A fresh edition of Berlinale Shorts gets under way
- A preview of some of the films showing in Berlinale Shorts, including a new effort by 2021 Golden Bear winner Radu Jude, Memories from the Eastern Front
As the films that make up the 2022 Berlinale Shorts begin to unspool in front of the public at this year’s edition of the Berlinale, they reflect upon a world that many find a complex one to navigate. From colonialism to sexual identity, via global warming, war and the scourge of social media, the wide-ranging selection of films speak of a fragmented world that is united by the human desire to understand more about our – and others’ – place in the complex ecosystem of modern life. As always, the shorts – all vying for a Golden Bear – run the gamut from the wildly experimental to stripped-back narratives. But all display a certain creative insouciance and willingness to play with form that the short film engenders.
While typically a place to shine a light on new talent, there are times when Berlinale Shorts will showcase the work of an established auteur. This year sees last year’s winner of the Golden Bear for Best Feature (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn [+see also:
interview: Radu Jude
film profile]) return to a Berlin competition. Co-directed with Adrian Cioflâncă, Radu Jude’s Memories from the Eastern Front (Romania) is a silent documentary that follows the movements of a Romanian soldier allied to the Nazis during World War II via the reminiscences and photographs in a photo album. The film plays with the meditative, with the still black-and-white photography, occasional captions and lack of sound creating an almost hypnotic rhythm. Yet the blithe surface sentiments, almost like a “What I Did on My Holidays” school essay, are soon shattered by revelations about the casual murder of Jews, and the raping and robbing of villagers. With Jude and Cioflâncă confronting not only Romanian antisemitism and culpability in the past, but also the disconnect between memory, reality and interpretation, it’s a fascinating film.
Two other documentaries in the section also deal with war, memory and reality. Dirndlschuld by Wilbirg Brainin-Donnenberg (Austria) is an absorbing personal work that deals with memories of how the dirndl traditional folk dress was used as a tool of oppression in the run-up to World War II, with Jews and others being forbidden from wearing it. The German documentary Retreat by Anabela Angelovska explores the Macedonian migrants who were recruited to work in the kitchens and laundry rooms of the US military bases in Afghanistan and Iran. This timely and fascinating piece reveals that, while the financial rewards were great, the prevalence of PTSD amongst those returning speaks of the horrors of war, even for those not directly involved.
By Flávio by Pedro Cabeleira (Portugal/France) is another timely story, as a girl goes on a date with a famous rapper and negotiates the complex rules that social media have now given to a young generation. Complexity is also rife in Soum (France), which sees a film from school La Fresnoy once again secure a place in Berlinale Shorts. Alice Brygo’s film is a kaleidoscopic examination of identity in a post-colonial age, which plays with fiction and reality.
Two experimental films promise a visceral experience. The Sower of Stars by Lois Patiño (Spain) couples an existential duologue musing on life and death with rhythmic footage of a city at night, the neon lights and moving vehicles melding into a hypnotic light show for the senses. Exalted Mars by Jean-Sébastien Chauvin (France) focuses on a man asleep, as the borders between dreams and reality disintegrate. It’s a hot and sticky film, in which sleep is both meditation and a conduit for passion and creativity.
Other highlights include the joyously strange French animation A Story for 2 Trumpets by Amandine Meyer; the rather brilliant Will My Parents Come to See Me by Mo Harawe (Germany/Austria/Somalia), which is the gut-wrenching story of a prisoner facing his last day before execution, replete with a brilliant central performance; and the equally stunning documentary Haulout by Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev (UK/Russia), in which a scientist on a remote Arctic island charts climate change in a unique, and slightly surreal, way.
The full list of films in competition at the 2022 edition of Berlinale Shorts is as follows:
A Story for 2 Trumpets - Amandine Meyer (France)
Agrilogistics - Gerard Ortín Castellví (UK/Spain)
Bird in the Peninsula - Atsushi Wada (France/Japan)
By Flávio - Pedro Cabeleira (Portugal/France)
Dirndlschuld - Wilbirg Brainin-Donnenberg (Austria)
Exalted Mars - Jean-Sébastien Chauvin (France)
Four Nights - Deepak Rauniyar (USA/Mexico/Nepal)
Further and Further Away - Polen Ly (Cambodia)
Haulout - Evgenia Arbugaeva, Maxim Arbugaev (UK/Russia)
Heroines - Marina Herrera (Peru)
House of Existence - Joung Yumi (South Korea)
It’s Raining Frogs Outside - Maria Estela Paiso (Philippines)
Kicking the Clouds - Sky Hopinka (USA)
Memories from the Eastern Front - Radu Jude, Adrian Cioflâncă (Romania)
Retreat - Anabela Angelovska (Germany)
Soum - Alice Brygo (France)
Starfuckers - Antonio Marziale (USA)
Sunday Morning - Bruno Ribeiro (Brazil)
The Sower of Stars - Lois Patiño (Spain)
Trap - Anastasia Veber (Russia/Lithuania)
Will My Parents Come to See Me - Mo Harawe (Germany/Austria/Somalia)
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