On the fifth day of the Berlinale special edition, we had the pleasure of “interrogating” director Yana Ugrekhelidze about her recent feature film INSTRUCTIONS FOR SURVIVAL. In an insightful interview, she presents the story centred around a couple whose lives are a constant battle yet decide to stick together against all odds.
Director Ronny Trocker’s second feature film, HUMAN FACTORS (original title: “Der menschliche Faktor”) is a subtle family drama that smoothly transitions between different perspectives of an event. It circles around the microcosm of family and questions our perception of reality and how we experience it. A must-see feature that keeps you on the edge of the seat.
“Who are you?” – “The queen of punks, in the land of pain in the ass.” Seven girls live under the same roof but haven’t chosen each other, just like a family. Emerging from difficult backgrounds, here in the safe house, the girls find a new community, in a way they’d never experienced before. They are sharing joy and pain, passionately rebel against the shortcomings of their surrounding – the young women’s temperaments are different, their lust for life large, their place in society too precarious for things to be all peace, love and harmony. Home director Lora is always there for them when they need her. Or is it the other way around?
Resembling a rediscovered film reel from the early days of cinema, Conrad Veit and Charlotte Maria Kätzl’s short film imagines a utopia where any and all life forms are equal. The experimental documentary defies the socially constructed binary classification of male and female and challenges the viewer to question the boundaries between humans and animals. This one is not to be missed!
Our final interview of today catches director Peter Hoar introducing the British series IT’S A SIN in a lovely talk with Zsombor. Created by the legendary BAFTA winner Russell T Davies, the series deals with the AIDS crisis in Great Britain in the early 1980s, a topic still so enormously relevant today.
TEDDY veteran Livia Huang joins us today, on the third day of the Berlinale Summer Special, to introduce her latest short film MORE HAPPINESS. Drawing upon her own family’s experiences as immigrants in the US, the film offers a touching insight into the challenges and isolation people are faced with when they don’t feel part of a community.
Over the course of two days and one night, as Lisa moves out of the apartment she has shared with Mara and into the one where she will live alone, many things will break and some will be repaired. Like the titular spider’s web, the film has a perfect, fragile geometry. Set almost entirely in interiors, it is also an involuntary summary of the paradoxical age of the pandemic. The transition from one abode to another, and the energy that is released between one story ending and another beginning, puts the entire ensemble into an altered state of grace… mehr
Alternating between waiting in the break room, having sex and lining up for the next john: Maria, a self-confident Italian in her mid-twenties, is new to the Berlin brothel where Sascha has been working for a long time. With her tattoos, her piercings and her penchant for writing poetry in a notebook during breaks, she is quite different from the others. The two women are immediately attracted to each other. Maria keeps her cash in a locker in the Berlin State Library. She regularly assures her father on the phone that she is doing well and earning a lot of money. For Sascha, the regional train connects her not only with her old life in provincial Brandenburg but also with her 11-year-old son… more
When a grave illness strikes down her father Paris, Artemis decides to return home to Greece after an absence of some years. Being the sole child of divorced parents, she is the only one who can look after Paris, who requires daily care. Father and daughter embark on a journey into knowledge and revelation, which heralds a new beginning for their relationship… more
In this feature debut by actor and podcast host Dasha Nekrasova, two mismatched roommates discover and relive the murky secrets of their new Upper East Side apartment. The film is as possessed as one of its protagonists: while she finds herself being taken over by the spirits of paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s young victims, the film itself is haunted by Italian “giallo” movies and 1970s psychological horror… more
DOCUMENTARY / ESSAYFILM
Director: Manque La Banca, Argentina / Braszil, 2021
There’s a monster in the Nahuel Huapi Lake. In the twilight, it spreads itself out across the surface of the water like a taut cowhide, grasping at its victims with sharp claws. Another monster also lurks in the surroundings of the lake, which is close to Bariloche in the Argentine Andes. It is called Capa Negra: the Black Cape. It haunts the ski slopes by night and should be avoided at all costs. Monsters from the legends of the Mapuche find their way into Manque La Banca’s feature-length debut Esquí via various twists and turns. Once there, they interact with the film’s other characters… more
Monika Treut’s Gendernauts was one of the first films to portray the transgender movement in San Francisco. Twenty years after the film screened in Panorama in 1999, Treut seeks out the pioneers of that time. What has changed? How have the lives of the protagonists evolved? San Francisco was once, as Annie Sprinkle puts it, the “clitoris of the USA”, but today the tech industry has a firm grip on the city. Aggressive gentrification has displaced the genderqueer community of yesteryear. Under the Trump administration, hard-won transgender rights are under massive pressure… more
Alexander’s transgender identity means he is obliged to lead a life of secrecy in his home country. Being identified as “female” in his passport means he cannot legally find work, either. Since even a visit to the doctor is a risk for him, he has begun hormone therapy to transition on his own with support from internet forums and the local transgender community. Desperate to escape their hopeless situation and leave the country, Alexander’s wife Mari decides to become a surrogate mother for 12,000 dollars. But their ostensibly pragmatic plan backfires… more
In this portrait that is multi-layered both in terms of form and content, a gay man confronts the ghosts of his past and explores hidden longings, unrequited love and tormenting feelings of guilt. Miguel was born in 1963 to a conservative, Catholic Lebanese father and an authoritarian mother from a wealthy Syrian family. Numerous conflicts over his national, religious and sexual identity compelled him to flee to Spain in his early twenties. In post-Franco Madrid where he lived an openly gay existence, his life resembled one long Almodóvarian orgy, full of excess and sexual taboo-breaking. This was followed first by a collapse and then a new beginning… more
Three years after the unexplained death of his niece Kalla, artist and filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his Mormon family’s home in the small town in Michigan where his father’s sawmill is located. His sister Jesse, who had found temporary stability as a mother after a difficult youth and addiction problems, is suspected by the authorities of being responsible, along with her partner David, for the death of their daughter Kalla… more
Director: Conrad Veit & Charlotte Maria Kätzl, Germany, 2020
Looking like a rediscovered film reel from the early days of cinema and with its “animal drag” costumes, this Dadaist nature documentary imagines a utopia where any and all life forms are equal. Fabulous creatures that defy the binary classification of male and female and the division between… more
On International Dawn Chorus Day (May 3, 2020), birds from six continents join an online video call. They gossip about storms and cats and wires and dates. They share speculations about Egyptian filmmaker Shady Habash, known for his satirical anti-dictator music videos, who died the day before in Cairo’s notorious Tora prison. They talk about Egyptian queer activist Sarah Hegazi, famously incarcerated for flying a rainbow flag at a Cairo concert, now living as a political refugee in Toronto. They don’t realise that… more
Director: Truong Minh Quý, France / Singapore, 2020
In mining, a slag heap refers to an artificially raised hill consisting of the cleared waste that accumulates during the extraction of raw materials. Birch trees now grow where workers from near and far once went underground to labour hard for very little money. Nowadays, this is a place where men meet to have anonymous sex and share moments of intimacy… more
One rainy night, Gonçalo sets off to give his lost love one last letter. “Beware of the slippery road!” warns Diana from the street corner. In vain. An accident that is both an end and a beginning… more
During a conversation late at night, a woman asks her mother how to be a good person. As they talk, the woman thinks about an old lover. Seasons change and memories accumulate that bring no respite… more
Just a few days after the exhilarating climax of the Berlinale – the TEDDY GALA 2020 – the lights went out everywhere, not just in our halls.
As you all know too well, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit cultural venues as well as professionals particularly hard, literally thinning the air they could breathe. Cinemas around the world have been closed indefinitely, film festivals have had to be cancelled or moved to a digital setting. At the same time, the private cinema – the movie experience at home – is becoming a popular evening activity thanks to the numerous streaming services.
But what about the movies? Weren’t these made for the cinema, and not to be used as an evening sideline to folding laundry?
We checked in with the TEDDY Filmmakers 2020 to find out what happened to their just-released films and how they’re coping under the seemingly never-ending restrictions.
Berlinale 2020 – One of the last festivals to take place before lockdown
Many filmmakers report that the Berlinale was in part the only “analog” festival they were able to attend.
Last year has been a very strange one but we have to say that we have been lucky in many ways. We managed to have our premiere in Berlin with you and also our national premiere at a film festival here in Stockholm before everything closed down. We are really thankful for that and still think about our time in Berlin and […] the amazing response we got from the audience <3
The Berlinale was the first and last festival we had the luck to be live at! Days after that we went back home and locked ourselves down… And we are still there. I feel grateful though; I can’t think of a better place to have our only in-person live projection, being able to share with colleagues and audiences. […] It was beautiful to remember this strange year it has passed. Of course, our most beloved memories of it are from Berlin.
Berlinale was a great breakthrough for the film around the globe, during weird times… The movie is still traveling, this is so important for our LGBTQ+ community. It means a lot!!! […] Also the movie was presented on many special screenings involving the Transgender Community in Brazil, and for Educational propose.
From live to online – what changes does that bring to the movies?
Despite Covid-19, many of the 2020 TEDDY films were screened at numerous film festivals around the world, albeit mostly online.
We are quite happy with ‘The Twentieth Century’, though the pandemic has been hard for the movie industry, and especially arthouse films. Festivals tried to adapt as quickly as possible by switching online, which is a good thing because it keeps the circuit open, though the collective experience of screenings is not the same.
During this last year, we have been virtually traveling with our short film all around the world: Argentina, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, US, UK, Albania, the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia, Estonia, Chile… And we plan on continuing the trip! It was amazing being able to share our piece with such diverse audiences. We are thrilled by all this!
Extractions seemed to do well at festivals […]. I found even virtually attending festivals to be difficult during times the programs were geolocked to certain regions. At the same time I got a lot of positive feedback about the film, and was able to participate in panels and discussions through zoom, which was really lovely. I think that film was a uniquely suited medium for switching to online presentations. However it can quickly get overwhelming to be watching films on a little computer screen all year.
While some films can be transferred relatively well from the cinema to the computer screen, other filmmakers do not see virtual film presentation as an adequate alternative that does justice to the film. Nicolaas Schmidt reports resignedly on his film Inflorescence:
Knowing that Inflorescence, like most of my works, was produced for cinema and lives from its special experiences, I had a hard time with the decision to make the film available online. (It felt like a betrayal of my work and my own person).
Heinz Emigholz is also struggling with the screening of his film ‘Die letzte Stadt’. He is waiting for cinemas to re-open.
The theatrical release was planned for December 2020, then postponed to February and is now further standby. The online release is not an alternative for us now, we wait until the cinemas open again. Even if some festivals took place online, the visibility of the film through Covid-19 is much lower, festivals are otherwise the multiplier for the films of Heinz Emigholz.
How does filmmaking work under Covid-19? These filmmakers report on both current and upcoming projects.
Thirza Cuthand about the shooting and the unusual editing via Zoom:
The last film I made last year was a short drama featuring special effects, stunts, and driving. And VFX. We were lucky to be able to shoot in a small window when the case numbers of COVID were very low, before the September second wave began. I was not sure how editing would go, but we made it work remotely through a lot of zoom sessions with screen sharing between the editor, myself, and the producer. […] It was a very strange way to make a film but the fact we were able to shoot it still was pretty awesome. This year the films I am working on are either still in the script stage, or are very experimental and I will be the only crew person filming things around my neighbourhood.
Heinz Emigholz works simultaneously on several films and an exhibition:
Last week we started shooting his latest film ‘Schlachthäuser der Moderne’ in Berlin, which we want to continue in Bolivia and Argentina from April. Due to the pandemic, this probably won’t work out, so we are preparing for a postponement.
So there is an ideal and an economic loss, but so far this has not been able to stop us from continuing to develop and produce projects.
Martina Matzkin also uses the lockdown period effectively:
As for our future plans, we had to stop the shooting of our first feature-length documentary. But we expect to start again soon. In the meantime, we have had the time to revisit the shot material and to develop new projects. We have even had the luck to be at online development labs and workshops… We have no plans to stop making films!