Berlin Film Festival: Day 4 - From 0 – Anarchist Cookbook in 5 minutes

Posted 7 March 2018

real estate

Today I found myself popping in and out of screenings all day to make up for not seeing as many yesterday. One of the first films I saw was the Japanese existential mystery ‘Our House’, by Yui Kiyohara (a student of Kiyoshi Kurosawa), where two different stories are happening in the same house without appearing to exist in the same reality. There’s some innovative camerawork when it comes to delivering an unsettling atmosphere, peppered with the occasional light jump-scare to keep you on your toes. The film isn’t a straight-up horror and there’s no concrete plot or journey the characters go on, it studies isolation and relationships…but doesn’t offer up any answers. An exciting, if un-polished work from a bold young Japanese female director who I’ll look forward to seeing more of!

After finding myself in the wrong cinema and watching an agonising 15 minutes of a stop-motion film (that I might have enjoyed had I not been in the mood for something… good), I ended up in a screening of Australian documentary 'The Song Keepers', which follows the Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir on their first ever tour at churches across Germany. The women (and there are a couple of men in there!) are wonderful to watch and listen to them singing traditional German hymns in the Pitjantjatjara and Arrarnta languages.

Another highlight was ‘Djamilia’ by Aminatou Echard. Shot completely on super-8 film, Echard then recorded conversations with women from Kyrgyzstan where they talk about their responses to Chingiz Aitmatov’s novel Jamila, about a young, strong-willed woman who breaks off an arranged marriage and elopes with her lover. It’s a film about the world of women in a place where the kinds of conversations Echard manages to have are not typically permitted, but by using the fictional character of Jamila as a starting point, the director is able to tease out more about their opinions on politics and society. The slow pace of the film will be off-putting to some but the ideas behind it and the women involved are inspiring.

The final film of the day was one I have been looking forward to for so, so long. ‘The Real Estate’ is a collaboration between Swedish directors Axel Petersén and Måns Månsson about 60-something Nojet who inherits an apartment building in Stockholm after her father’s death. What should be a nice little earner for Nojet reveals itself to be a run-down block of total chaos, with most of the tenants without any sort of legitimate contract to live there. It’s a deliberately ugly film about an ugly subject (the state of the Swedish housing market), with not just the camera rarely giving us space to breathe – full of tight close-ups and grotesque angles - but the soundtrack too, which delights in pummelling the eardrums with bursts of heavy techno every now and again. Léonore Ekstrand is cracking in the lead role and a refreshingly horrific character but I think the short run time of just 88 minutes means the plot takes a massive knock as things go from 0 – Anarchist Cookbook in about 5 minutes. The jokes didn’t really land with the crowd (there was a small, appreciative group sat in the good seats closest to the screen who were having a grand old time but the rest of the theatre was all tumbleweed and crickets) and scenes with any sort of direct social critique were too brief to pierce their targets effectively. I’m going to give this one another go at some point because maybe it’s an actual piece of genius but I left the theatre this evening feeling massively disappointed.

Linnea Pettersson

Linnea Pettersson

Programming Assistant Read more posts by Linnea Pettersson


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