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The best films and debates at Critics’ Week

A stellar online selection of movies, talks and panels will be available to all between February 27 and March 7. Our film editor runs through the highlights.

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The post-modern, meta-textual comedy Red Post on Escher Street is one of the programme’s most best entries this year. Photo: Critics’ Week

Woche der Kritik is set to once again return, seperate but parallel to the Berlinale. It will deliver an alternative and streamlined programme of films and debates, focusing on a variety of issues that mainstream festivals so frequently sideline, including the political dimensions inherent to the cinema industry, whether art can be autonomous and free from systems, and the topical issue of the future of cinema amid a pandemic. This year’s seventh edition takes place digitally, offering a programme that goes online via stream across Germany from Feb 27 to March 7, with live daily debates taking place online from March 1 to 7.

We recommend you don’t skip the debates this year, especially since the festival has teamed up with the Mumbai Film Festival and the Courtisane Festival from Belgium. Both will partake in talks about curatorial lines, how to programme and the curation blind-spots that tend to rear their heads every year. The opening, two-part conference (February 27 & 28) will touch upon the subject of consistency and “consistent action, inconsistent cinema”, exploring the concept in relation to both aesthetics and its political dimension.

The ‘Of Searching And Finding The Cinema’ debate is especially interesting. It’s linked to two films: An Unusual Summer, by acclaimed Palestinian director Kamal Aljafari, and Horse Tail, by Indian filmmaker Manoj Leonel Jahson. The first sees Aljafari bring his poetic glance to a documentary mixed with a detective film, one that offers a window into the Arab quarter in the city of Ramla, whose population is predominantly Jewish.

The second sees a man wake up with… you guessed it… a horse tail. The protagonist searches for an explanation, looking to psychology and mathematics for eventual answers as to his concerning new condition. Also, keep an eye out for the closing segment, featuring the ‘Art Language’ debate, with the World premiere of Caroline Pitzen’s politically charged Leisure or: The Opposite of Doing Nothing and the International premiere of the fantastic A Museum Sleeps, the debut film by French director, photograph and assistant cameraperson Camille de Chenay, who has worked with renowned cinematographers and alongside some big names like Michael Haneke, Terrence Malick and Leos Carax.

Elsewhere, the new film by Japanese provocateur Sion Sono, Red Post on Escher Street, is one of the programme’s most best entries this year, a postmodern, frequently meta-textual comedy that touches upon madness and escaping society, as well as functioning as an electric ode to movie extras. It is brilliantly coupled with the World premiere of Olivier Godin’s absurdist new short film Dracula Sex Tape. The Canadian filmmaker was a guest at Critics’ Week in 2018 with his film Waiting For April, and here shows once again that he’s a sure-thing when it comes to contemporary comic cinema. Both films are top picks for this year’s edition.

The films are available from February 27 to the March 7. Check out the full programme here, and don’t miss out on expanding your critical gaze while you wait for kinos to reopen by nabbing a few tickets for this excellent selection of films and talks.

Woche der Kritik (Critics’ Week) / online. Feb 27-Mar 7.