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This week at the kino: Can Tenet save moviegoing?

The most important film of the year has arrived, but it’s unclear what it will mean for Berlin cinemas. Plus: everything you need to know about film festival season.

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With a budget of over 0 million, Tenet is arguably the most important film of the year. Photo: Warner Bros

The moment’s finally come. After repeated delays, Christopher Nolan’s latest noodlebaker is out. In many ways, Tenet is the most important film of 2020, considering it’s the first Hollywood blockbuster to be released in cinemas since lockdown. But can the eagerly anticipated film save the moviegoing experience, and is it any good? Find out by reading our review.

The release schedule and people’s attention spans will be lionised by Tenet this week (and the coming weeks), but there are two excellent alternatives deserving of your attention, especially if you’re not in the mood for a high-concept mindmelter. They hail from two different countries – Iran and China, respectively. The first is Yalda (Yalda, La Nuit Du Pardon), a tense and Black Mirror-echoing social commentary from Iranian writer-director Massoud Bakhshi that has its pitfalls but crucially lingers in the mind long after the end credits have rolled. The second, The Wild Goose Lake, is Yi’nan Diao’s follow-up to his Berlinale-winning Black Coal, Thin Ice. It’s an absorbing neo-noir crime thriller that is well worth your time. Lastly, make sure to check out Marco Bellocchio’s latest film, Il Traditore, which is getting rave reviews and screening in several kinos around the city with English subs. 

Outside of general releases, festival season is soon upon us and begins to coincide with the winding down of open-air cinema season. Indeed, the coming month sees a veritable avalanche of film festivals making up for lost time. Some festival favourites are not chancing it: The Down Under Film Festival and the Favourites Film Festival have both thrown in the towel for their September editions, with the latter stating that they are postponing to September 2021. Still, a great many have chosen to take place under the terms of the ongoing pandemic and the first is Polish Film Festival (27/08 – 02/09), which opens with the outdoor screening of Corpus Christi tonight at Freiluftkino Kreuzberg (9.15pm, with German subs). It premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival and is a terrific drama about a reformed criminal who is prevented from applying to the seminary after his release; he decides to dress as a priest and ministers a small-town parish. FilmPolska have also programmed their night of shorts at Freiluftkino Cassiopeia on Wednesday 2nd (8pm, with English subs), which is worth checking out.

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You Will Die At Twenty opens the ALFILM Festival on September 1st. Photo: Hakka Distribution

One of Berlin’s most smartly programmed region-specific festivals, ALFILM (01-29/09 at Arsenal and City Kino Wedding) also kicks off soon. Five months after its intended opening, the 11th Arab Film Festival returns to Berlin as a condensed “Nomad Edition”. Considering the safety parameters – and like the FilmPolska – the festival has shrewdly elected to utilise an outdoor option for it’s opening night, with the Sudanese film You Will Die At Twenty screening at Freiluftkino Kreuzberg on the 1st (9.15pm, also with German subs). Based on a short story by Hammour Ziada, Amjad Abu Alala’s debut sees a dervish predict that a mother’s newborn son will die at the age of…you guessed it. Keep your eyes peeled for our full festival preview, out tomorrow.

There’s also Queerfilmfest (02-09/09, opening with Teddy Winner Futur Drei on the 2nd), who have decided that their festival belongs in the cinema: they’re showing the majority of the programme exclusively on the big screen, stating that they believe “that going to the cinema together is a unique experience that is more important than ever for us and the films.” Like many festivals, they’re foregoing the usual personal introductions and live conversations with the filmmakers, highlighting instead exclusive content online, like their retrospective section, interviews, and panels with directors.

As for Freiluftkino must-sees, here are our picks.

Tonight is the premiere of HipBeat – Love Is Revolution at Zukunft / Freiluftkino Pompeji (9pm), followed by a Q&A and afterparty. Written, directed by and starring Samuel Kay Forrest, HipBeat is an empowering and compassionate debut that follows a young man searching for his identity in Berlin, a journey of self-discovery that takes him from anarchy to embracing love within the LGBTQ+ community, with the help of an encounter with a drag queen. It’s both a love story and a valentine to Berlin, one that questions the status quo and encourages inclusivity and equality in a disarmingly sincere way. We caught up with Samuel Kay Forrest to talk about his debut, which will also screen at Freiluftkino Pompeji on the 3rd and 10th September (both at 9pm). Make sure to check it out.

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HipBeat is a new film about a young man trying to find himself in Berlin. Photo: Castle Matrix Productions

On Saturday 29th is Mobile Kino’s screening of Bacurau at Alte Münze (8.30pm, with English subs). We previously waxed lyrical about the merits of Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles’ “weird Western”, a Brazilian must-see that won the coveted Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes and never got a theatrical release in Germany – it sadly went straight to streaming in the wake of COVID. So here’s your chance to catch it on a screen fitting of its grandeur. If that doesn’t sound like your bag, The Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski is screening that same night at Sommerkino at 8.45pm. It’s a joy to see it on a big screen once more, and the film has become oddly timely considering the constant nuisance that is President Augustus Gloop – so, all together now: “Shut the fuck up, Donny!”

There’s a Ridley Scott Night on Sunday at Freiluftkino Cassiopeia, with the screening of Alien at 8pm, and we strongly recommend you head to the aforementioned opening of the Arabic Film Festival on Tuesday for the screening of You Will Die At Twenty at Freiluftkino Kreuzberg, provided your German is good enough for subs. Alternatively, Arsenal are screening a 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey, also on Tuesday, at 8pm (with a repeat screening on the 19th). Lastly, you could do a lot worse than to head to Mobile Kino’s Wednesday showing of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction at Alte Münze (8.15pm) for a solid hit of ’90s nostalgia.

That’s it from us this week. We’re off to the Venice Film Festival next week, so keep an eye out for exclusive news and reviews, and This Week At The Kino will be back next week for more reviews and Berlin festival roundups. Happy screenings and keep wearing your masks.