During this year’s Berlinale, Euronews Culture brings you news, reviews and gossip from Europe’s largest film festival.

The 73rd Berlin International Film Festival is in full swing, kicking off with political, cinematic lows and unforgettable highs.

Let’s start with politics…

The festival makes no secret of its political leanings and how involved it is with current events. The 73rd edition of the festival has been like this from the very beginning. This is not surprising as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues to rage and Iranian citizens continue to be imprisoned and executed by a regime determined to destroy human rights and free speech.

The Berlinale has announced plans for a series of special events, including panel discussions and red carpet protests in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and Iran. Artistic director Carlo Chatrian said the Berlinale will celebrate “the catalytic and revolutionary concept of cinema that unites even when it divides.”

This topic was discussed at the opening jury press conference.

A long time ago, 32-year-old jury president Kristen Stewart made some interesting comments about being the youngest president in the festival’s history, saying that we are currently living in “the most reactive and emotional era”, and the artist’s job is to “transform a disgustingly ugly thing, pass it through your body, and pop out something more beautiful and helpful.”

French-Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, who was a co-juror, spoke about the symbolism of being in Berlin, especially in the context of what is happening in Iran.

“Coming to Berlin is very symbolic, a city that has broken down the walls of equality, freedom and brought so many people together. This year it feels like the whole world is falling apart because of Ukraine, Iran and the earthquake – especially now Iran ,” Farahani said.

“In a dictatorship like Iran, art is not just an intellectual and philosophical thing – it’s essential, like oxygen. As an artist, your very existence is at risk. That’s why this year’s It’s been so amazing to be here. Arts and culture are a fire — we can come together and keep warm. I’m really happy to be here and fight for freedom, in Iran and in the world,” the actress said. Suddenly there was thunderous applause.

Hong Kong director Johnnie To responded to her commentsheroes never die, election) spoke about the role of film as a tool against oppressive regimes.

“Movies represent society as a whole. If a government wants to destroy a place, the first thing they want to do is destroy movie theaters. (…) If you want to fight for freedom, the first thing to do is support movies.”

Later that evening, Stewart and Farahani doubled down on the opening night at the Berlinale Festival Theater.

“There’s a lot of oppression against our physical selves. I’m a girl, but I’m probably the least marginalized female,” Stewart said.

As for Farahani, he said of the Iranian regime that it “lies and executes.”

“Iran’s prisons are full of innocent people,” she said. “We need you to be on the right side of history with the Iranian people. This regime will fall.”

“The wall of dictatorship is a thick wall. The revolution in South Africa took eight hundred days, we have only five months. The wall is an oppression, an attack on human rights. We need you all. We need Germany, France and Europe. We need you to be on the right side and admit it. Call it a revolution,” she said.

Finally, President Volodymyr Zelensky has become a habit at major cultural ceremonies, appearing on stage via satellite to introduce Sean Penn.

Payne is currently filming his documentary in Berlin superpowerwhich covered Payne’s trip to Kiev, his meeting with Zelensky, and highlighted the resilience of the Ukrainian people.

“A logical question arises: which side should culture and the arts be on?” Zelensky asked. “Can art be divorced from politics? Should film be divorced from politics?”

Zelensky thanked the Berlinale for choosing to ban ideas with Russian ties, before concluding that “culture and cinema can be divorced from politics, but not when it is a policy of aggression, mass crime, murder and terrorism.”

He added that the festival was “a showcase for the free world”.

Opening Duds and Encounters Gems

Now, onto the movie itself. We saved the best for last…

Admittedly, the Berlinale doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to opening films.

last year Peter von Kant The work of François Ozon is a huge disappointment; the 2020s my salinger year Worth watching because the Signourney Weaver is a national treasure to protect at all costs; and memories from 2019 the kindness of strangers Still have this critic’s temper burst into a million pieces of meat with excessive cringe.

And the list goes on… Sadly, writer-director Rebecca Miller’s marriage comedy will have its world premiere this year she came to me Won’t break a vulgar streak.

Starring Peter Dinklage, Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei, this “magical ode to free speech” (dixit Chatrian and co-festival director Mariette Rissenbeek) is anything but a total flop.

This utterly ridiculous (and not very good) romcom sees opera composer Steven (Dinklage) in creative dread. He has trouble concentrating, is uninspired and suffers from panic attacks. His wife (and a former therapist whom he continues to refer to as “the doctor”) schedules their sexy time and is obsessed with keeping everything in Marie Kondo spotless. She encourages her husband to go out for a walk and find inspiration in the lost. A fair suggestion, except that on his first forced outdoor trip, he meets exuberant tugboat captain Katrina (Marisa Tomei). She describes herself as obsessed with romance and will undo his relentless presence — for better or worse.

There’s no point in expanding on the film’s loose narrative because it’s all over the store. Ridiculously immature and convoluted subplots include a teenage romance that hits a snag in the form of a stepfather and Anne Hathaway’s tyrannical and Confederate cosplay lover who suddenly decides to quit her job to become a nun .

Inexplicably poor script, muddled tone, insulting mishandling of themes of addiction and creativity, and Miller’s clumsy direction (including some off-kilter aspect-ratio opportunities, absolutely nothing on a stylistic, storytelling or thematic level) doesn’t add anything) completely sinks the film – despite some heroic efforts by the cast. Marisa Tomei survived the train accident unscathed, and one of the utterly insane scenes is still memorable today, with a naked Hathaway screaming “KREPLAAAACH” to one of her clients ( A delicious duuuumpling) of the word.

It has to be seen to be understood. Even so, there’s no guarantee what Miller’s intentions are here.

There are some accidental disaster viewing pleasures, but that’s only at the expense of the film.As for the final scene, it elicited loud laughter and guffaws during the press screening, confirming that she came to me is the possible demise of romance, the doom of comedy and the final fatal blow to any hope that the Berlinale can arrange an opening film that won’t make critics seriously reconsider their career choices.

Thankfully, any existential or professional stuns were avoided, thanks to the Encounters sidebar section entry echoDirected by Mexican-Salvadorian director Tatiana Huezo.

Huezo’s last film at the Berlinale was in 2016 storm, a cleverly constructed film that examines the aftermath of organized crime in Mexico and what mothers sacrifice to protect the ones they love. It is no exaggeration to say that this is a masterpiece.

documentary filmmaker with echo. This particular Echo is the name of a remote mountain community in the Mexican state of Puebla. There, life is made of the most basic things. As the news report put it: “Being a child here has been an intense experience from day one, involving nature, animals and people. Love, intimacy, disease and death.”

Huezo constructs an intimate portrait of the tender and often harsh reality of an isolated community through three generations of women. We observe matriarchy and intergenerational responsibilities, whether or not these burdens of life are prematurely relinquished.

Beautiful shots by cinematographer Ernesto Pardo – who also shot storm And in a charming way in this film captures hands of all ages – one of echo The standout element is the increasingly ominous soundscape from Leonardo Highbloom and Jacob Lieberman; , while there may be shared joys, there are hardships lurking, nature can be cruel, and communities are doomed to fracture.

suitable words cannot fully summarize the echoNot only does it recapture the elegiac appeal and poetic power of Huezo’s previous films, but it immerses the audience in a captivating mosaic that won’t be hasty to forget.

Stay tuned to Euronews Culture for more updates from this year’s Berlinale.

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