Berlin Film Festival: Day 2 – The Film Premiere

Posted 22 February 2018

Science Fair

In the morning, I headed down to the Berlinale Palast, where the big press screenings are held. For these there’s a bit of queuing involved as you wait for the press to take their seats and for what’s remaining to get dished out to those who’ve waited.queue Inside the theatre is breath-taking, but I didn’t get much time to look around as I sprinted up what felt like a thousand steps to the last seats at the top. Today was the turn of ‘The Heiresses’, a stunning debut from Paraguay by Marcelo Martinessi. It’s an intimate and tender film about a couple, Chela and Chiquita - once part of the elite - who have fallen on hard times and are facing the impending imprisonment of Chiquita, who’s been convicted of fraud. ‘The Heiresses’ elegantly works through sexuality, class, freedom and restriction with a cast of non-professional actors: Ana Brun is spectacular as Chela, and my heart aches at the memory of her eyes.

Moving over to documentaries, I headed over once again to CinemaxX to catch a screening of ‘Science Fair’, which follows a group of incredibly talented young people competing to at the world’s biggest science fair The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). The achievements of these people are unspeakably impressive, many of them taking inspiration from the issues they’ve faced in their own lives and seen from around the world. It’s a funny, engaging and inspiring doc that I would love to bring to students in Sheffield.

With no festival screening tickets until ‘Black 47’ in the evening and eager to watch more films, ‘Indian Horse’ was another title I’d been interested in seeing: an adaption from Canada of the late Richard Wagamese‘s book of the same name. It centres on a First Nations boy called Saul who, after being separated from his family, is sent to an Indian residential school and when there tries to find escape from the horrors through his talent for ice hockey. It’s told through flashbacks to the 1970s as the present-day adult Saul shares his story with a First Nations support group, detailing the racism and violence he and other children endured after being taken from their parents. The subject matter is well-handled, and the transitions between young to adult Saul are impressive. That said, the film packs a lot into its 100-minute runtime, which means some of the subtleties of performance are lost among big, punchy plot twists. 

Next up was ‘Marilyn’, from Argentine director Martin Rodriguez Redondo. This was very high up on my list of films to watch and absolutely knocked me sideways. Taking place on a farm in rural Argentina, Marcos is a teenager who finds more peace in colourful fabrics and make-up than milking cows and herding cattle. ‘Marilyn’ has extended scenes of the most uplifting and beautiful self-discovery and expression, matched by moments of brutal trauma that make this an impressive debut that will stay with me for a while.

I had a little bit of time before my last film of the day, so met up with my cousin, some colleagues and new acquaintances, and went along to a drinks reception for Creative Scotland (the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across Scotland). I met some people from EYE in Amsterdam and we talked about their incredible EXPOSED community for young culture lovers. I didn’t have too much time to chat as I was soon back off to Berlinale Palast for my last film of the day…

‘Black 47’ was my first experience of a film premiere and I feel I must confess to getting a bit giddy at the sight of Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent. premiereThe buzz around Berlinale Palast is incredible, with the bright lights and the never-ending red carpet that fills the building giving it a whole different feeling to any other screening I’ve been to. ‘Black 47’ is set in Ireland during 1847, the deadliest year of the Famine, and follows an Irish soldier who has deserted his post to return home. What he finds sends him on a new mission for revenge at the devastating effects of British colonialism. There’s a commendable commitment from director Lance Daly to using Irish Gaelic and the lead performance from James Frecheville is impressive as he burns with an unceasing rage at the unimaginable scale of suffering. There are some moments that are too polished and as such are at odds with the setting and the plot goes exactly where you think it’s going to…but seeing stories like this on screen is so important and I’m sure it will pave the way for more.

Another packed day today – another packed day tomorrow!

Linnea Pettersson

Linnea Pettersson

Programming Assistant Read more posts by Linnea Pettersson


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