Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Berlinale 2012

Man for a day is an excellent documentary on performing gender and opens many interesting questions. If follows the work of gender performer and artist Diane Torr and her workshops "Man for a day". It is amazing how many different reasons women had to join this workshop, what effect it had on them and how subtly the topic of violence against women is touched. It is for sure one of the best documentaries  I've seen on the topic. Besides making you realise how we construct ourselves it also makes you laugh. Witty, smart, subversive. A definite yes.

Indignados tries to tell a story of cruel reality of illegal imigrants in Europe and put it in the context of Europe's protests and uprising but unfortunately does neither. I found the film dissapointing as story is shown to the audience rather than being felt by it.

I give the film credits for featuring female character as a main character and having beautiful photography with some quite arty scenes that work well, especially the one with loose oranges. However it also gives the feeling that the author wasn't really sure whether he wanted to show his artistic skills in photography, tell the story or make an exhibition of cool slogans and St├ęphane Hessel's thoughts.

The main character is kept at the distance from the audience thus not really inviting us to enter the story. She is mostly passively observing the uprising while coping with being homeless and having no rights. Even though she is allowed to speak and express her thoughts few times during the film, she doesn't add anything new to the story.

The movie might have raised my interest in learning flamenco and reading Hessel's books, it did however not captivate me in a way that I would loose myself in it. Juding by its appealing title I really expected much more.

Brand X is a parody that is ridiculing 60's TV commercials. Critics praised it for being funny and subversive and in the 70's it probably was. It is full of naked and half naked scenes, making fun of products, consumerism, ideas, shows and people. It is however also deeply mysoginistic film that celebrates rape culture.

Only very rarely I walk out of the cinema before the movie ends and brand X made me do exactly that. While the film might subvert ridiculousness of the system that glorifies cheap entertainment and headless consumerism, it pays lip service to that same system by glorifying sexism and there's really hardly anything subversive about that.

Words of witness is an excellent documentary answering the question: What happens after revolution? through the eyes of astonishing, smart and determinant young woman Heba Afify, a journalist working for independent newspaper in Egypt. She is looking for new stories with the same passion as she is  engaging into post-dictatorship era search for democracy in her country, sharing with us some of her concerns on politics, government, trust in authorities and people. Her political struggle goes hand in hand with her personal one, to be taken seriously as a journalist and as a young woman.

In the shadow of a man is an amazing documentation on women's life in Egypt. Even though it is Hanan Abdalla's first film and you can notice some out of focus shots, you forgive all of it when you hear the astonishing personal stories of women presented. She manages to capture intimate and political thoughts of Egyptian women on life, love and politics and break down the stereotypes we  might hold about women wearing burqa's. She manages to deliver personal reality of women in political way, giving the voice to those usually left invisible. In any case a great documentary that is worth seeing.

So all in all, my Berlinale this year was short but a good one.
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