With Europe facing the greatest migration challenge since World War 2, it is probably no wonder that this was the hottest point of debate at Berlinale this year. No sooner had the festival started that at the press conference for Hail, Caesar!, the very first of the festival, a journalist bluntly interpellated George Clooney on his reasons for not having already joined in the humanitarian effort of solving Europe’s greatest migration crisis. What’s keeping him? !
The question was so out of context and came so out of left field (the irony of language in this case!) that it left George a bit baffled. However, after a few seconds of silence, his retort came down like thunder: Could the journalist kindly explain what concrete efforts she had made in solving said crisis?! And the ensuing dispute mixing art, film and politics to an extremely confusing effect went on for a while and set the tone for the entire 10 days: Berlinale 2016 – a very politically-charged festival. (Coincidentally, Clooney did have a meeting arranged with Angela Merkel the following day to discuss the refugee crisis, reports The Guardian).
Which is not to insinuate that this year’s Golden Bear winner, Gianfranco Rosi’s Lampedusa-set Fuocoammare was not a completely deserved win. Focusing more on the Forum and Panorama titles, I only managed to see the film at the festival’s Closing Ceremony and was taken in by the precocious wisdom and vital charm of the central protagonist and the exceptional skill he shows at continually adapting to a conflicted world. Although a documentary, the film plays very much like a drama and will undoubtedly seduce with the understated urgency of its political message .
BERLINALE 2016 highlights and interviews:
1. Interview with Isabelle Huppert
2. Interview with Mia Hansen-Love
BORIS SANS BEATRICE
3. Interview with Denis Côté
4. Interview with Anne Zohra Berrached
5. Remainder – Omer Fast Interview
6. Starve Your Dog – Hicham Lasri Interview
7. I, Olga Hepnarova – Tomas Weinreb Interview
From PANORAMA DOCUMENTS
8. Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures – Randy Barbato & Fenton Bailey Interview in Dazed & Confused
10. YARD – Måns Månsson Interview
111. KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE – Robert Greene & Kate Lyn Sheil Interview
12. P.S.JERUSALEM – Danae Elon Interview
13. WE ARE NEVER ALONE – Petr Vaclav Interview
15. TA’ANG – Wang Bing Interview
16. FANTASTIC – Offer Egozy Interview
17. MELLOW MUD – Renārs Vimba Interview
Perspektive Deutsches Kino
18. LIEBMANN – Jules Herrmann Interview (best Berlinale 2016 film discovery!)