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Let’s get critical

Running alongside the Berlinale, Berlin Critics’ Week (Feb 8-16) brings critics and cinephiles together for film screenings (Hackesche Höfe) and lively debates (Silent Green).

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Aroused by Gymnopedies

Running alongside the Berlinale, Berlin Critics’ Week brings critics and cinephiles together for film screenings and lively debates.

The conference that kicks off the third edition of Berlin’s Critics’ Week, “Lost in Politics”, couldn’t be more timely. From Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-bagging I, Daniel Blake to Gianfranco Rosi’s Golden Bear winner Fuocoammare, European filmmakers are taking it upon themselves to address pressing political issues. But do great films have to be political? Are the messages overshadowing the art? These questions and more will be discussed at Silent Green (Feb 8, 20:00) by guests including Greek director and producer Athina Rachel Tsangari (Chevalier) and Joachim Lepastier of Les Cahiers du Cinéma.

This year, the German Critics’ Association has put together a film selection that spans the globe, from Isao Yukisada’s softcore porn Aroused by Gymnopedies; to Germany’s Lass den Sommer nie wieder kommen, a three-hour-plus experimental piece by DFFB alum Alexandre Koberitze which will spark debates (and probably a few walk-outs). A screening of Rebecca Zlotowski’s Venice-premiered Planetarium, a pre-war French-Belgian drama starring Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp offspring Lily-Rose that received mixed reviews on initial release, invites us to reevaluate the film as an exercise in subjective perspective, with the clairvoyant main protagonist finding more and more of herself as she gives herself up to those around her. The programme also includes Argentinian docu-hybrid El Auge del Humano, a critical darling from last Locarno festival that sees director Eduardo Williams’ camera follow three characters in Argentina, Mozambique and the Philippines, challenging the viewer by shifting perspectives and leaving us to puzzle over his intentions linked to the globalising influence of all things digital.

Livelier and far less confounding is Abba Makama’s Green White Green (And All The Beautiful Colours In My Mosaic Of Madness). Channelling early Spike Lee joints, Makama uses the story of four artist friends who decide to make a movie as a springboard to comically tackle Nigeria’s complex identity, as well as sink his satirical teeth into Nollywood and how Western pop culture has seeped into African traditions. No small feat and a mosaic well worth checking out. 

Berlin Critics’ Week Feb 8-16 | Screenings at Hackesche Höfe Kino, Mitte