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Berlinale 2012: The S&S blog

Introduction: I am just going outside…

The Great White Silence

S&S’s Berlin blog team gear up

Nick James, 9 February

Welcome to our rolling commentary on the 2012 Berlinale film festival. I’m writing this in London after a trip to M&S and Uniqlo for extra thermals, having heard that Berlin’s weather prospect is of –16℃ at night. I arrive there (I hope) tomorrow, and want to discourage in these entries an ongoing theme of how cold it will be by getting my blow in first. What warms me is the thought that this year’s is somewhat of a mystery Berlinale. Beyond a handful of obvious attractions, it’s hard to determine in advance what kind of festival we’re going to get.

As usual UK audiences will already be familiar with some of Berlin’s headline films, such as Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, Jason Reitman’s Young Adult and Phiyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady. Alongside these we have the obvious public interest in the Angelina Jolie-directed, Serbian-set Balkan war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, and in the very title of Billy Bob Thornton’s Sundance attraction Jayne Mansfield’s Car. To these you might get immediate attention for Kevin Macdonald’s Marley, his biopic of the reggae legend Bob Marley, and maybe Side By Side, the documentary in which Keanu Reeves interviews all sorts of film folks about the effects and successes of digital tech.

At the level of our own core readership there will be excitement about Guy Maddin’s new haunted house movie Keyhole, the return of the Taviani brothers with Caesar Must Die (about a prison production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar), Brillante Mendoza’s portrayal of kidnapped tourists and missionaries Captive, Christian Petzold’s new cold war portrait Barbara, Tsui Hark’s Flying Swords at Dragon Gate (which I hope does what we expect it to), and the full complement of Werner Herzog’s Death Row films (which Jonathan Romney should be seeing as I write this). As well as these, the film I’m most excited about is Miguel Gomes’s Tabu, which I’ll leave, for the moment, unforetold.

Yet these semi-known quantities are not the only thing that fuels one through the sub-zero streets. (Whoops, sorry.) I always give myself quick reference notes for those films about which I know nothing beyond the press notes. Phrases like “self-reflexive about Filipino film clichés” or “sounds like Le Havre meets Cape Fear” are designed to entice one into the unknown. Let’s hope some lead to real discoveries this year.

The grim Werner: Herzog does Death Row »

See also

The Iron Lady reviewed by Philip Kemp (February 2012)

Allonsanfàn remembered by Michael Brooke (July 2011)

Our Beloved Month of August reviewed by Jonathan Romney (February 2010)

My Winnipeg reviewed by Ryan Gilbey (July 2008)

Berlinale special (April 2008)

Romeo Must Die reviewed by Ken Hollings (November 2000)

Last Updated: 10 Feb 2012