Here you’ll find a taste of what’s to come in the 32nd TEDDY AWARD at the Berlinale, taking place from 15th – 25th February. Throughout the festival we’ll be interviewing the directors and teams behind the TEDDY films, which you can catch on our YouTube channel: For more details on the TEDDY AWARD 2018, check out our programme magazine
Bixa Travesty (Tranny Fag)
Director: Claudia Priscilla, Kiko Goifman
Brazil 2018, 75′, Portuguese
Linn da Quebrada is a black transwoman from impoverished periurban São Paulo; she is also a pop performer who raises her voice for queers of colour from the favelas. Accompanied by her childhood friend and partner in crime, black transwoman and singer Jup do Bairro, her concerts are nothing short of dazzling. Aided by exorbitant costumes and plenty of twerking, her performances are onslaughts of electro against Brazil’s white heteronormative gender order and the machismo of the country’s funk scene. Private moments reveal her gentler side: as she showers with friends or cooks with her mother the talk turns to love, racism and poverty. Archive footage in the shape of home videos shows her in intimate performances at a hospital during her own cancer treatment. We begin to realise that Linn uses radical nudity as a means to undermine accepted gender roles. This documentary also shows her in dramatised radio interviews in which she powerfully espouses her convictions about feminism and her transsexuality: not for Linn the role of a cis woman; she’d rather be a woman with a penis whose gender identity is not bound by her genitalia but is in a permanent state of flux.
Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033
Director: Zach Blas,
USA/Great Britain 2018 29′, English, Spanish
Inspired by Derek Jarman’s 1978 queer punk film Jubilee, Contra-Internet: Jubilee 2033 follows Ayn Rand and members of her Collective, including Alan Greenspan, on an acid trip in 1955. Casting Susanne Sachsse as Ayn Rand, Zach Blas stages a psychedelic fever dream that sees the philosopher and her hangers-on transported to a dystopian future Silicon Valley. As Apple, Facebook, and Google campuses burn, their guide, artificial intelligence Azuma, reveals that Ayn has become a celebrity philosopher to tech executives, as her writings foster their entrepreneurial spirit. Amidst the wreckage, Rand and The Collective are introduced to the Internet and bear witness to techies being captured by anti-campus groupies. Inside an occupied office park, the group encounters Nootropix, a contra-sexual, contra-internet prophet, who lectures on the end of the internet as we know it. Seeking respite, Rand and The Collective find themselves at Silicon Beach, where chunks of polycrystalline silicon mix with sand and ocean.
Der Himmel auf Erden (Heaven on Earth)
Director: Reinhold Schünzel, Alfred Schirokauer
Germany 1927, 113′, German intertitles
Local representative Traugott Bellmann is a vocal critic of society’s moral decline in general and the notorious nightclub “Heaven on Earth” in particular. Just his luck that he inherits the place – along with half a million marks – and furthermore, on the day, of all days, that he is appointed president of the Moral Decency League! And just his luck that the terms of the inheritance from his deceased brother stipulate that Bellmann has to spend every night from ten to three in the morning in his newly-acquired “den of iniquity”. Adding to the just his luck scenario is the fact that it all happens on Bellmann’s wedding day, with the daughter of a respectably champagne bottler waiting for her bridegroom in the bedroom … Shimmy, jazz, and Ziegfeld-style girl revues. With risqué innuendo and effervescent humour, the film turns elements of urbane entertainment into an attack on the 1926 obscenity law. At the same time, it celebrates cinema as a circus medium by elevating small artistes to large presences. Doors slam in the style of Ernst Lubitsch, while star Reinhold Schünzel, who would later direct Viktor and Viktoria, gives us a chic female impersonator as a jazz age gender bend.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Director: Gus Van Sant
USA 2018 113′, English
John has a penchant for off-colour jokes – and a drinking problem. And so, when somebody he met at a party suggests they go on an all-night bender in L.A. he simply can’t refuse. But after falling asleep in a drunken stupor on his drinking buddy’s passenger seat, he wakes up the next morning in hospital, a quadriplegic. Confined to a wheelchair for life at the age of 21, he now requires every last drop of his sense of humour to rediscover meaning in his existence. He is aided by Annu who brings back his lust for life, as well as Donny, a hippie whose unconventional Alcoholics Anonymous meetings draw together people from all walks of life and help them see things from a whole new perspective. John discovers beauty and humour in the depths of human experience and uses his artistic talent to turn these discoveries into brilliantly observed cartoons. Gus Van Sant’s biopic is based on the memoirs of cartoonist John Callahan. This is a tender, melancholy yet hope-filled and life-affirming fictionalised portrait of a life of limitations. As in many of his films, here too Van Sant addresses the search for identity in the environs of social subcultures and unusual milieus.
Escape From Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith
Director: Jerry Tartaglia
In his essay film, Jerry Tartaglia, longtime archivist and restorer of the film estate of queer New York underground, experimental film, and performance legend Jack Smith, deals less with Smith’s life than with his work, analyzing Smith’s aesthetic idiosyncrasies in 21 thematic chapters. “Escape From Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith is a film essay about the artist’s work, rather than a documentary about his life. Therefore, it does not present a rational, linear, and detached explanation of his work. Instead, it asks the viewer to sympathetically experience the aesthetic choices behind the work of Jack Smith. This strategy that I have chosen creates a challenge for the viewer, particularly those who are reliant upon external commentary or non-diegetic material in the documentary film form; I have no apology to offer those who cannot bear the unmediated vision of Jack Smith; only an invitation to join him in his lost paradise.”
Director: Barbara Hammer
USA 2018, 10′, Without dialogue
A life lived within the sprocket holes of film can still dance. The beauty of the human body, although maimed, dances forward. Hope does not live eternal but daily. An audience immersed in three screens to feel the encasement of illness, the isolation of the material body. The forever ongoing chain of film runs but cannot hold up the protagonist. Time is flexible as the body transforms and the film loops. A trilogy of the self, witness of decline and suffering, performing the unthinkable, inevitable, dance of death. Three surrounds, enfolds, embraces the one who cannot stand alone. We, as human beings on a small globe, united by evolutionary structure and biological DNA have a chance to come together through the experience of empathy and identification with the sensitive body. An unspoken plea for viewers to engage with compassion, to experience vulnerability, to know through evidence this body is their body.
Director: Alina Skrzeszewska
France/Germany 2018 90′, English
Skid Row in Los Angeles is the infamous ‘homeless capital’ of the USA. Anyone who is trying to learn the rules of the game and survive here has a really tough time, as the stories of the two protagonists of this film, Teri and Tiahna, reveal. Life for this lesbian couple is
a constant round of prison, alcoholism and drug peddling, but there is hope, too. Their biographies are typical for the lives of Afro- American women living on the edge of American society. During a workshop initiated by the filmmaker for women in this community, they address their memories and their traumas and embark on a process of transformation during which they come into view as self- determining subjects rather than as victims. Social protests against homelessness in the neighbourhood, or the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign are just as much a part of their lives as is the matter-of-fact way in which they choose to live as lesbians, or their bitter struggle with the authorities for their own four walls. The film’s intimate, observational camerawork helps tell the story of two women who manage to escape Skid Row but who are nonetheless bound by the constraints of their environment.
India 2018 105′, Hindi
A young, seemingly mute woman has been fixed to the wall of an apartment with a long metal chain. She is being kept as a slave in the home of taxi driver Phanishwar, where she sleeps on a table and cooks for him. Phanishwar is a fervent supporter of the right-wing extremist guru ‘Baba’ and spreads his hatred in the commentary sections of social networks. One day he meets a young woman, Rami, who has had to go underground in Goa after a secretly filmed sex video in which she appeared went viral on the internet. He becomes her driver, whilst secretly stalking her online. Indian director Q does not shy away from controversy, having already succeeded in inflaming passions with the dark tales in his feature film debut, Gandu. His stylishly shot revenge story Garbage revolves around two women who are exposed to different forms of oppression. Q initially takes time to develop the events, making some (queer) detours until eventually, things radically change. And when female martyrdom turns into retaliation, the director finds drastic images for the filmic deconstruction of (Indian) masculinity.
Director: Jenna Bass
South Africa 2017 74′, English
‘I’m not trying to escape who I am. This is it, I was born in this body and I can’t escape it, no. Am I angry at what it is? Yes.’ An innocuous idea, since you can assume it would never actually happen: finding yourself in someone else’s body. Yet that is exactly what befalls Lexi and her friends during a camping trip. The shock is immense, especially given the friction that had already existed before the inexplicable event: not only between the three young women and Thami, the only man – but also between Lexi, who is white, and Xoli, who is black. Under the body swapping spell, conflicts erupt that are symptomatic of social upheaval in the South African rainbow nation. Captured with the protagonists’ smartphones, what unfolds is a shrewd and cutting essay on the politics of the body, decades after the end of apartheid.
Director: Shahram Mokri
Iran 2017 102′, Farsi
Eternal darkness seems to shroud the stadium where men with bizarre tattoos pursue a sport that is never shown or named. A body has been found here, and the police have already identified a guilty party. Now the circumstances of the crime are to be reconstructed, so that the case can be quickly shelved. However, the real killer and his teammates want to use the reconstruction to commit another crime. The twin sister of the victim, who is said to be a vampire, is to be killed. But during the re-enactment of the murder, the players forget their role, chaos breaks out and the characters seem to be caught in an endless loop in which events repeat themselves in different ways. The disquieting feeling that time is dissolving, that past, present and future are becoming one and that history has
been halted is likely to strike a chord with how many young Iranians feel about their lives. Shahram Mokri’s intimate drama ominously interweaves place, space and time in the stadium’s labyrinthine corridors to form a dark allegory.
Je fais où tu me dis (Dressed for Pleasure)
Director: Marie de Maricourt
Switzerland 2017 17′, French
Following on the heels of Lick Us, Meow, Meow! (Generation 2016) Marie de Maricourt’s back with another dazzling rebellion involving sexual identity. There’s no space for Sarah’s desires under her parents’ roof – the prevailing climate in the bourgeois household feels more constricting to the young woman than her wheelchair. With the aid of a furtive accomplice Sarah finds ways to transform her gloomy abode into a veritable pleasure dome.
18′, Swedish Director: Olivia Kastebring, Julia Gumpert, Ulrika Bandeira
Juck is sex. Juck is energy. Juck is protest. Juck is therapy. Juck is action. Juck is dominance. Juck is provocation. Juck is tolerance. Juck is movement. Juck is fantasy. Juck is arousal. Juck is utopia. Juck is seeing one’s self, even if it’s tough. Juck is not apologizing for existing. ‘Femininity is a word that we can fill up with whatever we want,’ they say. They fill it up with Juck.
Director: Katharina Mückstein
Austria 2018 97′, German
In Austria the final school exam is known as the ‘Matura’. Unlike the German word ‘Abitur’ (from the Latin ‘abire’ meaning ‘to walk away’), the Austrian term also includes the notion of coming of age. Mati wants to become a veterinary doctor, like her mother, and therefore leave the confines of her small-town universe for Vienna. But is she ready for this future? Standing in her ‘Matura’ dress
with her long hair scraped back into a tight bun and her neck hair shaved bare, she’d be the first to admit she looks like a clown. Mati loves to spend time with the boys bombing around the quarry on her motocross bike. When one of the girls from her school resists when one of Mati’s mates begins sexually harassing her at a disco, Mati spits in her face. But, just like her parent’s marriage, Mati’s motocross gang also ruptures once notions of friendship, love and sexuality become more pressing. In her second feature-length drama, Katharina Mückstein uses clear words and images and cool synthesiser beats to tell the story of an inscrutable young woman on the brink of ‘walking away’. Her parents’ silence tells us that being mature and facing up to the future doesn’t have anything to do with your age.
Las herederas (The Heiresses)
Director: Marcelo Martinessi
Paraguay/Uruguay/Germany/Brazil/Norway/ France 2018, 95′, Spanish
Chela and Chiquita have been a couple for a very long time. Over the years they have become adapted to a fixed allocation of roles. Extroverted Chiquita is responsible for managing their life together. Chela on the other hand is reluctant to leave the house, preferring to spend the day at her easel. Financial difficulties force them to sell some of their inherited furniture, each part of which is a beloved piece of memorabilia. When Chiquita is sent to prison for debt, Chela is suddenly left on her own. She uses her old Daimler to provide a taxi service to wealthy older ladies in the neighbourhood. In her new role as chauffeur, she meets one of these ladies’ daughters – the young and life-affirming Angy. The encounter lures the rather passive Chela out of her reserve and helps her rediscover her own desires. Exploring the outside world as tentatively and carefully as its heroine, the film increasingly trains its gaze on a social strata that is strangely cut-off from reality and lives without a thought for tomorrow. However, when Chela visits her girlfriend in prison, a completely different picture emerges of conditions in Paraguay.
Ludwig der Zweite, König von Bayern (Ludwig II of Bavaria)
Director: Wilhelm Dieterle
Germany 1930, 132′, German intertitles
In the last years of his life, Bavarian king Ludwig II (1845 – 1886) devotes himself to ambitious architectural projects, which strain the state coffers to the extreme. The monarch, who is afraid of people, also withdraws more and more into a dream world at his various castles. His brother is already in a psychiatric institute and Ludwig is also eventually put under the care of psychiatrist Bernhard von Gudden. The king attempted to get out from under this guardianship at Starnberg lake … “If the upper echelons don’t like you, you must go …” Taking a down to earth point of view, this story of the “fairy tale king” depicts the descent of a broken character into mental breakdown. In Wilhelm Dieterle’s interpretation, fawning courtiers and officials, the heir apparent, and the medical profession all contributed to hastening the collapse. So the dispassionate film, which did not hide Ludwig’s fascination with the naked male body, drew intense criticism from Bavaria. When Berlin’s censorship board refused to intervene, Munich’s police commissioner imposed a ban on showing it on the grounds that it was “a danger to the public order.”
Malambo, el hombre bueno (Malambo, the Good Man)
Director: Santiago Loza
Argentina 2017 71′, Spanish
Dignified, strong and formidable, and oozing erotic attraction: young malambo dancer Gaspar is at one with his passion for dance that he has made his profession. But, as director Santiago Loza makes clear at the beginning of his film, the Argentinian competitive dance malambo is an uncompromising battle against time. This is a dance to which you devote your entire life and, even if you should happen to win the top championship joust, you are henceforth condemned to training the next generation or to appearing in nightly cruise shows, for there is no possibility to take part in this competition again. Loza’s contrasty, magical black-and-white images whisk us away into the world of Argentinian gaucho dance. Billed as a fiction, his film comes across as a mixture of documentary, fairy-tale, biography and essay in which he juxtaposes the beauty of the dance battles with the harsh realities faced by the dancer himself. Gaspar’s devotion begins to take its toll on his body. There seems to be no longer anything else but malambo. In his few rare encounters with life beyond the dance floor Gaspar meets family members, competitors and his flatmate – all in the heat of his tiny apartment.
Director: Martín Rodríguez Redondo
Argentina/Chile 2018 80′, Spanish
There’s not much going on in this part of rural Argentina where a shy young man named Marcos lives with his family. Theirs is a modest existence, where gender roles are clearly demarcated. The hot summer doesn’t make life any easier, but money needs to be earned and the herd of cattle must be kept together. Marcos manages to carve out little islands of freedom during his routine; in these moments he likes to put make-up on his childlike face or slip into colourful dresses behind closed doors. Carnival is just around the corner; this year’s event will change Marcos’ life as dramatically as the family’s unexpected relocation. Martín Rodríguez Redondo’s cinematic debut is a tender portrait of youth and initially repressed self-discovery, told with serene understatement, devoid of guiding music. The roar of motorbikes promises both freedom and danger and, although there appears to be no escape from this world, the situation is far from hopeless for at some point young Federico appears on the scene. The images are contemplative and the narrative linear, yet the course taken by the film’s seemingly predictable trajectory is nonetheless surprising. A story based on true events.
Mes provinciales (A Paris Education)
Director: Jean Paul Civeyrac
France 2018 136′, French
Filled with expectations, Etienne moves to Paris from Lyon to study film directing at the Sorbonne. He leaves behind his girlfriend Lucie, promising to call her regularly via Skype. On his course he meets Jean-Noël and Mathias, they too have come to the metropolis from smaller cities and share his passion for cinema. Together they discuss the cinematic canon, read texts by Flaubert and Pasolini, and listen to Bach and Mahler. Jean-Noël proves to be an agreeable friend who tries to strengthen Etienne’s fragile self-confidence; Mathias, on the other hand, often comes across as stern, aloof and mysterious. Fond of arguing, he has a habit of disappearing for weeks on end without the others knowing where he is. Nobody gets to see his student film, either. Etienne is particularly crestfallen when he discovers by chance that Mathias shares a secret with Annabelle, an idealistic young woman who lives in Etienne’s shared flat and with whom he is secretly in love. Jean Paul Civeyrac’s tenderly melancholic black-and-white study of these young people’s encounter with art and life is at the same time a declaration of love for classic cinema and the city of Paris.
Director: Evangelia Kranioti
France/Greece 2018 60′, Portuguese
Slowly and elegiacally, the camera glides at first over a forest shrouded in fog, then over a panorama of Rio de Janeiro. An off-screen voice tells us that Rio is a factory of dreams and nightmares, a city of transformations. In her essayistic film Obscuro Barroco Greek director Evangelia Kranioti explores the poetic words of her transgender narrator Luana Muniz, who is herself an icon of Brazil’s queer subculture. Amidst a somnambulistic tide of images she enters the pulsating world of creatures of the night. A stream of consciousness from Brazil’s underground flows straight into the heart of the city’s street carnival. In between the masks and the make-up, the young, naked and new bodies and a spectacular firework display, people come into view who have undergone a transformation that makes it difficult to clearly ascribe them to any gender. A white clown leads us through the film’s visual universe in which, all of a sudden, raw-faced anti-government protests also put in an appearance. And then, behind closed doors, all is bared, the ‘transvestites’ are serenaded and celebrate who they are until the dream culminates in one ecstatic dance.
Onde o Verão Vai (episódios da juventude)/ Where the Summer Goes (chapters on youth)
Director: David Pinheiro Vicente
Portugal 2018 20′, Portuguese
The summer heat shimmers. A group of friends drives to the forest. Their bodies are packed tightly into the car, four on the backseat and two up front. The men kiss. In the woods they happen upon a snake. The snake coils itself around the young man’s foot. The girl holds it in her hands. Two men eat peaches. After the kiss, the day is over. The composition of the group in a picture frame recalls the early films of Asghar Farhadi, in which time and again the individual is also faced with the group. The staging of youth is modern and at the same time their gazes and gestures reference Baroque painting, without ever losing sight of the present day. In four chapters, 21- year-old David Vincente appropriates the beginning of all of the stories of the monotheistic religions and gives it a fresh interpretation. Reframing history.
Para Aduma (Red Cow)
Director: Tsivia Barkai Yacov
Israel 2018 90′, Hebrew
‘How do you feel about intimate relations? Speak freely, don’t hold back.’ · ‘I think it’s the highest connection between two souls.’ Benny’s hair is as red as the fur of her devout father’s treasured calf – which he believes will bring salvation. But the 17-year-old feels as lonely and trapped as the calf in its enclosure. Benny’s mother died giving birth to her, and she grew up alone with her caring yet patriarchal father. He is a figure of authority and a mentor for many people in their Jerusalem religious community. Benny becomes increasingly critical of her father’s religious, utopian nationalism and then there’s Yael, the self-confident young woman who has set off a whirlwind of longing and emotions in her. Avigayil Koevary powerfully portrays the defiance and desire of a young woman in Tsivia Barkai Yacov’s debut feature film.
Director: Abel Ferrara
France/Italy/Belgium 2014 84′, English, Italian, French
There are no indications that it will be the last day in the life of Italian writer and director Pier Paolo Pasolini. As usual, he spends the morning of November 2, 1975 with his mother, before reading the newspaper and working on a screenplay. Actress Laura Betti comes by for lunch. That afternoon at home, Pasolini meets yet another journalist for an interview about his “scandalous” film Saló, o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodom). In the evening, he has dinner with friends at a restaurant, then drives his Alfa Romeo to the local gay pick-up strip, where 17-year-old Pino Pelosi gets into the director’s car. The two drive to the beach at Ostia, where a group of young men appear out of the darkness … The linear biopic narrative is interspersed with scenes shot based on Pasolini’s final screenplay. Among other things, those film snippets show veteran Pasolini actor Ninetto Davoli visiting an alleged “homosexual paradise”. In contrast to Davoli’s exuberant comic mien, Willem Dafoe plays the director as a contemplative person. Enriched with many original Pasolini quotes, his intense portrayal gives us a hint of what might have been…
Director: Nate Trinrud
USA 2017 14′, English
Jesse is creative and seldom at a loss for words. But how can she confess to her best friend that she is in love – with her, no less? Should she act it out with finger puppets? No, too silly. Write a love letter? Maybe. Or should she just tell her? With great compassion and a dash of irony, the film depicts the emotional world of a teenager in love and torn between fierce determination and fear of disappointment.
Director: Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L.
Peru/Germany/Norway 2017 101′, Quechua, Spanish
‘Are you not happy working with him?’ · ‘I want to see other things. You will get lost out there.’ · ‘Why can the others go and I can’t?’ · ‘Because you are an artisan not a peasant.’ Segundo sees silence as his only option for dealing with his father Noé’s secret. The 14-year-old lives with his parents in a village high up in the mountains of Peru. Noé is a respected artisan and Segundo’s role model. With loving eye for detail, he artfully crafts altarpieces for church and homes, and is preparing his son to follow in his footsteps. But cracks form in their tight bond. The film takes an unflinching look behind the facades of a seemingly intact village community, in which patriarchal rules are imposed with unrelenting violence. In saturated colours, a panorama view of a world in which a young artist is finding his place.
Director: Isao Yukisada
Japan 2018 118′, Japanese
Tokyo, 1994. In a video interview a young woman discusses the significance of a teddy bear. Shortly afterwards, a burning object falls from a high-rise building at night. A young man, naked and bound, falls out of a locker. Two fisherman talk about a water spirit. In his unusual drama River’s Edge Isao Yukisada lays many trails and jumps as abruptly and unpredictably between the various narrative threads as do his characters: Ichiro is gay; he is preyed upon by his violent fellow pupils but seems to draw strength from his injuries. He makes a gruesome discovery at a nearby river polluted by industrial waste and shows it to his best friend, a girl named Haruna. Kannonzaki loves rough sex and in the course of it transgresses more and more boundaries. An introverted girl obsessively reads her pregnant sister’s diaries and Kozue, a model with bulimia, buries herself in mountains of food at night. All these and other stories are brilliantly interwoven into a breathless social portrait of a driven but apparently lost generation and their seemingly unavoidable encounters with violence.
Director: Leilah Weinraub
USA 2018 82′, English
‘Shakedown’ was a series of parties founded by and for African American women in Los Angeles that featured go-go dancing and
strip shows for the city’s lesbian underground scene. Inspired by transwoman Mahogany who, as the mother of the scene, presided over queer strip shows and balls for non-heterosexual audiences in the 1980s, butch Ronnie Ron created, produced and presented the new shows. In them, the largely female clientele from the ‘hood’ slipped dollar notes into lap dancers’ panties while celebrating lesbian sexuality to pulsating hip-hop beats. Showing the protagonists backstage and in interviews, this intimate chronicle reveals that ‘Shakedown’ was more than just a strip club; as one of the few spaces for lesbian subculture, the club brought together and galvanised a community of freaks and queers of colour, and for that it suffered police reprisals. The film’s director is herself a member of this community; using exclusive archive material, posters and flyers, her film takes a personal look at female desire that is rarely presented on the big screen.
The Happy Prince
Director: Rupert Everett
Germany/Belgium/Italy 2017 105′, English, French, Italian
At the end of the 19th century, dandy Oscar Wilde is the darling of London society – witty, humorous and scandalous. However, his open homosexuality is too much for the times in which he lives and he is sent to prison. Impoverished and stricken by ill health at
the time of his release, he goes into exile in Paris. After a half-hearted attempt to reconcile with his wife, he resumes his relationship with the young Lord Douglas, which plunges him into total disaster. All he has left are his fanciful stories, with which he conquers the affection of two street boys. Supported by loyal friends who try to protect him from his own excesses, he manages to retain his charm and irony to the bitter end: ‘Either this hideous wallpaper goes – or I do …’ Written and directed by Rupert Everett, who also plays the leading role, this biopic focuses on the last years of the once celebrated and later disgraced writer. Flashbacks and associative dream images depict him as the eccentric bon vivant he was to remain throughout his life in a portrait that expands to become a panorama of the emerging modern era.
The Silk and the Flame
Director: Jordan Schiele
87′, Mandarin, English
Unmarried Yao travels from Beijing to his village to celebrate the Chinese New Year – the most important family event in the country. The money he earns in the big city provides not only for his old parents but also his siblings and their children, who take it for granted that they should live off his regular payments as well. His mother, who has been deaf since childhood, looks after his care-dependent father. The latter desperately wants to see his second son married to the right woman, but Yao himself would prefer to find the right man. He has done well in the capital and his outstanding achievements have earned his father’s respect but, ever the dutiful son, he finds himself putting aside his own needs in order to support the family’s continued demands. A touching insight into everyday life in China, where the economic boom of the cities is in stark contrast to the poverty experienced by those living in the countryside. Jordan Schiele depicts the sparseness of village life in timeless black-and-white, juxtaposing loud, chaotic family scenes with Yao’s reflective monologues.
Director: Lara Zeidan
Great Britain 2017 9′, Arabic
A moment of floating, standstill. Four girlfriends are sitting in the gondola of a Ferris wheel. The camera takes in the view of the Mediterranean sea on the Lebanese coast, watches the girls boarding the gondola, turns a round with them, rides up to the very top. Then, the wheel suddenly comes to a halt and so does the camera. Their conversation has just comes to an abrupt end when Manal confesses that she has a girlfriend.
Tinta Bruta (Hard Paint)
Director: Marcio Reolon, Filipe Matzembacher
Pedro earns a living in chat rooms. The image resolution may not be perfect but when Pedro transforms himself into NeonBoy in
front of the webcam he still manages to create the desired impression. Slowly, this young man dips his fingers into pots of coloured paint and glides them across his naked body. Glowing in the dark, NeonBoy follows his users’ commands until he agrees to meet
one of them in a private chat room for money. But things change when Pedro’s sister Luzia moves out of their shared apartment and he notices that somebody is imitating his performances. He agrees to go on a date with his mysterious rival. This rendezvous will
have far-reaching consequences. As with all of the previous films by directing duo Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon, we find ourselves again in Porto Alegre in northern Brazil, where we encounter young queers in search of intimacy, community and security. The elegantly interwoven virtual images and protagonists’ stories may take us away from the real world, yet in actuality we remain in an increasingly homophobic Brazilian society to whose misfits this sensitive, affectionate portrait in three acts is dedicated.
Touch Me Not
Director: Adina Pintilie 125′, English, German
Laura cannot bear to be touched and recoils whenever anyone catches hold of her or takes her hand. She goes to see a therapist,
and orders a male prostitute, but her body is still like an armour. In a loose succession of scenes, we follow other people in search
of intimacy. Christian, who has to live with many physical impairments, talks candidly about what turns him on, what turns him off and his love life with his long-standing girlfriend. The couple participate in a workshop on body awareness attended by people of all ages, with and without disabilities, such as Tudor. His bald head makes him seem strangely vulnerable and he has yet to discover and accept the manifold forms of his desire. The cool images and laboratory-like atmosphere of this film help the viewer to jettison their own preconceived opinions and ideas of intimacy, as it takes us on an emotional expedition to illuminate the many different facets of sexuality beyond all taboos. Each scene develops its own sense of truthfulness, regardless of whether the situations have been staged or present documentary footage.
Director: Manque La Banca
Argentina 2018 16′, Spanish
A mystical place, an enchanted story: A group of knights, imported directly from the Middle Ages, go ashore on the banks of the Río De La Plata. They are searching for a grave where they wish to perform a ritual. As they pass through the jungle, things happen that cause them to land in the present day. They have sex, find a car, enjoy a sunset with beers in their hands. Then an announcement comes over the radio that makes everything appear in a different light, and there’s no going back. This past summer demonstrations took place in southern Argentina against the Italian fashion and textile company Benetton. The company owns enormous tracts of land there that originally belonged to the Mapuche people. The indigenous Mapuche have been trying to get their property back for years in order to live in a self-determined manner. The protests were associated with excesses on both sides; Santiago Maldonado, who demonstrated with the Mapuche, disappeared in their midst. “Never again” was the widespread sentiment at the end of the dictatorship in Argentina, now the old threat seems to be looming again. There is no escape from reality – one has to face up to it. The filmmaker breaks open prevalent stereotypes in order to tell his own story free of hegemonial interference.
Tuzdan kaide (The Pillar of Salt)
Director: Burak Çevik
Turkey 2018 70′, Turkish
A pregnant young woman who lives in a sort of cave is looking for her vanished sister, yet this plot summary hardly does justice to
the charm, richness and radical nature of Burak Çevik’s first feature – all of which a result of the liberties he takes in creating an extravagant cinematic world to tell this story. The protagonist leaves her almost fairytale-like cave to set out across a river, taking up her sister’s trail. This trail leads her to a botanical garden, a bird shop, and a darkroom. The photo lab technician compares the effect of photographs to God turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt because she couldn’t resist the temptation of turning around to see Sodom be destroyed. Captured for eternity, transfixed for eternity – should we take it at face value when the protagonist tells the boatwoman that she is a part-time vampire? The dreamlike way in which the film digresses to show us a plant, a strip of negatives, or a table tennis match contributes considerably to the strange fascination it develops. Some things remain mysterious – which only makes us even more curious about what they might be referring to.
Yours in Sisterhood
Director: Irene Lusztig
USA 2018 101′, English
A petrol station at an Atlanta intersection. A private estate in Bowling Green, Kentucky, complete with a perfect lawn. The front yard of a family home in Connecticut. At first glance, the places Irene Lusztig chose to visit on her two-year journey through the United States seem unremarkable. At each stop, Lusztig had local women read out and comment on letters from the archive of liberal feminist magazine “Ms.”. These letters were originally sent around 40 years ago in response to articles in the magazine, serving also as outlets for their writers, mainly women, to share their personal stories – with intimacy and candour, at times full of relief, at other rage. The letters recount experiences of abortions or lesbian affairs with married women and rail against the magazine’s ignorance of what real life meant for black women. Irene Lusztig’s documentary set-up succeeds in bringing a wealth of experiences from an earlier generation of the feminist movement into a complex dialogue with the present. The written word only appears to be at the fore, beyond it, there lies a whole universe of feminism for the viewer to discover, which Yours in Sisterhood makes accessible on many levels.