Primarily for our friends in Berlin, or those visiting Berlin between February 6 and February 16: At around 400 films shown and almost 500,000 tickets sold, the Berlinale- Berlin International Film Festival is the world’s largest public film festival. With the festival beginning in a handful of days, sifting through 400 films and finding those handful to watch can be daunting and exhausting. Let us help. 🙂 While you may have been patiently waiting to finally watch Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘ (we certainly have), it might make little sense to waste the opportunity of watching lesser known gems of movies for ones that will anyway hit the theaters in a few weeks or months. Unless of course, you like knowing you’ve been acquainted with Gustave H and Zero Moustafa before everyone else. If not, read on for films that caught our attention.
1. Nayak / The Hero (1966)
One of Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s masterpieces, Nayak was first shown in Berlin in 1966. Now as a recently restored digital print, the film returns as part of Berlinale Classics. The plot, as on Satyajitray.org: “A famous film actor Arindam, a star of Bengali films, has been invited to the capital to receive a prestigious award. As all the flights are booked, he is forced to travel by a train from Calcutta to New Delhi. He is in a foul mood as the morning’s papers are filled with his being involved in an altercation and his latest film is slated to become his first flop.In the restaurant car, he meets Aditi, a young journalist who edits a serious women’s magazines. Filled with contempt for the likes of him, she secretly plans to interview him because she thinks it would make a saleable ‘copy’. It soon leads to him pouring out his life history. Aditi takes notes, surreptitiously. Critical of the star, she interrogates him and the star ends up re-examining his life. In a series of conversations with Aditi, he reveals his past and guilt.”
2. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)
This film, showing as part of the festival’s Panorama feature, is for everyone who loves street photography and/or flea market hunting! When Chicago resident John Maloof stumbled upon a collection of obscure street photographs in the form of a box of undeveloped 700 film rolls and 100,000 negatives, little did he know he had discovered a treasure trove of art. The photographs, reminiscent of street photographers such as Robert Frank and Helen Levitt turned out to be the film chronicles of Ms. Vivian Maier, a Chicago nanny. The film traces the life of Ms. Meier, who died alone in 2009. Want to know more? Head here.
3. 52 Tuesdays (2013)
Winner of a Directing Award (World Conema Dramatic) at the Sundance Film Festival, the film revolves around 16 year old Billie, whose mother decides to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Billie lives with her father while meeting her mother ‘James’ every Tuesday. There’s plenty going on in Billie’s own life, too.
4. La belle et la bête / Beauty and the Beast (1946)
Part of the retrospective ‘Aesthetics of Shadow‘, the film is the French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s sublime adaptation of the famous fairy tale . If you’re as enchanted by the black & white magic as we are, this film among the others in this retrospective such as the Finnish Boheemielämää, the German Dirnentragödie or the American The Docks of New York might be all that you need to watch at the Festival this year.