The 41th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) will screen eight film awarded at the Berlinale 2017.
Golden Bear Award for Best Film
On Body and Soul (Teströl és lélekröl) by Ildikó Enyedi – Hungary | 2017 – 118 min.
A slaughterhouse in Budapest is the setting of a strangely beautiful love story. No sooner does Mária start work as the new quality controller than the whispers begin. At lunch the young woman always chooses a table on her own in the sterile canteen where she sits in silence. She takes her job seriously and adheres strictly to the rules, deducting penalty points for every excessive ounce of fat. Hers is a world that consists of figures and data that have imprinted themselves on her memory since early childhood. Her slightly older boss Endre is also the quiet type. Tentatively, they begin to get to know each other. Recognising their spiritual kinship, they are amazed to discover that they even have the same dreams at night. Carefully, they attempt to make them come true. This story of two people discovering the realm of emotions and physical desire, at first individually and then together, is tenderly told by director Ildikó Enyedi, but in a way that also exudes subtle humour. A film about the fears and inhibitions associated with opening up to others, and about how exhilarating it can be when you finally do. (Berlinale 2017 Catalogue)
Silver Bear Award for Best Film
Spoor (Pokot) by Agnieszka Holland – Poland | 2017 – 128 min.
Retired civil engineer Duszejko lives a secluded life in a mountain village close to the border between Poland and the Czech Republic. She is charismatic and eccentric, a passionate astrologer and a strict vegetarian. One day her beloved dogs disappear. On a snowy winter’s night shortly afterwards she discovers the dead body of her neighbour and, next to it, deer tracks. More men die in a similarly mysterious way. All of them were pillars of the village community, and all were passionate hunters. Were these men killed by wild animals? Or has someone been provoked to pursue a bloody vendetta? At some point Duszejko herself comes under suspicion …
After her foray into the realm of serialised drama, Agnieszka Holland returns to the big screen with a subversive thriller. Pokot is set in a landscape of changing seasons; however, the wild beauty of the countryside cannot hide the corrupt nature, cruelty and stupidity of the people who live there. Deeply rooted in the reality of rural Poland, the film is as anarchic as its heroine, and boldly mixes genres – from humorous detective story to exciting eco-thriller to feminist fairy-tale. (Berlinale 2017 Catalogue)
Silver Bear Award for Best Actor (Georg Friedrich)
Bright Nights (Helle Nächte) by Thomas Arslan – Germany, Norway | 2017 – 86 min.
Austrian civil engineer Michael lives with his girlfriend in Berlin. For years, he has barely had any contact with his 14-year-old son Luis. When Michael’s father dies the two nonetheless travel together to the funeral which is held in the remote north of Norway. At the deceased’s secluded home Michael begins to pack up his late father’s personal items – watched in silence by his son. Two people who barely know each other are suddenly caught in an intimate situation. After the funeral, Michael surprises Luis by suggesting that they spend a few days together exploring the region. A road movie begins that is also a journey into their non-existent shared past. Being together turns out to be more difficult than expected. Never having spent any time with each other on a daily basis, they have trouble handling their relationship. Whilst Michael glosses over this situation, Luis can’t hide how hurt he is. His father’s long years of absence stand between them like a wall. When they are in the car together it feels like the calm before a storm. During the long days of the summer solstice, days when the sun never sets, Michael tries to break the repetitive cycle and find a joint way forward. (Berlinale 2017 Catalogue)
Silver Bear Award for Best Editing
Ana, Mon Amour by Calin Peter Netzer – Romania, Germany, France | 2016 – 127 min.
Toma and Ana meet at university. A love affair begins that is full of hopes and dreams and suffused by the feeling that each needs the other in equal measure. Ana has a complicated family background and suffers from severe panic attacks. Middle-class Toma is as shocked as he is fascinated by the deep well of despair he encounters in his beloved. Toma gives Ana his complete support and takes her to see a string of doctors. At the same time the two begin to isolate themselves from their families and friends. Ana’s weakness appears to make Toma stronger.
When she falls pregnant, Ana embarks on a therapy based on analytical psychoanalysis from which she emerges a stronger person. But then Toma’s world begins to topple … Călin Peter Netzer’s film blends romantic drama with a study of mental illness and how it is overcome. Unfolding like a complex puzzle structured around Toma’s psychoanalytical sessions, the narrative plunges into the past in a series of sustained flashbacks. Scenes from a complex marriage that reveal numerous connections to the repressed depths and taboos of Romanian society. (Berlinale 2017 Catalogue)
Trailer (No English subtitle)
Panorama Audience Award
I Am Not Your Negro by Raoul Peck – France, USA, Belgium, Switzerland | 2016 – 93 min.
In June 1979 renowned US writer James Baldwin began work on his last, unfinished text ‘Remember this House’. His personal memories of his three murdered civil rights friends Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King and his reflections on his own painful experiences as a black American serve to re-write American history.
Raoul Peck has turned these thirty hitherto unpublished pages into a powerful collage of archive photographs, excerpts from films and newsreel footage: the boycotts and the resistance against racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s, the invisibility of black Americans in Hollywood’s legendary works, the Afro-American protests against white police brutality that continue to take place even today, Baldwin’s complex relationship with the Black Power Movement and one FBI report’s paranoid view of Baldwin’s homosexuality. A trenchant and disturbing essay about the reality of the lives of African Americans – lives that are still largely ignored by America’s mainstream. Samuel L Jackson’s voice lends Baldwin’s poetic, meditative language suitable expression. (Berlinale 2017 Catalogue)
Caligari Film Prize
El mar la mar by Joshua Bonneta & J.P. Sniadecki – USA | 2017 – 94 min.
The sun beats down mercilessly on all those who cross the Sonoran Desert between Mexico and the United States. Aside from the few people who live here, it’s the poorest of undocumented immigrants that make the crossing, who have no choice but to take this extremely dangerous route, followed by border guards both official and self-appointed. The horizon seems endlessly far away and deadly dangers lurk everywhere. It’s best to move under the cover of darkness; during the day, being exposed to the heat and sun is enough to make animals and humans perish. Their traces and remains accumulate, fade, decompose and become inscribed into the topography of the landscape, making the absent ever-present as life and death, beauty and dread, hostile light and nights aglitter with stars and promise all continue to exist alongside one another.
El mar la mar masterfully weaves together sublime 16-mm shots of nature and weather phenomena, animals, people and the tracks they leave behind with a polyphonic soundtrack, creating a cinematographic exploration of the desert habitat, a multi-faceted panorama of a highly politicised stretch of land, a film poem that conjures up the ocean. (Berlinale 2017 Catalogue)
Amnesty International Film Prize
Devil’s Freedom (La libertad del diablo) by Everardo González – Mexico | 2017 – 74 min.
In the past five years the battle against drug crime in Mexico has claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 people. If one were to count the children, wives and husbands, parents and friends of the deceased then the figure increases to around 400,000 victims. But statistics remain abstract and the terrible news with which Mexico begins each new day has long since become a part of everyday life. This film looks into the stories behind the numbers and headlines. The faces of the interviewees are hidden in order to preserve their anonymity. All of them are wearing masks so that we cannot see their emotions, but we sense them all the more. Victims and perpetrators are able to take their time to express themselves in front of Everardo González’s patient camera. Time and again the moment arrives when they become fully aware of their emotions and yield to their pain, or face up to the barbarity of the crimes they have committed. Their detailed, shocking testimonials are interspersed with episodes from everyday life. In this way, a portrait of a society emerges that is governed by fear and deep insecurity.
CICAE Art Cinema Award
Newton by Amit V. Masurkar – India | 2017 – 106 min.
Newton is a stickler for principles – whether with respect to his unusual name or the not entirely orthodox way in which his arranged marriage has been handled. But because he doesn’t immediately come across as a nit-picker, he’s given the job of volunteer election worker and entrusted with a mission that demands the utmost flexibility if it’s to succeed. Newton is flown by helicopter into the jungle. The village where he’s to make sure that the election is carried out properly turns out to be a democratic stress-centre, where he must keep devious military personnel and oddball bureaucrats in check – even as the voters, the very people the whole thing is about, remain strangely absent. The Adivasi – as the indigenous people of India are called – are wise to keep their distance from this staged spectacle of democracy and put up resistance with a cunning game of hide-and-seek. Newton remains true to his principles. When a foreign election monitor arrives, the tide turns in his favour – but only temporarily.
With a feel for the special, multifaceted humour of his compatriots, Amit Masurkar succeeds in making Newton into a black comedy about the pale spectre of democracy in dark times.
To know more about this festival please go to the Festival Profile or to the Official Website.