Kauwboy and The Mirror Never Lies
(Country: Japan; Year: 2011; Director: Isamu Hirabayashi)
The story of an earthquake and tsunami told by an agin cicada, in animated form.
All Hallow's Week (Hiljainen Viikko)
(Country: Finland; Year: 2011; Director: Jussi Hiltunen; Stars: Antti Luusuaniemi, Rosa Salomaa, Niilo Syväoja)
Early one morning, Kati turns up to collect her sister from a club, only to see her shot down before her very eyes by a crazed gunman. Kati feels partly responsible for her sister’s death. Had she not arrived late, her sister would still be alive. A bouncer at the club also blames himself for not reacting properly. Perhaps the encounter offers the two a chance to overcome the trauma. A short film about helplessness.
(Country: USA; Year: 2012; Director: Olivia Silver; Writer: Olivia Silver; Stars: John Hawkes, Ryan Simpkins, Kendall Toole, Ty Simpkins)
The car journey to Arcadia – a small town in sunny California – takes several days. This is where Dad and the three kids are heading in their estate car packed to the brim. At the beginning of their trip everyone is in fine spirits. Apparently, it’s just another relocation, the future looks bright and Mum will be joining them soon. But it soon occurs to twelve-year-old Greta that something’s not right. What is Dad hiding from them? And what does her teenage sister know that she doesn’t?The journey takes them right across the US, from motel to motel, snack bar to snack bar. Every day, Dad gets more irritable; he provokes embarrassing quarrels with other people and keeps having secret, heated conversations on his cell phone. Greta can’t seem to reach her mother on the phone. She’s really missing her. Every kilometre that brings the little family closer to California seems to make their world teeter. Actor-musician John Hawkes’ performance is convincing in the role of the father in young indie director Olivia Silver’s intelligent road movie. The use of music is sparing, instead, the sound of traffic noise, the nightly chirping of the cicadas and the wind that sweeps across the wide open spaces of North America dominates the soundtrack.
(Country: Macedonia; Year: 2011; Director: Marija Apchevska; Stars: Marija Blagoevska, Maja Velijkovik, Ljupka Dzundeva, Kiril Psaltirov, Marin Babik)
A little girl feels out of place at a funeral. While the bereaved adults stand about stiffly with grim faces the little girl runs off and is given a balloon as a gift outside the cemetery. The girl returns to the funeral procession; she is delighted because the face on her balloon reminds her of the deceased, her own father. BARDO is a Tibetan word meaning ‘in-between state’; the film invites the viewer to take a more light-hearted approach to death.
Beauty (Nosilatiaj. La Belleza)
(Country: Argentina; Year: 2011; Director: Daniela Seggiaro; Stars: Rosmeri Segundo, Sasa Sharet Isabel Mendoza, Ximena Banús, Víctor Hugo Carrizo, Camila Romagnolo, Hugo Nicolás Sona)
‘Don't ever let anyone cut your hair off’, Yolanda’s grandmother tells her in their Wichí Lhamtés language. Their beautiful long hair is the pride of the indigenous women of this nation. They live in north eastern Argentina, where they lead a secluded life in extreme poverty. Yolanda works as a housemaid for a large Argentinean family. Her employers are not wealthy people. The man of the house often leaves his overworked wife alone. Everyone is busy preparing for the ‘Quinceañera’, the fifteenth birthday of the daughter Antonella. Yolanda is bossed around by the family, who – although they are not rude – treat her without respect. When the family are all at table laughing and talking, Yolanda sits in front of her plate in the kitchen, alone. Sometimes she complains to her mother, when she sees her in front of the house. Most of the time, however, she endures her lot with great patience. That is, until one day, the family takes her along to the hairdresser. Afterwards, Yolanda takes to her bed for several days, falls ill and refuses to say a word. At her ‘Quinceañera’ celebrations Antonella climbs onto a small stage and dances flamenco. For Yolanda, it is a truly cutting experience.
Electrick Children and Zarafa
(Country: Germany; Year: 2012; Director: Nikki Schuster)
There’s rubbish and graffiti everywhere – but that’s just perfect. A decommissioned high-voltage electric power station is the monster’s grotesque face. Digitally animated pieces of scrap metal and plastic morph into absurd figures and dance to barrel organ music and techno whilst off-screen the sounds of a demonstration and the barely audible cries of ‘Nazis out!’ can be heard. A scaffold with portable toilets, the sound of a tram. Graffiti comes to life – it’s Berlin alright.
Bradford Dillman (Being Bradford Dillman)
(Country: UK; Year: 2011; Director: Emma Burch; Writer: Emma Burch, Emma Burch, Peter Williamson)
Pale-skinned Molly Flowers leads a miserable existence. Her mother drinks all day long and the boys give her a hard time whenever she’s out-of-doors. When Molly is struck by an arrow her mother has no desire to listen to her whingeing. She’d better not moan about boys because Molly herself was born a boy. Molly’s Mum has no idea what a cataclysmic admission this is.
Bright Night (Layla Bahir)
(Country: Israel; Year: 2011; Director: Li at Glik; Stars: Emma Sechvi Von Schwarze Yael Reich, Miki Leon, Natasha)
A little girl suffers dreadfully after her father dies. Time and again she picks up the things that belonged to him: his white shirt, his pipe, or his stethoscope. Her mother is too depressed to get out of bed and arrives late to pick her up from school. Her daughter responds with nasty, aggressive outbursts and does everything she can to destroy her mother’s friendship with another man. Sometimes it takes a fit of rage to find love again.
(Country: Netherlands; Year: 2011; Director: Sacha Polak; Stars: Annabel Dirkzwager, Abbey Hoes, Niels Gomperts)
Eleven-year-old Lauren spends a few days at home alone with her older brother and sister, Wout and Marit. Lauren loves her older brother and longs to be near him; every time they touch, she feels butterflies in her stomach. But then one day Lauren catches Marit and Wout clandestinely exchanging tender caresses – and she feels left out.
B I N O
(Country: Australia; Year: 2011; Director: Billie Pleffer; Stars: Edvard Hakansson, Nathan Chisholm, Andrew Gischus)
’Back in three weeks’ is the note his parents leave stuck to the fridge. Bino has got plenty of time on his hands. Sometimes he pushes his stolen shopping trolley to the country road, climbs into it and closes his eyes. Let’s see if a truck hits him this time. When an angry trucker kicks him into the ditch for his nonsense, it’s alright with him. There’s a boy in the neighbourhood who is even lonelier than his is. Could this be the beginning of a friendship?
Beauty and Una Noche
The Children from the Napf (Die Kinder vom Napf)
(Country: Switzerland; Year: 2011; Director: Alice Schmid; Writer: Alice Schmid)
Director Alice Schmid is renowned for her films about children: her documentary, I KILLED PEOPLE, about child soldiers in Liberia, was screened internationally to great acclaim. Now she has turned her attention to the extraordinary lives of children living in mountain farming communities in her native Switzerland. For this work, the director spent 365 days filming. The darkness is penetrated by torchlight and the sound of boots crunching in the snow; it is pitch black when the children, panting, make their way to school. Oberänzi and Oberlänggrat are the names of the two mountains that tower above the tiny village of Romoos, and Breitäbnet is the name of the green valley below. Life here, where children travel to school by cable car, seems frozen in time. On these mountain farms it’s all shoulders to the wheel – which means that the children are needed to drive the cattle, mend fences and help with the harvest. The animals need protection from a wolf – he’s already killed 27 sheep. And a hawk has been at the chickens. In spite of all the work, there’s still time to play in this stunning landscape as blissful children romp in summer meadows against a backdrop of country dancing and brass bands. And yet, more and more families are moving away. Finally, Christmas is upon us. Gently, the snow falls on this winter wonderland. ’A lovely dream’ sings a lone voice softly at the end – in Swiss-German, of course.
Generation K plus
(Country: Russian Federation; Year: 2012; Director: Natalia Mirzoyan)
A determined little Indian ant discovers the picture of a splendid-looking building amongst the rubbish on the beach and can think of nothing else. She makes it her life’s work to build the Taj Mahal from all different kinds of detritus. An animation film composed almost entirely of tea leaves – in various colours and textures.
Comes A Bright Day
(Country: UK; Year: 2011; Director: Simon Aboud; Writer: Simon Aboud; Stars: Craig Roberts, Imogen Poots, Kevin McKidd, Timothy Spall, Josef Altin)
Actually, all he wanted to do was ask her out to a concert. When Smith, a page at a five-star London hotel meets Mary Bright, a sales assistant working at a discerning jewellers, he’s well and truly smitten. But no sooner does Sam enter the posh portals than a group of heavily armed men bursts into the shop. The raid soon becomes disastrous: Sam is knocked to the ground and a female customer, an innocent bystander, is shot and killed. When a police armed response unit surrounds the building the thieves try to flee but are caught in hefty crossfire. Sam, Mary and her boss Charlie are now alone with two criminals – one an unpredictable, stuttering psychopath and the other, a wounded man who is very testy. The two men give their hostages a hard time. But while the gangsters furiously plan their escape route to the strains of soothing classical music, Sam, Charlie and Mary manage to find time for conversation. Plans for the future? Events come to a head: unable to contact the Minister for Home Affairs, the police allow their final ultimatum to come and go. Nonetheless, a romantic love story – in spite of everything.
(Country: Latvia; Year: 2011; Director: Janis Cimermanis)
A beautiful flamenco dancer, a toreador and a bull. The bull does not want to die and chases the toreador through the town and into the countryside until he escapes up a tree. But how on earth will the toreador ever get down again with the beast eyeing him from below? Thank goodness for mobile phones – and a rescue crew from Latvia. An amusing animated film about the dangers of bullfighting and the power of women.
CRAZY DENNIS TIGER
(Country: Germany; Year: 2012; Director: Jan Soldat; Writer: Jan Soldat; Stars: Dennis Kamitz, Philipp Kamitz, Marcel Sänger)
Taking pot shots with an air rifle at a snail on the railway tracks isn’t really very funny. Dennis does laugh though, just the once. Being a teenager in a small town in Brandenburg isn’t easy. Somehow he’s always so serious and wound up, like a tight coil. His only friend is his big brother. When his older sibling is injured by another boy, Dennis is bent on revenge. It’s too bad that his opponent is a wrestling champ. Director Jan Soldat’s hotly debated short film GELIEBT took part in the Berlinale’s Short Film Competition in 2010.
The Crown Jewels (Kronjuvelerna)
(Country: Sweden; Year: 2011; Director: Ella Lemhagen; Writer: Carina Dahl, Ella Lemhagen; Stars: Alicia Vikander, Bill Skarsgård, Björn Gustafsson)
Fragancia has apparently shot and killed Richard, an industrialist’s son. But what really happened? Ever since they were born on the same day in a small Swedish town, their lives have been inexorably entwined. As a child, Richard is at the mercy of his powerful, tyrannical father, who is determined that his son become a top ice hockey player. Fragancia comes from a poor background. She takes care of her disabled brother and worries about her father, a failed inventor in search of his fortune. Young and desperate, Richard falls in love with Fragancia, but she meets and gives her heart to another Prince Charming on ice. Soon after, her little brother disappears, leaving Fragancia faced with a dark mystery. Has he drowned in a lake because, as her mother says, children with a heart of gold cannot swim? Or has Richard committed a terrible crime? Ella Lemhagen’s thriller is interwoven with the little brother’s otherworldly, fairy-tale-like commentary.
Die Stille (The Quiet One)
(Country: Sweden; Year: 2011; Director: Emelie Wallgren, Ina Holmqvist)
Children from all over the world attend a special school in a Stockholm suburb where they first learn Swedish and find out what it’s like to live in this strange new country. Maryam has just arrived from Iran and isn’t as integrated as the other children. She often feels excluded and stays away from the others. But no sooner does she gain confidence and begin to make friends with other girls than she looks as though she might faint with happiness.
(Country: USA; Year: 2012; Director: Rebecca Thomas; Writer: Rebecca Thomas; Stars: Julia Garner, Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken, Billy Zane, Bill Sage)
A sheltered Mormon girl believes her unexplained pregnancy must have been caused by listening to rock music.
Generation 14 plus
French Kids (Jeunesses Françaises)
(Country: France; Year: 2011; Director: Stéphan Castang)
A group of pupils and school leavers agree to take part in a test and submit themselves to the tortures of the dreaded career interview. The young people are asked or rather interrogated about their goals and interests and their responses are evaluated. The questions that are put to these youths during this concentrated and multilayered experiment often reveal a more about their adult interviewers than the young interviewees. From time to time, the pig-headed, know-it-all tone of the questions can just be too much: ‘fuck off!’ says the last pupil.
(Country: India; Year: 2011; Director: Rajan Khosa; Writer: Rajan Khosa, Satyam, Dilip Shukla, Ankur Tewari; Stars: Mohammad Samad, Naresh Kumar, Bhura)
‘Truth with triumph in the end’ is the motto of the local school in the part of town where Gattu lives. But Gattu is too poor to go to school and he’s not always that truthful either. Gattu lives and works very hard at a scrap yard belonging to a man he simply calls ‘uncle’. Uncle bought him years ago from his sick father. Gattu is particularly inventive when it comes to thinking up excuses so he can slip away and indulge his passion for kite-flying. Day after day the children love to compete against each other with their kites. They’ve given the name Kali to one mysterious black kite that dominates the sky; strangely, nobody seems to know who owns it. If Gattu wants to win the next competition he’ll have to climb to the highest place in town. This is the school roof, of all places. Gattu manages to creep inside where he assumes command of a small but determined group of pupils. A dramatic battle of the skies ensues during which Gattu uses every trick in the book to claim the lead. But his greatest achievement is when, encouraged by his friendship with his new-found comrades, he decides to tell the truth.
(Country: Sweden; Year: 2012; Director: Carolina Hellsgård; Stars: Ida Åslund, Michaela Arvidsson, Ridah Abbas)
Linnea is full of longing. She spends a lot of her time at the riding stables on the outskirts of the city, where she lovingly strokes and tends to her horse. She knows far less about boys and clumsily rebuffs Erik’s tender advances. Her girlfriend, Jenny, is more advanced, even if she does go off with the wrong person. One dance is enough to seal the two girls’ friendship. A new phase in their lives has begun.
The Ice Dragon (Isdraken)
(Country: Sweden; Year: 2011; Director: Martin Högdahl; Writer: Mikael Engström, Petra Revenue; Stars: Philip Olsson, Malin Morgan, Feline Andersson, Vincent Grahl, Hampus Andersson)
Mik is proud of the fact that his father, the drummer of a somewhat has-been rock band called the Motherfuckers, is about to go on tour. But he is covered in embarrassment when he sees his father staggering drunkenly about suburban Stockholm. Mik’s mother is dead and although he enjoys watching zombie films with him otherwise his big brother has completely different interests. After school Mik likes to go to the Museum of Natural History to listen to the sound of the whales singing. And at night this eleven-year-old cooks a meal for the family. One day Mik’s father collapses and is sent to a clinic to dry out. Stepping in to look after Mik, the youth welfare people don’t get off on the right footing at all. Mik is reluctantly sent to his Aunty Lena who lives in a remote village in the north of Sweden. There are only twelve children in the whole school but at least there is Pi and her hip hop gang. They’re cool. In the midst of this snowy landscape Mik’s thoughts drift time and again to the whales; he’s fascinated by way they manage to keep in contact with each other all their lives. No sooner has Mik begun to settle in and even enjoy village life than the welfare people turn up to take him away to live with a foster family.
(Country: Australia; Year: 2011; Director: Matthew Moore; Writer: Matthew Moore; Stars: Ed Oxenbould, Leon Ford, Christopher Stollery, Morgana Davies, Will Cottle)
Nine-year-old Julian is an attentive, precise boy who likes to line up his pens neatly on his desk. When a girl complains to him about the other kids’ misbehaviour, he informs the teacher right away. The teacher sends him off to the headmaster, but Julian doesn’t find that fair at all. What is to become of such a boy?
Just a little (Bara lite)
(Country: Sweden; Year: 2011; Director: Alicja Björk Jaworski)
It’s the first warm day of the year. A little pig makes its way merrily to the lake. On the way there, he meets a hedgehog that nobody wants to play with because he doesn’t have enough prickles. A crow with a long beak, a green lamb and a calf with too many flecks all have the same problem. Down at the lake this group of rather special animals meets a big fat frog who can make dreams come true.
Just Pretended to Hear (Kikoeteru, furi wo sita dake)
(Country: Japan; Year: 2011; Director: Kaori Imaizumi; Stars: Hana Nonaka, Meru Gouda, Takayuki Sugiki, Aki Etchu, Yasumi Yashima)
Sachi is an introverted little girl. Her mother dies unexpectedly and although she doesn’t shed a tear, her pain is nonetheless deep and keen. Helpless, Sachi’s father dons his starched shirt and perfect tie and tries his best pick up his work-a-day routine once more. Sachi’s only comfort is a necklace with a ring that belonged to her mother. This keepsake helps Sachi to believe that her mother is always near, protecting her. Bereft, lonely and consumed by grief, her father descends at home into a kind of dementia. And so Sachi will have to manage by herself somehow. Are there such things as ghosts? Her new girlfriend at school certainly thinks so. But when the existence of an afterworld is refuted during a lesson Sachi loses the one thing that was keeping her going. All at once, she feels vulnerable and brutally exposed to boundless, unbearable emptiness. In long, intense shots, the director succeeds in creating an unsolvable discord between childlike belief and rational thought. Ultimately, the loss of naïve hope can also be seen as a new beginning.
(Country: Netherlands; Year: 2012; Director: Boudewijn Koole; Stars: Rick Lens, Loek Peters, Susan Radder, Hüseyin Cahit Ölmez)
A boy with a difficult home life befriends an injured jackdaw.
(Country: Australia; Year: 2011; Director: Alex Murawski; Stars: Remy Hii, Sophie Lowe, Benedict Victor Samuel)
It’s just a kiss. No big deal. Tom has never kissed anyone before though. His best friend convinces him to practise, at least once, with his girlfriend. The first attempt doesn’t work, because they can’t stop laughing. The second time is better: very tenderly, their lips touch. They laugh again, but this time, the laughter is a little more self-conscious. At the party the next day, Tom has eyes for no-one else.
(Country: Greece; Year: 2012; Director: Babis Makridis; Writer: Efthymis Filippou, Babis Makridis; Stars: Aris Servetalis, Makis Papadimitriou, Lefteris Mathaios, Nota Tserniafski, Stavros Raptis)
A man who lives in his car gets caught up in the undeclared war between motorcycle riders and car drivers.
(Country: New Zealand; Year: 2011; Director: Sam Kelly; Writer: Sam Kelly; Stars: Waka Rowlands, Dyanni Ross, Shaden Te Huna)
Jimmy, a young Maori, decides to quit school after an argument with his teacher. Nobody shows any interest in his reasons. Life is unbearable in his dysfunctional family where violence and alcohol reign. But Jimmy’s little brother and his sister both need him; he is the only one who looks after them. This film is a hard-hitting exploration of the conditions in which many Maoris are living today.
Levi's Horse (Levis hest)
(Country: Norway; Year: 2011; Director: Torfinn Iversen; Writer: Torfinn Iversen; Stars: Jørgen Langhelle, Henrik Carlyle, Markus Mortensen Abeler, Håvard K. Davidsen, Marius Platt)
In the snow-covered woods of the North, friends are rare. Jonas really wants to be accepted by the other boys. So he lets the group’s vicious leader treat him pretty much whatever way he likes. In his need to belong, Jonas even stones a small pony. Jonas himself is distraught about what he has done and tries to make amends. A story about a boy’s bid for freedom.
The little Bird and the Leaf (Der kleine Vogel und das Blatt)
(Country: Switzerland; Year: 2012; Director: Lena von Döhren)
It’s winter. At the end of a branch hangs a single leaf. A little black bird comes along to water the leaf, but it falls off. The wind lifts the leaf and dances with it through the snowy wood. The little bird joins in, delighted. But the fiery red fox behind the tree is already licking his lips.
Lotte and the Moonstone Secret (Lotte ja kuukivi saladus)
(Country: Estonia / Latvia; Year: 2011; Director: Janno Põldma, Heiki Ernits; Writer: Heiki Ernits, Andrus Kivirähk, Janno Põldma)
Whenever Lotte looks at the moon, she wonders who might live there. One night two small hooded figures try to snatch a magic stone which Lotte’s uncle once brought back from a trip to the mountains. Lotte prevents the theft and in doing so discovers that the stone possesses mysterious powers. The people who travelled with her uncle on his earlier trip also own stones like these. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, Lotte persuades her uncle to accompany her on an adventure-filled expedition. A lovelorn musician turns out to be the least of the problems that Lotte and her uncle must overcome, for the hooded figures are also hot on their heels. The stones belong to them, and they must retrieve them before the moon fades once more.This children’s animation offers a rich array of endearing characters and hilarious ideas. It celebrates imagination and the many little adventures life has to offer to those who are curious. This is the third in a series of films, the first of which, LEIUTAJATEKÜLA LOTTE, was screened at the 2007 Berlinale.
Love Is In The Air (Magi I Luften)
(Country: Denmark / Sweden; Year: 2011; Director: Simon Staho; Writer: Peter Birro, Simon Staho; Stars: Emma Sehested Høeg, Gustav Hintze, Victoria Carmen Sonne, Anton Honik)
Decked out in toreador bolero jackets, paper hats and parade uniforms, four young people dance and sing in a blaze of light and glitter. They are celebrating Teresa’s birthday – with drugs and music in full flow. It will be a long and turbulent night; a decisive night, too, because Teresa is sixteen and still a virgin. Tonight she’s determined to sleep with Stefan, but Stefan either won’t or can’t oblige. Even the red thigh boots Teresa breaks a shop window to get don’t seem to help.Daniel pines for Lina – especially when she sings her gorgeous songs. Although Teresa’s girlfriend claims to have slept with fifty-three boys, she won’t let Daniel touch her. Lina dreams of seducing a rock star and wants to make it big as a singer. Daniel would give his eye teeth to persuade Lina to sleep with him. But even a crazy spin in a stolen VW Beetle fails to make Lina see who really deserves her affections.This iridescent Danish musical is a blend of fast-paced sequences and moments of calm that constantly pushes back the borders of the genre. The film marks young singer Emma Sehested Høeg’s fifth outing.
Maori Boy Genius
(Country: New Zealand; Year: 2011; Director: Pietra Brettkelly; Stars: Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti)
Ngaa Rauuira is the young genius who has inspired his people and hopes to change their polical fortunes.
(Country: New Zealand; Year: 2011; Director: Sam Holst; Writer: Sam Holst, Mike Robinson; Stars: Jesse James Rehu Pickery)
‘Don’t fuck it up’ is Michael’s father’s parting shot as he drops his son off at his new job, which Michael finds it truly intimidating. Great sides of beef hang packed closely together in a huge hall while serious-faced men butcher them swiftly and impassively. Friendly looks for Michael are few and far between. It won’t be easy for him to keep up.
The Mirror Never Lies (The Mirror Never Lies)
(Country: Indonesia; Year: 2011; Director: Kamila Andini; Writer: Kamila Andini, Dirmawan Hatta; Stars: Atiqah Hasiholan, Gita Novalista, Reza Rahadian, Eko, Zainal)
A young girl grieves for her missing father.
The Monkey King - Uproar in Heaven 3D (Da Nao Tian Gong 3D)
(Country: People's Republic of China; Year: 2012; Director: Da Su, Zhihong Chen)
The heavenly adventures of the Monkey King Sun Wukong. From the Flower-Fruit Mountain to the epic battlefields in the palaces of the Dragon King and the powerful Celestial Jade Emperor. The quick-witted Sun uses all his cunning and artfulness to overcome the 100,000 heavenly warriors. As a result, heaven is well and truly plunged into havoc.Made at Shanghai Animation Film Studio in 1964, DA NAO TIAN GONG is still well known in China today. Directed by Laiming Wan and four years in the making, this animation was created by hand from around 130,000 ink drawings and includes an opulent soundtrack influenced by the songs and music of Beijing Opera. In their restoration, directors Da Su and Zhihong Chen have maintained the spirit of the original, much of it having been restored by adding further hand-drawn images; the original soundtrack was also re-recorded and carefully complemented by new pieces with a western flavour. The restorers also collaborated with 3D specialists from the films AVATAR and HARRY POTTER, making this one of the first restorations to make use of 3D technology.
Mustafa's Sweet Dreams
(Country: Greece / UK; Year: 2011; Director: Angelos Abazoglou)
Everyone in Turkey is familiar with the delicious pistachio-filled baklava that is made in Gaziantep in Anatolia. This is where sixteen-year-old Mustafa works in his uncle’s large bakery, together with a lot of other boys. The rules here are clear-cut: if an apprentice is disrespectful to a master baker this could well earn the apprentice a beating. The novice bakers – some of them no more than ten years of age – are fed up with being bossed around by master bakers at work and parents at home. They all have dreams of a better life. Mustafa longs to go to Istanbul where he hopes to gain fame as the greatest baklava baker of all time. One day, he decides to set off – against his uncle’s wishes.Director Angelos Abazoglou interweaves Mustafa’s story with documentary-style images of real local people and locations. Thus we are treated to images of women at the market, as well as village life and men enjoying a dance together. Abazoglou reserves his most poetic and sensual images for the portrayal of baklava-making: be it the wafer-thin layers of pastry shimmering against the light or the powdery dusting of flour on the young apprentices’ hair. And no sooner do the sweet pastries emerge from the oven than the mouth begins to drool.
(Country: USA; Year: 2011; Director: Justin Tipping; Writer: Joshua Beirne-Golden, Justin Tipping; Stars: Tsai Chin, Johnny Ortiz)
What fun it is to bomb a wall with colour! Eighty-four-year-old Isabel is slowly succumbing to dementia, but her new pastime has given her a new lease of life. Oscar has been sentenced to community service at an old folks’ home for illegal spraying. Isabel catches sight of Oscar on his nocturnal spraying and asks him to take her out with him. Oscar kind of digs his new graffiti partner, although he’s never met anyone who sprays as slowly as she does. But before long she even has her own tag – Nani.
Night of Silence (Lal Gece)
(Country: Turkey; Year: 2012; Director: Reis Çelik; Writer: Reis Çelik; Stars: Ilyas Salman, Dilan Aksüt)
A convoy of cars, decorated horsemen and the sound of drums and shawms. Men dance, illuminated by the flames from torches; women dance apart from the men. This is a traditional wedding in a remote part of Turkey. It’s an arranged marriage. Neither the bride nor the groom were given a choice. What happens when a much older man is married to a young girl? In his quiet, intimate film, director Resi Çelik succeeds in telling the tragic story of an unusual wedding night – without the strains of a musical score on the soundtrack. The groom has recently been released from prison; he has spent most of his life behind bars on account of two honour killings. This marriage is meant to put an end to a blood feud that has lasted many years. After the ceremony, he finds himself alone with his bride; lifting her veil he looks into the frightened face of a fourteen-year-old girl. He tries to be nice to her, and gentle, but he is a desperate, broken man. She hesitates and tries to use other distractions to get through the night. Night passes and dawn arrives, bringing the relatives with it; all of whom are waiting for the stained bed sheet that will prove that everything is as it should be.
(Country: Philippines; Year: 2011; Director: Rommel Tolentino; Writer: Rommel Tolentino; Stars: Axle Aeiou Samson, Russel Abulad, Allen Dimaunahan)
Whenever the schoolchildren sing the national anthem eight-year-old Toto is asked to keep quiet. He has a cleft lip and his garbled voice always makes everyone laugh. But this boy from the slums is a battler and not so easily daunted. His mate is a little boy who is hard of hearing; when these two are on the prowl together even the bruiser next door doesn’t bother them. Toto’s mother can’t really look after her son much. She’s got too much on her plate trying to manage her men. She dreams of going to Japan to work as a geisha. But if push comes to shove Toto can always depend on his headstrong yet warm-hearted mother. She even supports his somewhat ludicrous plan to take part in a public speaking contest. Rommel Tolentino has won plenty of awards in Asia for his short films. His colourful feature-length debut makes a stand for a life which, although sometimes painful, is nonetheless fulfilled and follows its own route away from well-worn paths. This film has no qualms about facing its topics of discrimination and social exclusion head on, or of depicting abnormality as something that can be life-enriching.
Off White Lies (ORCHIM LeREGA)
(Country: Israel / France; Year: 2011; Director: Maya Kenig; Stars: Gur Bentwich, Elya Inbar, Tzahi Grad, Salit Achi-Miriam)
Libby is thirteen. She has come to Israel to live with her father, Shaul, – although she barely knows him and doesn’t really know what to think of him. Shaul is a charming rogue who manages to get by on a pack of white lies. He’s permanently broke – in spite of a string of curious inventions – and doesn’t even have a home to call his own. Apparently this poses no problem because there’s a war on and so, pretending to be a single father from a village hit by a rocket, he manages to pursuade a well-to-do family to provide a bed for himself and his daughter. But how does Libby cope with this new lifestyle? She is now of an age where she needs to carve her own niche in life and is no longer prepared to do as she’s told. And so it’s only a matter of time before she tugs at the reins and tears down Shaul’s carefully constructed web of lies. But could this end spell a new beginning? Maya Kenig’s film takes an unusual approach to describing life in a country where war has become the norm and where people have learned to live in a permanent state of emergency. Her protagonist’s gaze is alert and reflects a future that is wide open.
(Country: Bolivia / Mexico; Year: 2011; Director: Héctor Ferreiro; Stars: Limber Calle, Erika Andia, Wilmer Mamania, Cayo Salamanca)
Tito, a shoeshine boy, sleeps on the streets of La Paz. Slumbering underneath a Zapata hat he dreams of another world until he is rudely awakened by his nightmarish present – and the discovery of the theft of the shoeshine box he needs to survive. Everywhere around him a constant battle is being waged against miserably impoverished social conditions. When the indigenous population makes a stand for their rights the police answer with tear gas and sharpshooting. A mysterious woman accompanies Tito in surreal dream sequences. She leads him down ancient Inca paths where he receives the wisdom of his ancestors and feels his spiritual bond with the earth, until the quiet of the mountains and the sound of the water are interrupted once more by the sound of street fighting. A film that is also an impassioned clarion call, Héctor Ferreiro’s PACHA is a radical, visually powerful and poetic appeal for change. The film is based on demonstrations that took place in 2003 when Bolivia’s indigenous majority protested against the sale of their gas resources to American companies. During the uprising sixty people were killed by government forces.
Papas Tango (Papa's Tango)
(Country: Netherlands; Year: 2011; Director: Michiel van Jaarsveld; Writer: Amarins Maantje Romkema; Stars: Lucia Almeida-Carrion, Fidel Garcia Cortéz, Saskia Temmink)
Papa was her very first dance partner. As soon as she was born he took Hannah in his arms and rocked her. Papa comes from Argentina; a musician, he has tango in his blood. Hannah likes him very much, even if they can’t meet every day. It’s tough when he leaves Holland to return to his own country. But there is a way to stay close.
The Path of a Hare (Hazenpad)
(Country: Netherlands; Year: 2011; Director: Lotte van Elsacker)
A hare’s life, told in silhouette. A young hare sniffs out his natural habitat and comes across his reflection in the water for the first time. His mother tenderly explains all the things he must watch out for outside their burrow. Dangers lurk in the shape of birds of prey and foxes. Nature is not always peaceful and beautiful. But life always goes on.
(Country: Republic of Korea (South Korea); Year: 2011; Director: Han Lee; Stars: Aine Yu, Yun-seok Kim)
Wan-deuk is seventeen. He has no friends at school, his grades are poor and he is victimised by his class teacher on a daily basis. Wan-deuk lives with his vertically challenged, hunchbacked father in a Seoul slum. Wan-deuk’s father used to be a dancer in a variety show. Nowadays he scrapes together a living performing at rural markets. People who live in the slum have a tendency to quarrel and fight over the slightest thing. Wan-deuk himself is not averse to hitting out whenever his emotions run high. As if he weren’t already saddled with enough bad luck, his hateful teacher just happens to live next door. Wan-deuk finds no peace – not even at home.However, slowly it begins to dawn on the boy that his crotchety teacher means him no harm. On the contrary, his constant provocations are intended to prepare him for life’s knocks. Wan-deuk finds fulfilment in boxing. And his teacher cautiously brings about a reunion with the Filipina mother Wan-deuk never even knew he had. This is a film about poverty, discrimination and how to defy everyday misery with a little humour and rebellion. The screenplay is based on Lyeo-ryung Kim’s eponymous novel.
(Country: Germany; Year: 2012; Director: Milen Vitanov; Writer: Vera Trajanova, Milen Vitanov)
A good-hearted racehorse wins one race after another, making his jockey a champ. But the only lush green meadows he knows are the images on the flat screen monitor in his horse box. Then something goes wrong and nothing seems to work any more. Left in the lurch by his owner, the horse finds himself having to stand on his own four legs. But his longing for nature gives him untold strength. A humorous animation about the love of fresh grass.
Schnee im Paradies (Snow in Paradise)
(Country: New Zealand; Year: 2011; Director: Justine Simei-Barton, Nikki Si'ulepa; Stars: Mereana Bishop, Vainehuraorairai Taamo Charlie, Tatira Tatira)
It’s warm and the sun is shining. Effortlessly nature succeeds in providing us with the things we need: crystal clear seawater for the fish, coconut for the land. The islanders live a happy and healthy life – until, far away, a massive ball of fire rises on the horizon and powdery snow rains down bringing destruction. Undeterred by international criticism, France continued to test atom bombs in the South Pacific until 1995. The people and the environment continue to suffer here as a result of these tests.
(Country: People's Republic of China; Year: 2011; Director: Qi Wang; Stars: Juntao Yang, Yuansi Liu, Rui Yang, Jiaqi Wang, Hanyang Chen)
A boyish prank on a dismal school playground goes horribly awry and a schoolgirl is baldy injured. Only one of the boys involved tries to help her. But his attempt to take responsibility for his actions gets lost in the self-centred hubbub generated by the mothers and teachers. Shot in one continuous take, the film explores the meaning of truth and reality – not just in terms of content but also on a formal level.
A Secret World (Un Mundo Secreto)
(Country: Mexico; Year: 2012; Director: Gabriel Mariño; Writer: Gabriel Mariño; Stars: Lucía Uribe, Roberto Mares, Olivia Lagunas, Claudia Ríos)
‘Maria, someday somebody will notice you and realise how special you are …’ these are the words that Maria notes down in her diary. She also writes herself passionate love letters. But nobody notices how desperate she is. How could they? She is such an unassuming girl and hardly ever speaks. Not even to the boys she often allows to sleep with her, just like that. Afterwards she slaps her face hard. She can’t go on like this. So, instead of celebrating the last day of school with the others, Maria packs her rucksack, climbs aboard the cross-country bus and travels Mexico. She discovers a beautiful but decrepit land of young, deserted mothers and men in search of other women. The lucky ones make it over the border to the US. Maria has one intimate, secret dream that only she knows about. And then she meets a young man who is different from all the rest: he is respectful and attentive – and even too shy to share a room with her. More than a subdued road movie, this drama is also a cinematic poem of carefully composed images and sounds in which out-of-focus shots reflect the introverted protagonist’s point of view. The film was photographed by Berlinale Talent Campus alumni Ivan Hernandez.
(Country: Netherlands; Year: 2012; Director: Meral Uslu; Writer: Stan Lapinski; Stars: Ali Cifteci, Nazmye Oral, Dileria Horuz, Esra Horuz)
Sometimes the smallest thing is enough to make them explode and then all of a sudden it’s a life-or-death situation. The three lads Mohamed, Mounir and Nouredin have a lot of fun with their mates – but there’s also so much anger inside them. They may be born to Moroccan parents in the Netherlands but they don’t feel at home here or anywhere else for that matter. They manage to get along somehow thanks to a bit of dealing here and there; or perhaps they’ll steal a bike, or break in somewhere. None of them could ever imagine working for a boss and if any of them were to try and pretend that they’re top dog they’d get a mouthful from the others. Ali’s snack bar in suburban Amsterdam is where they eat, hang out, smoke dope, fight and have a laugh. Ali, a Turk, runs the little café with his wife and children. A child of the ghetto himself, he knows exactly how to get along with the lads. He listens to their troubles and tries to mediate when they fight. At times they can be a real pain and he’s been known to get tough if the need arises. Nonetheless, he too has his problems. The film’s director Meral Uslu was herself born into a family of Turkish immigrants to the Netherlands. Her drama is an authentic and convincing portrait of this milieu.
(Country: UK; Year: 2011; Director: Matt Greenhalgh; Writer: Alex Walker; Stars: Nichola Burley, Matthew Beard)
He collects shopping trolleys in the huge car park. She sits inside at the check-out and has to explain the difference between two types of yoghurt. At first they just exchange glances; then there’s a shy, silent encounter in the staffroom. He summons up the courage to make a move and they get to know each other better. They sense a connection somehow. Sometimes a rubber band can come to your aid.
Taking Chances (Patatje Oorlog)
(Country: Netherlands / Belgium; Year: 2011; Director: Nicole van Kilsdonk; Writer: Marjolijn Hof, Lotte Tabbers; Stars: Pippa Allen, Johnny de Mol, Rifka Lodeizen, Leny Breederveld, Ruben van der Meer)
Chips with mayonnaise, red onions and hot saté sauce is what you get if you order Patatje Oorlog or ‘chips war’ in Holland. Holland has not been troubled by war for a very long time and nowadays war is something that happens elsewhere. And yet war can also affect people’s lives at home – so too the life of Kiek. This nine-year-old girl is very worried about her father, a doctor. He’s urgently needed in a foreign country ravaged by war. Kiek is afraid that even if he doesn’t use a weapon, her father could still be hit by a stray bullet. Although her mother explains that this is very unlikely, Kiek isn’t convinced and feels she needs to do something. Her childish logic gives rise to strange ideas: she imagines that if her beloved dog were to die, there would be less likelihood of something happening to her father. Then, when her father’s daily calls begin to dry up and cracks even start to appear in her mother’s carefully preserved façade, Kiek decides it’s time to act. Nicole van Kilsdonk’s non-sensationalist film portrays a problem which is today almost commonplace, as seen through the eyes of a child. The story also touches on existential questions, such as whether it is possible to live one’s life without taking risks.
Two Little Boys
(Country: New Zealand; Year: 2011; Director: Robert Sarkies; Writer: Duncan Sarkies, Robert Sarkies; Stars: Bret McKenzie, Hamish Blake)
Everything goes wrong one night for Nige. Speeding down the road, he sees the police, panics, and before he knows it, he runs over and kills a Norwegian football star on a backpacking tour. Luckily, nobody sees the accident and so Nige promptly tips the body into a building site shaft and sets off in search of his best friend, Deano’s help. The latter immediately takes care of the situation – although getting rid of the corpse for good proves more time-consuming that they thought. The whole operation is more than a test of their friendship because the two guys have recently quarrelled. And then this absurdly nice flat-mate Gav also sticks his oar in. He doesn’t suspect a thing but he could be a dangerous witness. Director-and-screenwriting team, the brothers Robert and Duncan Sarkies, spin this darkly humorous tale with more than a soupcon of merriment and a strong affinity for the grotesque. Their film also movingly portrays a special friendship: deep inside, Nige and Deano are just two little boys who are thick as thieves – and even death cannot part them.
(Country: USA, Cuba, UK; Year: 2012; Director: Lucy Mulloy; Writer: Lucy Mulloy; Stars: Dariel Arrechada, Anailin de la Rua de la Torre Javier Nuñez Florian)
Fed up with catering to the privileged tourist class, Cuban teens Raul and Elio are tantalised by the promise of a new life in Miami. Accused of assaulting a foreigner, Raul has no choice but to flee, but Elio must decide whether his own escape is worth abandoning his beloved sister.
Unruly (Banga Inte)
(Country: Sweden; Year: 2011; Director: Fanni Metelius; Stars: Linnea Cart-Lamy, Mia Saarinen, Isabelle Andersson, Kevin Vega, Linus Ekman)
Gothenburg teenagers in 1999. Mickan doesn’t want to have a steady boyfriend and prefers to play the field. Leon has a steady girlfriend. He’s not like Mickan and tells her to his face – just before they have a quick one. It’s hard to know what you really want.
(Country: Australia; Year: 2011; Director: Grant Scicluna; Writer: Grant Scicluna; Stars: Reef Ireland, Shannon Glowacki)
Life at a juvenile detention centre is tough for cell mates Malcolm and Tye. Everyone knows that the two are a couple. Quiet Tye often seems to provoke attacks from his fellow inmates; this means that muscular Malcolm is his chief protector. But from now on his lover won’t be able to protect him any more because if he’s involved in one more fight he can forget his coveted day prisoner status – a situation about which everyone inside is well aware. The film’s director won the Australian Orlando Award for Best Queer Short in 2011 for his work NEON SKIN.
Young & Wild
(Year: 2011; Director: Marialy Rivas; Writer: Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano; Stars: Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Kuppenheim, María Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto)
Seventeen-year-old Daniela, raised in the bosom of a strict Evangelical family and recently unmasked as a fornicator by her shocked parents, struggles to find her own path to spiritual harmony.
(Country: France, Belgium; Year: 2012; Director: Rémi Bezançon, Jean-Christophe Lie; Writer: Alexander Abela, Rémi Bezançon; Stars: Max Renaudin, Simon Abkarian, François-Xavier Demaison, Vernon Dobtcheff, Roger Dumas, Ronit Elkabetz, Mohamed Fellag, Déborah François, Thierry Frémont, Philippe Morier-Genoud, Clara Quilichini, Mostéfa Stiti)
A young boy, a prince and a balloonist escort a young giraffe halfway across the world, having adventures on the way.