Berlin Film Festival

There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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What is Movie News After Dark? God only knows, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to need a bigger boat… We begin by shining our big ass MNAD spotlight on short filmmaking. Director BenDavid Grabinski‘s short film Cost of Living premiered at this year’s Fantastic Fest, where I unfortunately missed it. Luckily for me and anyone else who hasn’t seen it yet, the short is premiering online tonight around 9PM PST. Cost of Living stars Bret Harrison and Brandon Routh as a couple of security guards who work for a strange corporation. The enchanting Mary Elizabeth Winstead lends her voice to the proceedings as well. Check it out for yourself at www.foindustries.com anytime after 9PM PST. Looks like Sony is following in many other studios footsteps by sending out some sweet swag for it’s upcoming tentpole to top film bloggers. Peter Sciretta over at /Film was one of the lucky ones to receive a replica of Peter Parker’s bookbag from this summer’s franchise reboot The Amazing Spider-Man. Head on over to /Film to read the full story and see plenty of pics!

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On a hillside overlooking the beaches of Normandy, American soldiers surround a Korean and a Japanese man wearing Nazi uniforms. This is the second-most intriguing image of Mai-wei, the WWII epic from writer/director Je-gyu Kang. What’s even more fascinating is that the image is drawn directly from real life. How they got there (and into Hitler’s army no less) is a story told while trudging through the freezing mountains of Russia and the hot open plains of Korea. It’s an enormous movie, told through a decade as two competitive marathon runners – Jun-shik Kim (Dong-gun Jang) and Tatsuo Hasegawa (Jo Odagiri) – begin as alienated enemies and become friends through the brittle evolution of battle. Certainly its most striking achievements are the extended, highly-choreographed war scenes that steal the breath right out of your lungs. The visual style is an angrier version of Saving Private Ryan, but instead of beginning with Normandy, Mai-wei ends with it, and instead of having a few huge battles, Mai-wei has a solid half-dozen. Make no mistake; it’s a movie that slams your head into the wall without giving you a helmet.

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So you can’t afford the plane ticket (or you’re afraid they’ll show Mr. Popper’s Penguins on your cross-Atlantic flight). So you can’t stand to wait outside in freezing temperatures. So you can’t figure out why an international film festival is showing A Prairie Home Companion in a one-film Robert Altman retrospective. So what? That’s why we here at FSR are going to do all that for you. In 24 hours, I’ll be boarding a train, and 6 hours after that I’ll arrive at the apartment where I’ll sleep on Tim League’s floor for a week, catching all of the strange, the challenging, and the Oscar-worthy films of the future right here in the cold as hell country of Fritz Lang, Werner Herzog and Uwe Boll. That’s right sports fans, it’s the Berlin International Film Festival (also affectionately known as the Berlinale). It’s my first time, so we might all feel a little pinch, but I go undaunted into the morass of venues, celebrity sightings and movies in search of the flicks that demand to be cheered and shared. Coverage starts Thursday and will head on into next week. Berlin! It’s like Cannes except colder and more Prussian! Aren’t you glad you can experience it from home?

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Earlier this evening I was reading an excellent piece over at Cinematical by Jenni Miller. In a meditation about the state of affairs of director Roman Polanski, she asks a few interesting questions. Can we separate the artist from their personal life? It’s an interesting discussion to be had — and the situation surrounding Polanski is the perfect catalyst for such a discussion. It seems as though the jury in Berlin had that discussion, and we now have their answer.

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