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Films by famous directors in the over-seventy five category include “Kabei – Our Mother” by Japanese old master Yamada Yoji (third time in Berlin with a competition film), and the Polish non-competition entry “Katyn” by 80 year old  director Andrzej Wajda who has been a familiar figure in Berlin over the years and was warded a Life Work career Golden Bear here three years ago.  The Katyn film dealing with the mass murder of Polish Prisoners of war in WWII by the Russians which was  cynically blamed on the Germans and covered up for decades afterward, created quite a sensation in Poland when it came out there in September but this will be its first unvieling at a major international film festival. 

Among an enticing slate of sidebar events are two retrospectives of distinguished twentieth century directors, Spaniard Luis Bunuel, who died in 1983 at the age of 83, and Italian director Francesco Rosi who was born in 1922 and is still around – in fact, Mr. Rosi, now 85,  will be coming around to Berlin to present some of his films.  The Bunuel retro is a complete  review of all of his films starting with the immortal “Andalusian Dog” (1931) which starts out with a scene of an eyeball being sliced in half with a razor blade –brrrr… and covering all of his Mexican and French works.  Rosi is a director who unflinchingly attacked the Maffia, the petroleum industry,  and every other form of corrupted power in films such as “Lucky Luciano”, “The Mattei Affair” and “Christ Stopped at Eboli”.  For those with a fine tuned palate there is a section of films involved with Cuisine (among them Bunuel’s “Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie” which has a long dinner scene) which will be coupled with a gourmet food tasting following each projection. Sounds like a tasty dish to me.  

Among films centering on music is "Trip to Asia", a documentary following the Berlin Philharmonic to Japan under the baton of that man with the outstanding crown of unmistakable gray curls, British star conductor Simon Rattle.  And in the realm of cinema curiosities, an iconic singing dancing pop star turns to directing a feature film. The name of the flick is "Filth and Wisdom" and the first time director is none other than Luise Ciccone, better known as "Madonna".  I asked a German journalist, who has already seen it, if it was at all interesting, and his considered assessment was,"It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be".  Looks like it's going to be an interesting ten days with maybe a few bumps and grinds here and there. Please fasten your seat belts and stay tuned.     Alex in Berlin.                -----------------------------------------------------------------------

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THE FESTIVALS BLOG by Alex Deleon. Watch for festival coverage from the circuit.

Ambiance and reviews from the hot spots. Welcoming your comments too.

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