Posted on Friday February 13, 2009, 14:07 by Damon Wise
As Berlin rumbles to a close, I've quite concerned to hear pretty much no sounds of anything even vaguely equating enthusiasm coming from the Potsdamer Platz region. I can't even say that the films getting a controversial reception have made me want to be there, these being Lukas Moodysson's Mammoth, Andrew Bujalski's Beeswax, Francois Ozon's Ricky and Mitchell Lichtenstein's Happy Tears.
Stories are trickling in about the films turned down, and if this story is to believed, they turned down Sundance winner Push. In some ways, I can see why, but despite the shonky direction and the Oprah book club feelgood factor, there's no denying the power of the last ten minutes, when bad mother (no pun intended) Mo'Nique gives her side of the story. Unusually, it seems to me that Berlin and Sundance may have switched places in this respect – Sundance used to be the place to go to for PC sermonising, but this year, according to Shane Danielsen in this piece at indieWIRE, Berlin has the bleedin' obvious in spades while Sundance went for shades of grey this year (I must admit that I pissed myself when I heard that Sally Potter was castigating the fashion world in her new film Rage. I've been on one of that woman's sets, and she was NOT wearing jeans and a T-shirt).
Personally, I think Lone Scherfig's terrific An Education (Lone, along with some of her cast, is pictured above) set an interesting precedent this year. It may be the first European film to properly launch at Sundance (I don't have a long memory on this, but it strikes me that it's certainly the first in the last eight years). I remember being dismissive of the World Cinema Competition there, back when it first started in earnest, but I have to admit that it's starting to find a purpose, particularly if you can launch there, generate press, ideally find an American buyer and then do your rest-of-the-world business in Berlin (interestingly, Scherfig's film is also showing out of competition there).
Anyway, that's not to say it's all doom and gloom. Stephen Frears' Cheri has had decent notices, as has Rachid Bouchareb's London River, and it seems Bertrand Tavernier's troubled In The Electric Mist didn't turn out so bad according to this report.
Hopefully I'll be getting some tips over the weekend. In the meantime, this piece from Screen International made me yearn for Cannes....