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The 73rd Berlin International Film Festival will take place from Thu, Feb 16, 2023 - Sun, Feb 26, 2023
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Berlin 62 Off and Running with Jolie's Genocide Crusade and an extravagant Indian Godfather


by Alex Deleon
The 62nd Berlinale opened this afternoon for early arriving journalists even before the Opening Gala which will be held tonight 
with two special press screenings. First up was the rousing Bollywood actioner ''DON 2, The King Is Back'' starring The King of 
Bollywood himself, Shah Rukh Khan, and this was followed by the much anticipated Angela Jolie directed Bosnian War drama, 
''Land of Blood and Hone'' (Zemlja Krvi a Mjod),  in which the actress does not herself appear, but is, in fact, an entirely Bosnian-Serbian language film with an all Yugoslav cast, and a good professional one at that. 


The Bollywood film was, to say the least, Way over the Top ''but, if the viewer is willing to suspend all belief in critical faculties,
was lots of fun and especially topological for Berlin audiences, since most of the action is actually set right here in Berlin at many recognizable Berlin locations. Since I happen to be very partial to Bollywood films -- and especially partial to former Miss World Priyanka Chopra (who is beautifully miscast in this as a tenacious Interpol policewoman), I  cannot speak for my more discerning colleagues of the criticism industry, other than to say that I had a good time watching this super-charged comic book version of a proactive Indian Godfather, and, at the end, felt that it probably delivered everything that an Indian audience would be expecting of it in terms of thrills, spills, (Shahrukh jumping off of the 37th story of a Berlin Building!) exotic foreign locations, (French Riviera, Thailand, Malaysia, and Berlin) beautiful woman in revealing backless gowns, (Priyanka and Lara dutta) and loads of comic one-liners written by director Farhan Akhtar and his father, the famous Bollywood dialogue master, Javed Akhtar.

There have been daily reports on the Berlin press reporting on the on-again off-again appearance of King Shahrukh. The first report said he had canceled his trip due to a sudden bout of the flu, then the next day a small item metioned that SRK would not disappoint his Berlin  fans and was coming after all. In any case a mob of shivering fans stood at the roped off side street of the Grand Hyatt Hotel where the stars hop out of a car and into the buiding for their press conferences, just hoping to catch a glimpse for a few seconds of their Bollywood idols. The big show is tonight when DON 2 opens at the Friedrich Stadt Palast theater where another red carpet will be rolled out upon which it is hoped that the SRK, Bollywood Don himself will tread in the flesh. After all, the show must go on.


As for the Jolie opus, there were mixed reactions by press people who had seen her on the American TV talk show circuit, such as Albert Milgrom, Minneapolis Festival honcho, who thought the script was terrible and everything else about it was unconvincing, especially the mercurial changes in the attitudes of the Serbian Captain toward his love slave, a Bosnian Moslem woman whom he finally kills.  I myself, going in cold so to speak, not having followed any of the advance press promotion or demotion, can only say that I found it gripping, but so devastatingly cruel in spots  that I was wondering where Ms. Jolie was coming from, and was on the verge of walking out at several more appalling points in the action, for example when a Bosnian infant is thrown out of a window by Serbian soldiers just for kicks. The tenor of the film is set very quickly when there is a lineup of Bosnian woman and a call for people with nursing abilities. One poor young woman speaks up pleading that she can sew, to which the Serbian office in charge responds with, "How bout fucking (Jebati) --do you know how to fuck? --whereupon he seizes her props her up on a wooden stand, pulls down his pants and brutally rapes her, doggie fashion from behind, before the utterly terrorized faces of the other women looking on. This is only a small harbinger of things to come as numerous other rapes and assorted atrocities pile up in no special order until the viewer has been bludgeoned into numbness. Hard to believe the director was a female unless one realizes that some females have a more acute feel for brutality and cruelty than many males. 

Ms. Jolie's overt intention with this film is to remind people forcefully of an act of genocide that took place in recent memory right on our European doorstep so to speak, but has been more or less forgotten and swept under the rug in the wake of more directly relevant events such as 9/11 and its aftermath. Nevertheless, although the decimation of the Bosnian Moslems by the Christian Serbs was termed ''ethnic cleansing'', this was nothing but a euphemism for mass murder of civilians and this is one of the most brutal movies I have ever sat through but I somehow felt it was my duty to suffer till the end, which I did. 

A set of final titles informed viewers among other things that this was the bloodiest conflict in Europe since the end of WWII and that only after this grim episode in recent European history was rape officially put on the list of ''Crimes against Humanity'' 

Angela Jolie is scheduled to hold a press conference here with an entourage of Serbian thespians who participated in the film.


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Chatelin Bruno

Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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