Berlin Film Festival to screen eight films portraying the city of Berlin at the India Habitat Centre

 A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

The German Embassy in collaboration with the India Habitat Centre is hosting a film festival with focus on the city of Berlin from April 7 - 18, 2022. As part of the festival, eight films are being screened at the India Habitat Centre, each of them portraying the city of Berlin from a different angle. In addition to co-curating the festival, I am also introducing each of the eight films before their respective screenings at the festival.

What makes this festival unique that here we are not just celebrating a director or a particular filmmaking style. What we are celebrating here is a city that has been captured by countless amazing film makers over the last century. The aim of the festival is to display a variety of films about Berlin, while covering a maximum of different directors and periods. So, other than celebrating its history and its culture, we are also celebrating all those filmmakers and their styles through the festival.

The opening film of the festival is the 2015 documentary about Berlin’s vibrant post-punk underground scene titled ‘B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989’. So we start with the Berlin of the 1970s and 80s at the height of the Cold War. Here is a fascinating documentary about Berlin’s vibrant post-punk underground scene titled ‘B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989. B-Movie is basically told through the eyes of British musician Mark Reeder who shifts to Berlin from Manchester in the year 1979 and goes on to become a key player in the city's underground scene, working as a concert promoter and sound engineer.

B-Movie is directed by a trio of TV-trained directors including Klaus Maeck, who is a frequent collaborator of the famed German-Turkish filmmaker Fatih Akin. Now the amazing part about this documentary is how it blends archive footage (home movies, super 8 film footage, etc.) with some cleverly staged reenactments making it a very interesting work. You will find some power visuals of the Berlin Wall in the documentary. There are snippets of David Bowie, Joy Division, Sex Pistols, Tangerine Dream, and others. Also, there is Nick Cave, Tilda Swinton, Keith Haring, and New Order, among others.

With the second film, the festival takes you back in time to the Berlin of the Roaring 20s with Walter Ruttmann's 1927 silent era masterpiece ‘Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis’. It is essentially an emblematic ‘city symphony’ film structured to follow the life of Berlin as well as its inhabitants across the course of a single day, from dawn to dusk.  

Leander Haußmann’s comedy film ‘Sonnenallee,’ which follows a group of kids growing up in East Berlin in the late 1970s, is the third film on the festival lineup, which is to be screened on April 9. The fourth film on the lineup, to be screened on April 10, is Wim Wender’s 1987 masterpiece ‘Wings of Desire’ about invisible, immortal angels who populate Berlin and listen to the thoughts of its human inhabitants, comforting the distressed. Wings of Desire which won him the Best Director award at Cannes. The film was remade by Hollywood as City of Angels (1998) with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan.

The next film on the lineup is Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s 2006 Oscar-winning drama ‘Das Leben Der Anderen’ (The Lives of Others), which will be screened on April 12. Set in 1984 East Berlin, it follows an agent of East Germany’s secret police who, while conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself increasingly
absorbed by their lives. 

Wolfgang Becker’s 2003 tragicomedy film ‘Good Bye Lenin!’ will be screened on April 15. Set in East Berlin between October 1989 (a few days before the Berlin Wall came down) and October 1990 (a few days after German reunification ), the film follows a young man who attempts to protect his fragile mother - a passionate communist - from a fatal shock after she comes out of a long coma. He does so by concealing from her the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in East Germany. The Bollywood film Door Ke Darshan (2020) is said to have been inspired by ‘Good Bye Lenin!’

The second last film on the lineup, to be screened on April16, is Tom Tykwer’s 1998 blockbuster ‘Run Lola Run’. The experimental thriller follows Lola who has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks to save her boyfriend’s life after a botched
money delivery. The Netflix film Looop Lapeta (2022) is an official remake of
‘Run Lola Run’.

The festival comes to a close on April 18 with Sebastian Schipper’s 2015 critically acclaimed ‘Victoria’—a crime thriller shot in a single continuous take which follows a young Spanish woman who meets four local Berliners outside a nightclub; but what starts as an exciting adventure quickly turns into a nightmare.

(To access the complete schedule of the Berlin Film Festival, visit: Entry is Free)

A version of this review was first published at The Daily Guardian.

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