Berlinale Unbound, Festival reports and videos by James Ulmer


CWB’s International Editor James Ulmer recently returned from the 58th Berlin International Film Festival, where he filed his exclusive series of
Berlinale Unbound columns and on-the-scene videos. Missed the original reports? Click here to view James’ complete column and video coverage of Berlinale 2008, from The Rolling Stones’ arrival to a movie from Absurdistan.
Belinale Reports was partly sponsored by Atlantic Travel (Travel ATT)

Berlinale Unbound, Market Animals Part 1 (Watch  Video)
BERLIN, Feb. 13 — Angela Hawkins calls it like she sees it, and on a good day she sees the European Film Market as the rough equivalent of a human zoo. While visiting the Market one afternoon, we found this delightful inhabitant tending to her “cage,” as she fondly dubs German Film Service + Marketing stand. We asked her opinion of which recent German movies might be able survive the Darwinian jungle of a U.S. theatrical release.
“I just saw Doris Dörrie’s Kirschblüten (Cherry Blossoms), which I think would do very well in the American market, at least I hope it would do well,” Hawkins offers. “Of course, its very difficult for all foreign language films to catch on to an audience in the United States…and dubbing just doesn’t go over well there.”

Berlinale Unbound: Market Animals Part 2 (Watch Video)

Visiting the European Film Market is a bit like going out for pot luck in the neighborhood: you never who or precisely what you’ll encounter, you just pray the food is edible and the diners are bearable. Like any market, this one has its fair share of unappetizing and half-baked movies among the over 400 offerings here. But there’s always good stuff too, for those bothering to play hooky from the festival and head down the street to the Market’s grandiose three-story home, past the gold line in the sidewalk that marks the site of the old Berlin Wall.

Berlinale Unbound, Gala Glitters in the Shadow of Berlin’s Wall (Watch Video)
BERLIN — For the past five years the Cinema for Peace celebrity gala has been one of the city’s hottest annual events, a fusion of film, fund raising and philanthropy that lures over 400 notables to honor films and individuals who create “a platform for peace and tolerance.”
The grand tradition continued Monday night (Feb. 11) with the red-carpet welcome of luminaries such as Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Bob Geldof, Hillary Swank, Joseph Fiennes, Catherine Deneuve, Garry Kasparov and Russian opera star Anna Netrebko. Tuxed and gowned, they all mounted the monumental marble steps of Berlin’s domed Konzerthaus, which was doused in klieg lights and situated – appropriately, considering the night’s theme — in the long-gone shadow of the Berlin Wall.

ERLINALE UNBOUIND: A Tango and those Bolly-Jolly Berliners (Watch Video)
BERLIN, Feb. 10 — You would think all the cheers and stomping and paparazzi pandering at yesterday’s Berlinale press conference was for Daniel Day Lewis or another export from Hollywood, but in fact it was for Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. With a fan club that clearly extends beyond Indian shores, Khan was in town to promote his mega-budget musical Om Shanti Om, directed by top Bollywood choreographer Farah Khan and billed as the most expensive Indian production ever made. It’s a candy-colored, adrenolin-injected and gloriously over-the-top tribute to the memory of 1970s Bollywood sari musicals, starring Khan as wannabe young actor named Om who dreams of stardom and the love of a Bollywood screen goddess. He gets them both, of course, but not before the entire inventory of Bollywood’s wardrobe and set departments, not to mention busloads of musical hoofers, have shamelessly expended themselves in telling his lavish tale.

Berlinale Unbound, NO COUNTRY FOR HORNDOG MEN (Watch Video)
BERLIN, Feb. 11 — It’s hard to resist the tickle of a good movie title, no matter how the movie itself stacks up. Such was my take on Absurdistan, a comedy screening at the Berlinale’s European Film Market which, absurdly enough, I didn’t manage to see despite the lure of its logline: Two childhood sweethearts in a village in Central Asia find their first night of love threatened when the local women go on a sex strike after the men refuse to attend to the town’s water shortage. Think Lysistrata comes to Borat-ville.

Berlinale Unbound, Feb 9, Maria Schrader interview (Watch Video)
She may be relatively unknown in America, but Maria Schrader can excite the paparazzi in Berlin. When we cornered her at the party for the film company X in Berlin, people couldn’t stop dropping by to talk about her new film released in Germany last November, Liebesleben (Love Life), which she wrote and directed and which unspools is here at the Berlinale as part of the German Cinema section.

Berlinale Unbound, , Feb. 8 (Watch Video)
BERLIN (Feb. 8) – Despite a bitter chill in Berlin, crowds here at the opening night of 58th Berlinale warmed up quickly when all four of the Rolling Stones arrived on the red carpet for the world premiere of Martin Scorcese-directed concert feature “Shine A Light..” Keith Richards bounded out of the limo first, followed by Ron Woods and drummer Charlie Watts. Finally, a huge roar from the crowd met Jagger when he jumped out sporting a long wool scarf and started hobnobbing with a long lineup of TV microphones stuck in his face. And there was Scorcese, darting around in front of them signing autographs.


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