Berlin Film Festival: Day 5 - My first trip to Kino International

Posted 7 March 2018

Five Fingers for Marseilles

The first film of the day was ‘U-July 22’: a re-enactment of the 2011 Utøya massacre. It begins about 20 minutes before the shooting starts, as news of the Oslo government building bombing reaches the teens at the summer camp. The rest of the film is an utterly harrowing real-time reconstruction of the hour and a half-long attack that is so heart-shattering that I can barely bring myself to think back to it. It does an incredible job at making you feel the horror with every gunshot but I don’t think I will be watching it again anytime soon.

Without giving myself too much time to think about what I’d just watched for fear I’d be unable to think about anything else for hours, I went on to my next film: ‘Amiko’, from 20-year-old Japanese director Yoko Yamanaka. ‘Amiko’ uses bold, experimental styles to explore the beauty and ugliness of first love through its titular teen character but for me it was more clunky than punky. It has some genuinely funny moments but I found myself zoning in and out, and I can’t really remember much of what actually happened other than a scene where a heartbroken Amiko is sat in a bath, eating a bowl of lemons.

‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’ was next up - another film I’d been looking forward to seeing that takes the epic Western to South Africa. The Five Fingers are a group of childhood friends in Marseilles (set during Apartheid) who come together to defend their town from the violent and oppressive police force, until the events of one grisly stand-off sees them go their separate ways – with one (Tau) going on the run. Tau returns to Marseilles 20 years later, only to find the town in the grip of a new terror, more complex and vicious than the last. I loved the use of the Western here that sets the film apart from being just another gritty crime film; it’s an impressively slick and compelling debut that I hope gets some well-deserved attention.

Another highlight of the day was the tenderly shot and beautifully sound-tracked ‘Cobain’, a powerful film from the Netherlands directed by Nanouk Leopold, which follows the more-friends-than-family relationship between a teenage boy and his pregnant, drug addicted mother. Bas Keizer who plays Cobain gives such a great performance here (and it has to be good – we spend just about every second with him) and Naomi Velissariou does well as his mother, Mia, that it almost distracts you from the fact that the rest of the characters are under-developed and under-used.

kino internationalI finished Monday by hopping on the U-Bahn for my first trip to the exquisite Kino International and a screening of ‘Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.’, which I LOVED. It’s a fierce documentary that looks at the life of M.I.A. - from her experience as a refugee fleeing Sri Lanka (due to her father’s involvement in founding the Tamil independence movement), to her career in music and use of her platform to draw attention to the scale of violence on the island. M.I.A.’s own documentary footage taken over a decade is used throughout (she wanted to be a filmmaker), which gives a sense of ownership over the film to her and a chance to tell a story she has been trying to tell for years, but had up until this point faced near non-stop condemnation from the press (US press in particular…). All in all, a similar mixed bag of films watched today – but being in the International was an incredible experience and of course I’m excited to see what tomorrow will bring!

Linnea Pettersson

Linnea Pettersson

Programming Assistant Read more posts by Linnea Pettersson


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