With record 230,000 admissions, Berlinale has something for all

Movies with vivid themes and plots are being showcased this year

Berlinale is the biggest box office film festival in the world, with the last year’s record of 230,000 admissions. Long lines of people, young and old, waiting patiently in front of the several Berlinale ticket counters set up inside the shopping arcade ARKADEN adjoining the Berlinale Palast to buy the tickets for the screenings of their choice has been a heartwarming experience. They discuss among themselves the various films on offer excitedly.

On the other side, the European Film Market at the historic Martin Gropius Bau (MGB), Marriott and Ritz Carlton has been witnessing a great buzz. One has to wait for long for a vacant chair or sofa in the hotel lobbies or at the cafeteria of these venues. And the sales agents’ stands are chock-a-bloc with meetings. One of my sales agent friends, in the midst of her meeting suggested that we could have a cup of coffee on February 15, the last day of the market, before she rushes to catch her flight to Paris.

The competition screenings started with an auspicious note with the Polish film “In the Name of…” directed by Malgoska Szumowska. This reminded me of the first frame of all the Iranian films starting with the invocation “In the Name of God”. But this brave film deals with the loneliness of the priest, his yearning for love. Father Adam is a very compassionate and hardworking priest. He organises a community centre for boys, a bunch of juvenile delinquents, with troubled past. But one boy is attracted to the priest. And Father Adam’s forgotten passion returns to haunt him. The long runs to tame the wandering mind and the burning body fail to be a penance. The director said that the film is not against the church, but a study of a man’s yearning for love, affection and closeness. She said that the subject matter is very complicated and would sound scandalous if not handled properly. She worked on the film for more than two years to make this simple, sensuous and delicate film. “Is it a gay movie -- rather Priest Gay Movie?” The director would not want the film to be branded, either black or white.

Acclaimed American director Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski is also co-scripted by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, with Matt Damon tripling as the producer as well. The film, which Matt Damon accepted has not been received well at the box office, deals with the acquisition of agricultural land by companies by means fair and foul. The film portrays how these companies play both the villain and hero in order to deprive the simple folk of their land. Matt Damon said that the film is about the American identity, in which all important issues are discussed by the community and decisions are arrived at. “It is a relatable story with characters we all can recognise as people we know” he said. “It is an emotional story about what happens when real people and real money collide”, added John Krasinski. The well intentioned film with celebrity talents in all departments never leads to a knot in throat.

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