations. In so doing she discovers that life holds many surprises in store for her. Laís Bodanzky’s impressively naturalistic film portrays the lives of three generations living in Brazil’s largest city. These are lives caught between individual passions and living the lie. At the heart of the film is the portrait of a woman engulfed by the permanent demands that are placed upon her who decides to find out who she really is.

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13.02. / 22:30 Colosseum 1


Discreet
Discreet

USA 2017
81′
Director: Travis Mathews

Bacon sizzling in fat, a young woman thanking the subscribers of her YouTube channel, a corpse neatly wrapped up in black garbage bags and floating down a river – as clear as the first few images of Travis Mathews’ mystery thriller may be, the connections only become clearer gradually, as if they were emerging from the subconscious. This elliptically edited story, which revolves around a man who can no longer be described as young, is accompanied by an eerie soundscape. Filmmaker Alex lives in a van. He sets up his camera in rural areas in the US and in the no-man’s land near highways. During a visit to his alcoholic mother one day she shares with him a well-kept secret. There is also a small boy, with whom Alex develops an unexpectedly close relationship. Director Mathews chronicles a modern day gay existence in the West – from anonymous sex to heterosexual porn in a sex bar cabin, or as a service in a motel room. A small house and a life on the margins of society. Meanwhile, on the radio, we are treated to a steady stream of rightwing slogans against everything that is not white and heterosexual, here in Texas.

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13.02. / 20:15 Cubix 7
13.02. / 20:15 Cubix 8


Freak Show
Freak Show

USA 2017
95′
Director: Trudie Styler

Being fabulous, no: being relentlessly fabulous is damn hard work. I should know. I’ve dedicated my life to the pursuit of it.’ Could Billy Bloom be like everyone else if he wanted to? It would certainly save him a whole lot of trouble. But he has absolutely no desire to be like them. When others call him theatrical, he takes it as a compliment; when his classmates feel provoked by his drive to be different, it only motivates him further. ‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down’, his father warns him. That does not deter Billy from deciding to run for homecoming queen. Somewhere in-between David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Freddy Mercury and Oscar Wilde, in the transgressive space of pop culture and dressed up as a high school comedy with wit, heart and a dazzling cast, Freak Show is about the violence of conformity and the power of self-determination

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13.02. / 17:00 HKW


Kometen
The Comet

Sweden 2016
11′
Director: Victor Lindgren
Cast: Abdi Aziis

The sea. High waves. Dark water. A border fence, two men in hiding. Their flight begins. Only one of them will reach Sweden. One of the men is played by Abdi Aziis, who himself has fled from Somalia to Sweden in order to escape the oppression and persecution of gay men. “He is our comet” explains director Victor Lindgren, who, in merely a few selected situations, manages to convey the exertions, the deep abyss, the arrival and the loneliness of those who flee. Both men lay alongside each other on a bench, one arm extended across the other’s belly – an image that symbolizes their intimacy, their shared experience. And in the next moment it’s all gone. Forever. How can life go on? Victor Lindgren’s film Ta av mig was conferred with a TEDDY Award for Best Short Film at the 2013 Berlinale.

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13.02. / 22:00 CinemaxX 3


Maurice
Maurice

Great Britain 1987
140′
Director: James Ivory
Cast: James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Rupert Graves, Denholm Elliott

At King’s College, Cambridge in 1909, fellow students Maurice Hall and Clive Durham feel more for each other than mere friendship. But sexual contact, never mind the “unspeakable vice of the Greeks” as their Plato professor calls it, remains taboo. For fear of being ostracised, like one of their classmates, they keep their love secret. Later, after Clive has made a marriage befitting his station, they maintain a purely platonic friendship. When Maurice begins a relationship with the Durham’s gamekeeper, it seems as if he has found happiness … Following their Oscar-winning turn with A Room with a View (1985), the team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant took on this second film based on a book by E.M. Forster; although the novel had been written in 1913/14, it could not be published until after his death in 1970. In melancholy tones, the film deals sensitively with the grief of a forbidden love. The rigorously detailed production design precisely captures the Edwardian zeitgeist, while at the same time, the exquisite composition of the camerawork reveals the narrow-mindedness of a society in which prudery and hypocrisy rule. – World premiere of the digitally restored 2K DCP version.

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13.02. / 19:00 CinemaxX 8


Mein wunderbares West-Berlin
My Wonderful West Berlin

Germany 2017
97
Director: Jochen Hick
Cast: Romy Haag, Maximilian Lenz, Ades Zabel

In West Berlin in the 1960s it was possible to find bars where men could be left to themselves – a fact that was to turn the city into a magnet for young gay men. The protagonists of this film, all still active members of the community today, recall those early years in the city. Theirs are memories of a community that fought steadily for its existence and for change, right up to the fall of the Wall. Faced with considerable social repression in the 1970s, a collective gay identity began to emerge, and the ‘West Berlin homosexual campaign’ called for the abolition of paragraph 175 and the overthrow of patriarchy. Ruined buildings become the venues for new ways of living together such as all-male communes or the ‘queer house’. Cottaging, East-West affairs, leather bars, drag performances in the subway – an anarchic kind of joy outshines past suffering. A decade later, AIDS was to hit Berlin. After Out in Ost-Berlin (Out In East Berlin) Jochen Hick explores queer lifestyles in the West of the city and the roots of a fascination that the metropolis still holds as a refuge – and not just for gay men. A fascinating journey through time featuring previously unpublished archive material.

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13.02. / 14:30 Colosseum 1


The Misandrists
The Misandrists

Germany 2017 91′
Director: Bruce LaBruce
Cast: Susanne Sachsse, Viva Ruiz, Kembra Pfahler, Caprice Crawford

Somewhere in Ger(wo)many … A radical female ‘army of lovers’ is preparing itself for a final revolution. Women are discussing, campaigning, menstruating and pondering the decline of patriarchy, learning about single sex reproduction, and having sex. But then of all people a young soldier appears, seeking refuge at this feminist convent; moreover, one of the women-warriors turns out to be a police informer. This brings their strict superintendent on the scene. And ‘big mother’ is not amused. “Two cocks! And a cop! In our house! That’s intolerable!” But one question remains: is it possible to have equality in a corrupt system? Or will cocks need to roll first?! As if Valerie Solanas had directed an episode of ‘Schoolgirl’s Report’, Bruce LaBruce’s latest piece of shenanigans revolves around a utopian world without men. The Canadian director, experienced Berlinale guest and Teddy award-winner (for Pierrot Lunaire) serves up a merry, anarchic dance in which political slogans fall as trippingly off the tongue as religious acclamations. Their sermons are – naturally – rounded off with ‘A(wo)men’. Sarcastic, very funny – and as queer as it gets.

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13.02. / 22:30 CinemaxX 7


Una mujer fantástica
A Fantastic Woman

Chile/USA/Germany/Spain 2017
104′
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Cast: Daniela Vega, Francisco Reyes, Luis Gnecco, Aline Kuppenheim

Marina and Orlando are in love and plan to spend their lives together. She is working as a waitress and adores singing. Her lover, twenty years her senior, has left his family for her. One night, when they return home after having exuberantly celebrated Marina’s birthday at a restaurant, Orlando suddenly turns deathly pale and stops responding. At the hospital, all the doctors can do is confirm his death. Events follow thick and fast: Marina finds herself facing a female police inspector’s unpleasant questions, and Orlando’s family shows her nothing but anger and mistrust. Orlando’s wife excludes Marina from the funeral; she also orders her to leave the apartment – which on paper at least belonged to Orlando – as soon as possible. Marina is a transgender woman. The deceased’s family feels threatened by her sexual identity. With the same energy she once used to fight for her right to live as a woman Marina, with head held high, now insists on her right to grieve. Even if her environment conspires against her, the film at least is entirely on her side, showing us a protagonist who, although increasingly side-lined, is nonetheless strong and worldly-wise – a truly fantastic woman.

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13.02. / 12:30 Zoo Palast 1
13.02. / 15:00 Friedrichstadt-Palast
13.02. / 21:30 Odeon
13.02. / 22:30 International


Pieles
Skins

Spain 2017
77′
Director: Eduardo Casanova
Cast: Ana Polvorosa, Candela Peña, Carmen Machi, Macarena Gómez

Samantha, Guille, Ana and Cristian all have something in common – and yet they couldn’t be more diverse. Their bodies are different to those of other people; be it the mouth, the left side of the face, the texture of the skin or the feeling that your legs don’t belong to your body. They all live and love hidden away in strangely artificial interiors. As ‘freaks’, they rarely go out onto the street. A confrontation with the rest of the world could have fatal consequences. Director Eduardo Casanova’s strictly symmetrical, pink and purple world is populated by ‘deformed’ people that include the fat, the small, and a woman born without eyes who works as a sex worker. Spanish director Casanova’s episodic feature-length debut is an extension of his previous shorts. Making use of deliberately artificial images he explores the lives of those who, living on the margins of society, are rarely granted places in which they feel secure. However, their situation is not as hopeless as it at first seems, and beauty is a term that is redefined at least once during the course of the film.

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13.02. / 17:00 Cubix 9


Richard the Stork
Überflieger – Kleine Vögel, großes Geklapper

Germany/Belgium/Luxembourg/Norway 2016
84′
Director: Toby Genkel
Cast: Tilman Döbler, Christian Gaul, Nicolette Krebitz, Marco Eßer

`What kind of a sparrow are you?’ · ‘I…I am a stork.’ When Richard awakes one fall morning to find himself alone in his stork nest, he’s aghast. How could the others have left him behind? Undaunted, Richard sets out alone for Africa to prove to his stork family that he’s one of them. Unfortunately, there’s one inconvenient truth: Richard is in fact a sparrow and not at all equipped with what it takes to complete such a long-distance flight. On his voyage across Europe, he encounters a whole cast of winged oddballs, including Mafiosi crows and high voltage pigeons, as well as the helpful owl Olga and karaoke-loving parakeet Kiki, who are both blessed with brilliant ideas. Through his many adventures, Richard finally learns that it’s actually not so bad being a sparrow amongst the most colourful birds.

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13.02. / 12:30 Filmtheater am Friedrichshain


Strong Island
Strong Island

USA/Denmark 2017
107′
Director: Yance Ford

In a phone call at the beginning of Yance Ford’s film an employee for the district attorney refuses to make any more statements regarding the murder of William Ford and declares herself unwilling to take part in his documentary. William was Yance Ford’s brother; his murder in 1992 threw his family into a state of shock. Their devastation came about not just because this young Afro-American man was shot and killed by a white car mechanic for an apparently trifling reason, but also because of what was to follow. Ford’s subjective camera tells the story of a black middle-class family in America, a country which was, and still is, characterised by injustice and racism. His film is a puzzle, the pieces of which cannot be put together. Interweaving personal essay, detective investigation and documentary interviews with friends and relatives, he succeeds in painting a personal and political picture of the mood of this unequal country during the Obama era. Ford’s concentrated, often minimalistic cinematic language describes simmering anger, grief and his own transgender coming out – as well as the relativity of equal opportunities.

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13.02. / 22:00 CineStar 7


Ein Weg
Paths

Germany 2017
107′
Director: Chris Miera
Cast: Mike Hoffmann, Mathis Reinhardt, Tom Böttcher, Cai Cohrs

A kiss by the sea, a promise for life. Who goes to the Baltic coast in the autumn? Nobody except Martin and Andreas. They come here every year and, every year, their son Max is a bit taller, and their own faces a bit older. This time Martin is fed up. The weather’s unpleasant and he’d much rather have stayed at home. Andreas on the other hand tears off his clothes and jumps into the freezing sea. A worried Martin tries to stop him and, stumbling, gulps down the salty water. Back at their holiday home the mood is weighed down by their different expectations of how they should spend their holidays together. What do they have left after all these years? So many films about relationships end at the point when the couple have found each other. For director Chris Miera however this is precisely the moment when the interesting stories begin. What is the force that causes two people out of billions to decide to spend so much of their lives together? And what makes couples decide to part after such a long time? These are the questions that Ein Weg (Paths) sensitively investigates.

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13.02. / 19:30 CinemaxX 3


Wilde Maus
Wild Mouse

Austria 2017
103′
Director: Josef Hader
Cast: Josef Hader, Pia Hierzegger, Georg Friedrich, Jörg Hartmann

Georg feels confident and at ease in his position as a member of a Viennese newspaper’s editorial staff. He is both loved and feared – as befits an established music critic who wields a sharp pen. But then he is suddenly made redundant. A cost-cutting measure, he is told – before being shown the door. But instead of telling his young wife Johanna, whose thoughts currently revolve around her desire for children and her next ovulation, Georg is out for revenge. He finds an ally in giving vent to his anger at his ex-boss in the shape of an old school friend, Erich. What begins with minor property damage soon turns into a campaign of all out terror. At the same time, Georg and Erich have a go at trying to revive a dilapidated rollercoaster in Vienna’s Prater amusement park – the legendary ‘wild mouse’. In his directorial debut, cabaret artist and actor Josef Hader tells a funny, dramatic story about the Austrian middle-classes’ private fears of failure and social decline. A witty and ironic film that reflects on how a bourgeois life can go awry – and then perhaps manages to get back on an even keel after all.

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13.02. / 09:30 Haus der Berliner Festspiele