Berlin 2012 Preview: Forum and Panorama

Brian Clark, European Editor

For part two of our Berlinale 2012 Preview (here's part one - the Competition Lineup), we'll be highlighting titles in the Forum and Panorama sections. What's the difference? According to the festival, the Forum section includes the most daring and risk-taking films of the program, while the Panorama section includes films specifically targeted at buyers (who are generally not as into risks or dares). So it's art for art's sake versus art for business' sake! To the films!

Forum



Nuclear Nation
One of three films in the program examining the consequences of the Japanese tsunami and the nuclear crisis that ensued, Funahashi Atsushi's documentary examines 1,400 inhabitants of Futaba who are housed in a suburb of Tokyo, including their desperate mayor. For different perspectives on this crisis, also see No Man's Zone and Friends after 3.11


The Woman in the Septic Tank
Besides the fact that Marlon N. Rivera's satire of three filmmakers on a quest for fame is already the most successful independent film ever in The Philippines, it gains automatic inclusion because of the title.


Beyond the Hill
Elmine Alper's Turkish film about a man fighting a mental battle with unseen enemies while his grandsons visit sounds intriguing enough, but if you're still skeptical, just check out the intense still.




Hemel
A film about a sexually destructive female helmed by a woman (Sacha Polak). Take that, Shame.


Kid-Thing
Fresh out of Sundance (where the film screened in the Next program), David and Nathan Zellner's (Goliath) tale of a ten-year old girl wreaking havoc outside of Austin, TX now makes its overseas debut.


Bestiare
Denis Côté's documentary promises a meditative look at the relationship between humans and animals, and apparently also between animals and the camera. According to the synopsis, the film mostly lets the images speak for themselves without commentary, and based on the stills, Côté captured some fantastic images. Animal enthusiasts should also check out Francine, in which Melissa Leo plays an ex-convict who turns to animals for rehabilitation.


For Ellen
So Young Kim's (Treeless Mountain) latest casts Paul Dano against type as a narcissistic Rock musician.


Old films are good films
Mixed into the diverse forum selection are older, mostly-unseen films by acclaimed filmmakers. These include Kawashima Yuzo's Between Yesterday and Tomorrow and Suzaki Paradise: Red Light, Shirley Clarke's The Connection and Ornette: Made in America, and also a survey of Cambodian film in the 60's and 70's.

Panorama



Cherry
Novelist Stephen Elliott (The Adderall Diaries) makes his directing debut, with James Franco, Heather Graham, Ashley Hinshaw and even Lili Taylor backing him up. The plot involves a young girl who gets into the porn industry, and also drugs.


Iron Sky
Space Nazis from the moon land in New York and... well, that's really all that needs to be said. But just in case, here's the trailer.


Call me Kuchu
Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright's documentary chronicles the life of David Katos, Uganda's first openly gay activist. I find that documentaries chronicling activists are some of the most interesting windows into social/cultural issues, because generally, those who choose to take action and speak out against injustice are also fascinating, witty and insightful characters apart from their causes. For further evidence, see Jonathan Demme's The Agronomist.


Man On Ground
Akin Omotso's melodrama examines the relationship between two very different brothers who are forced together when a riot breaks out in a Johannesburg township.


Headshot
Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Last Life in the Universe) returns to the world of neo-noir in this dark portrait of police corruption in Thailand. For more, check out the Thai trailer.


Highway
A man from Kathmandu gets a miracle potion from a healer in the mountains that will increase his wife's fertility, but the healer tells him he must get the medicine to his wife in town within 36 hours for it to work. On a bus in Nepal though, this proves quite difficult, thanks to strikes, traffic jams, breakdowns, angry villagers and general chaos.


10 +10
Twenty Taiwanese directors, including the always-sublime Hou Hsiao-Hsien, each create a five-minute short film inspired by the uniqueness of their country.


Diaz - Don't Clean up this Blood
Daniele Vicari's documentary chronicles the brutal police raid of the Diaz Pascoli School in Genoa, which at the time was temporarily providing a forum for journalists who were covering the G8 protests. For more on the event, see The Summit, also in the Panorama section.

As always, feel free to chime in with your own picks.

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