The James Franco Phenomenon Projected in Multiples for Serendipitous Effects: With a new triple play that made him ubiquitous at the 65. Berlinale, Franco proclaimed his Berlin experience as EPIC. (Photo by LPS)
The quantum wave cresting for the past two years in Berlin collapsed in the EVENT that was the 65th Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin.
The choices of festival director Dieter Kosslick were bold, adventurous and outright (r)evolutionary for daring to take film into exciting new directions. Serendipity and multiplicity* rebirthed the Berlinale after last year's weight of the Clooney "Monuments Men" star baggage diverting attention from the real objective of the Kosslick curation: identifying and encouraging cinematic breakthroughs.
This year they came in multiples from around the globe. Yet, the spotlight was on the home grown, Wim Wenders, whose retrospective homage...
...discloses the German filmmaker's astonishing evolution.into the ever-present origin of the ancient archetype of the hieros gamos as an organizing principle for art. (Directorʼs Cut/Until the End of the World/Bis ans Ende der Welt film still photo of Solveig Dommartin & William Hurt © Wim Wenders Stiftung 2014)
The quantum leap prescient in Franco's 2013 Berlin art exhibition crystallized through the 3-D lens of Wender's new cinematic triumph: "Everything Will Be Fine" is about a repressed author (James Franco) evolving into a whole human being through his multidimensional relationships with three female archetypes - maiden, mother and crone. (Photo of James Franco & Wim Wenders by Donata Wenders, © NEUE ROAD MOVIES GmbH)
The stage was set in Marlene Dietrich Platz for a collapse of linear hierarchies into the magic of the cyclical with the fairy tale of transformation inaugurating the Berlinale 65 years ago. "Cinderella", while honoring the legitimacy of class (in that the key to living happily ever after is marrying into royalty), uses the cyclical theme of feminine rebirth to undermine the patriarchal emphasis linear hierarchy dependent on bloodline.
Lily James as Cinderella, off to the Ball via a well-timed highly stylized entanglement between two actresses and the third element of magic transforming organic nature into a golden chariot. (Photo by Jonathan Olley © Disney Enterprises)
Kenneth Branagh's enchanting "Cinderella", with the multidimensional characters of an oustanding ensemble cast including Cate Blanchett as a deliciously wicked step-mother, closed the festival with a nod to the Greek myth of Psyche & Eros. (press conference photo by LPS)
Cinderella's internal engagement with the long-repressed feminine spirit popularizes a bold new frontier for filmmaking pioneered by Kosslick's choices: the long buried ancient feminine mythology of descent and rebirth. What was truly extraordinary about 65. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin was the ferocity with which the new frontier of this ancient myth was accessed from the most unlikely sources, suggesting a fourth wave of feminism as the authentic liberation of humans as holistic beings.
"I've got my first bear!" were the empowering words uttered in a female voice that opened Berlinale 65.
...they were uttered by Juliette Binoche (Josephine Peary) in Isabel Coixet's "Nobody Wants the Night" (Nadie quiere la Noche). (Press Conference photo L-R: Rinko Kikuchi, Isabel Coixet, Gabriel Byrne and Juliette Binoche by LPS)
While not prophetic, the utterance foretold of the desire pushing the author wife of the famous North Pole explorer into unknown terrain: the inner kundalini transformation as a mirroring of the female filmmaker's empowering new status as the second woman director to open the Berlinale.
The myth was disclosed through environmental (as well as budgetary) extremes. Laura Bispuri's debut feature "Sworn Virgin" (Vergine Giurata) had actress Alba Rohrwacher exploring inner gender polarities in the Albanian hills--far removed from the confining labels that James Franco railed against as a spiritual seeker in...
...Justin Kelly's "I am Michael", a moving & balanced biopic of the American gay activist Michael Glatze transformed by way of his self-aware erotic "trinity" (father, son & Holy Ghost) into the minister of his own church.
The digital era opens novel opportunities for innovation and experimentation along with increased demands for interactivity. The artistic struggle to pressurize unknown visual languages in the most collaborative of mediums is Franco's "just do it" raison de entrée: quantum entanglement. Film narratives must be engaging to master the trick of involving the viewer as participant in a third space. As such leaps can only be achieved through still undetermined measures for success, the quest laid bare at 65. Berlinale collapsed former hierarchies.
Seasoned auteurs and novice filmmakers were competing alike under these new rules of engagement. Not surprisingly, the time duration to make a no-to-low budget film with unknown outcomes offered more opportunities for quantum effects.
For example, Werner Herzog entered a big arena to take on a new challenge, directing women and thereby attempting to integrate internal states of emotion with the external landscape. His epic script transformed the adventurer Gertrude Bell from tragic lover into the Ubermensch kingmaker of the Arabian desert, a modern rendering of the ancient myth.
Ironically, it was Franco's star turn as the doomed suitor of Bell (Nicole Kidman) that made this erstwhile Hollywood vehicle inadvertently reflect the trap befalling even the most iconoclast of auteur filmmakers seeking quantum effects while working within the Hollywood star system, or what remains of it. (Film still of "Queen of the Desert" stars Nicole Kidman & James Franco © 2013 QOTD Film Investment Ltd.)
Serendipity resulting from unexpected entanglements was broadcast in prize selections in the jury headed by American director Darren Aronofsky, perfectly cast as the shaman pointing filmmaking in this new mathematical direction: the third path between opposites.
The 65the edition Jury President Darren Aronofsky (in cap) with his international jury (L-R): Chinese fIlmmaker Bong Joon-ho; American producer Martha DeLaurentis; filmmaker/producer/writer Matthew Weiner; actress Audrey Tautou; filmmaker Claudia Llosa; and German actor Daniel Bruhl (Photo by LPS).
As with the earlier two films made under the confinement of house arrest, Golden Bear winner Jafar Panahi inserted himself into the role of protagonist. As the literal driver of "Taxi", the filmmaker shared the screen with unexpected daily acts of entanglement shifting the narrative into the realm of everyday magic.
Panahi's quantum entanglement with his niece Hana Saeidi desire to make her own film via her intervention (above) in his filmmaking had the quantum effect of her appearing on stage in Berlin to accept his prize. Shattering the boundary between film narrative and life is a triumph of spirit over ego repression, externalized by the repressive Iranian state. ("Taxi" film still by director Jafar Panahi)
It was fitting that the Silver Bear for Best Director be shared between a man (Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude for his picaresque "Aferim!", a Balkan western revealing historical origins of contemporary racial strife) and a woman (Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska for "Body"), because gender was a key theme that everyone was trying not to talk about at the 65th Berlinale.
"Body" as staging ground for a new feminine spirit: Szumowska's narrative search for a visual language for a spiritual awakening in her native Poland. Treating the subject of the body with unexpected dark humor, her story opened with a man departing from the scene of his hanging. But this too was a message of the cycle of entanglement reflecting the 65 Berlinale as a whole. ("Body" film still of Justyna Suwała & Maja Ostaszewska © Jacek Drygała)
Patricio Guzman, with his collaborator wife (above), weaves an intricate narrative web tracing the archeology of a pearl button to the struggle of the indigenous. The documentary envelops the viewer through a quantum leap into cyclical time as the antidote to a planet hurtling towards destruction through the deterministic forces of the patriarchy.
"Filmmaking is dangerous," said the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner, Pablo Larrain, whose unrelenting "El Club" exposes the contradictions of the Catholic Church in his native Chile. (Photo by LPS)
Jayro Bustamante was awarded the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize for a feature film that opens new perspectives. His "Ixcanul Volcano" connects the internal struggle with the invisible kundalini energy to serpents against a social backdrop diminishing the feminine power through the opposing forces of colonialism and folk superstition.
Bustamante, here with his actresses Maria Mercedes Coroy and Mira Teon, takes us inside the heart of his native Guatemala, in which language became a crucial narrative device as well as a "third space" for entanglement. (Photo by LPS)
Sebastian Shipper's "Victoria" enthralled audiences with a multidimensional narrative shot in a single take, his cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grovien sharing the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution with...
...Evgeniy Privin and Sergey Mikhalchuk's "Pod electricheskimi oblakami" (Under Electric Clouds), a mesmerizing avant-garde Russian collaboration integrating poetic narrative with an exploration of the role of art in the face of apocalypse.
Alexey German Jr. 's "Under Electric Clouds" is a word/image marriage of moving poetic painting encapsulated by a circular narrative. A rebirth arising out of the death of the emptiness of contemporary art leaves hope for renewal in those who maintain the struggle, a reflection of the filmmakers and their nearly decade-long project. ("Pod electricheskimi oblakami/Under Electric Clouds" film still)
Fittingly, the closing competition screening was the Japanese director Sabu, who had the clearest vision of bringing the human reflection of the quibit to the screen. Adapting his novel, "Ten No Chasuke" (Chasuke's Journey), Sabu infused the taboo avant-garde subject of spirituality with humor in the story of a tea server to the "screenwriters" in heaven moved to come down to earth to save a woman from dying.
Adapting his own novel, Sabu's "Ten No Chasuke" had a clear vision of quantum entanglement as a means of collapsing linear time in film, resulting in a unique vision of the sacred marriage: lovers literally suspended between heaven & earth. (Still of Ken'ichi Matsuyama & Ito Ohno © BANDAI VISUAL, SHOCHIKU AND OFFICE KITANO)
Quantum entanglement necessitates the collapse of linear time, bringing forth the serendipity and magic of the cyclical, a narrative that Wenders explored...
...directly through dance in his first venture into 3-D with "Pina", in the retrospective. (Film still photo of Dominique Mercy, Thusnelda Mercy, Clémentine Deluy by Donata Wenders, © Wim Wenders Stiftung 2014)
For novice and experienced filmmakers, making the leap requires making bold choices in original experiments with narrative structure, that often arises through a personal immersion in the script as a descent into the mythical.
Kidlat Tahimik, winner of the Caligari Film Prize for his "Balikbayan #1 Memories of Overdevelopment Redux III", at the Arsenale with the altar of his extensive media archeology of Magellan's attempted circunambular of the globe as metaphor for the paradigm shift into cyclical time of the indigenous peoples.
Transforming a linear journey across the border into a multilayered engagement between two cultures. Gabriel Ripstein, scion of a famous Mexican film family, won Best First Feature Award for his "600 Miles". (Photo of Ripstein, center, with his producers, Michel Franco & Moises Zonana by LPS)
Oliver Hirschbiegel's historical account of Germany's first terrorist act against Hitler was made riveting through the use of torture as a narrative device. "Elser: 13 Minutes" is all the more pertinent by the timeliness of the acute archeological detail resurrecting a lone individual acting against the oppressive homogenization of the system. (Film still photo of Burghart Klaußner, Christian Friedel & Johann von Bülow © Lucky Bird Pictures, Bernd Schuller)
The collapse of linear time made for a leap into sacred marriage as a cross-section of the vertical/hierarchical and the horizontal horizon.
"Knight of Cups" multidimensional view of a thirsty Los Angeles: Terrence Malick's overflowing voice within a loosely improvised linear narrative had Christian Bale's character on a spiritual quest to revisit past projections. Symbols such as elevators and yoga hand positions were incorporated with contained/uncontained bodies of water and desert views as narrative devices collapsing hierarchical/linear time into the eternal cyclical of myth. (Photo of Christian Bale & Natalie Portman by Melinda Sue Gordon © Dogwood Pictures)
Provocateur Peter Greenaway redefined film narrative as an erotically charged penetration into the opposites centered by human intercourse. The heavenly descent into the body via the marriage of Thanatos & Eros was energized through the juxtaposition of archival material with performance into painterly triptychs and the incorporation of platonic forms into dynamic movement as narrative device. (Photo by LPS)
Greenaway's "Eisenstein in Guanajuato" infused the medium with the multi-dimensional injection of kundalini viscerally collapsing of time and space into a bold vision of the cyclical life/death/rebirth journey resurrecting the great Russian filmmaker. (Film still of actor Elmer Bäck)
The last frontier is the inner journey, particularly if the sex is female. Lessons learned: the last taboo subjects for film--spirituality and feminine awakening--succeed as quantum engagement if approached with humor. This year's cinematic experiments provided such rich fare as food for thought for the quantum leap that the 65th Berlinale will undoubtedly remain with us for years to come.
Entangled Silver Bears Marking the 65. Berlinale EVENT of quantum entanglement into the THIRD: Best Actress/Actor winners: Charlotte Rampling, trumphant from her own journey of descent and resurrection, with her co-star Tom Courtenay of Andrew Haigh's "45 Years" (Photo by LPS)
Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a theorist and Ph.D. candidate based in Berlin writing a longer text about her 65. Berlinale quantum experience.
All film stills and photographs of the films courtesy of 65th Berlinale.