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Once upon a time hollywood press conf.

The Joker Coming October.


The 70th Berlinale International Film Festival will be held from February 20 to March 1, 2020.
Our team of festival ambassadors and reporters bring you the dailies from the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market and keep an eye on past editions archives. WATCH OUR VIDEO COVERAGE TRAILERS INTERVIEWS AND AMBIANCE   PHOTOS

#berlinale I Berlinale 2019 I  Berlinale 2018Berlinale 2017 coverage I Berlinale  2016 I Berlinale 2015 I  Berlinale 2014 I 




More Berlin Reviews from Alex Deleon

By Alex Deleon

A City Hunts for a Murderer, and a Forum film hunts for meaning.


"M, A City Hunts a Murderer" ~ Viewed at ZOO Palast, 2,

Based on the classic Fritz Lang classic of 1931, "M" with Peter Lorre.


Two TV Installments.  In this avatar the tale of a child molester and killer hated by all, pursued by both the police and the Underworld, is transposed to current day Vienna in the middle of a colorful snowy winter, and much is made of the sticky ongoing Immigrant issue. (What else can you expect with all these undesirable slobs flooding our country?)

With stars such as Udo Kier (the weird balloon clown, probably the killer) and Moritz Bleibtreu.  Snow throughout. The kid disappears early and the hunt is on. Starkly photographed and sharply acted, but sadly, no closure.  At the end we're still looking fir the killer and hungering to see more. When will they show part 3?

Following this we segue to a party at Sony Center guided by spritely Millie Zhou of the Beijing film festival. On the way out in the same building. I decide to check out a late film I know nothing about but have a ticket for, at Cinestar 8 in the bargain basement.

Serepentário.  Portugal. Director, Carlos Conceição, Writer, Carlos Conceição.  Stars, Isabel Abreu, João Arrais, and Carlos Conceição

A young man drifts through a post-disaster African landscape looking for his mother's ghost.

The film in question is a Forum entry in Portuguese entitled  Serpentario, for no reason I could fathom except that it snakes and wriggles around various disconnected subjects without making much sense.   Director, Carlos Conceição, writer, actor, (39). is a native of Angola, a former Portuguese colony in Southwest Africa.

The picture starts promisingly with a helicopter sweeping over a beautiful red desert of sharp ridges and luscious sand dunes. A Portuguese voice over with English subtitles informs us that a woman from Portugal has decided in her old age to go back to her native land of barren mountains (Angola) and her son is on a quest to track down her soul, or ghost, or something of that nature.  The chopper sets down in the middle of nowhere, a young man gets out and starts walking. We are now next to a long straight highway stretching out to infinity. Some cars come by but it's not exactly a heavily traveled road and Hitchcock fans might expect a crop duster biplane to appear out of the lonely sky but there are no crops to dust, only endless sand.  Eventually a car stops and picks out hero up and a long dreamlike journey commences.

This soon becomes an  abstract philosophical study of a young man, maybe twenty, walking expressionlessly through  many different unconnected landscapes, with only a small back pack while searching for, among other things, maybe the meaning of life. (Or, more likely, reason for making a movie)

There is no storyline, as such, merely slow going with changes of scenery every now and then having little or no connection one with the other.  The disappeared mother wants him to take care of a bird that lives for 150 years after she dies. But maybe she's already dead. Among the scenes; stony desert with many rusting automobile carcasses, an African tribe  that knows they will be colonized for 500 years, many Sunsets over the desert,  hulls of abandoned ships by a waterway.  Voice over Messages are intoned such as, "Everybody  is getting ready for tomorrow but the next day doesn't know you exist" ~~ Aha. very profound.

Some of the images are pretty but the entirety is disjointed, and pointless and it all soon becomes one long yawn. Something like following the free associations of a college sophomore  in a random walk through a wattled mind. Many walkouts soon ensue, my own among them. But the majority seemed to think they were watching a great work of art  and remained  rooted to their seats as if hypnotized in the vast Cinemaxx 8 auditorium

The sum effect of this Opus Delirium is like a slow moving Rohrshack Test. See in it what you will. I didn't see anything I would want to tell my local head shrink about. I actually walked out of it twice.  The first time I realized I'd left my scarf behind and went back  to retrieve it. Watched a little more then saw that it was getting even more pointless so I gave  it a second walkout. The Forum section tends to spotlight more off beat or experimental films from fledgling directors. The kind that are not for every taste -- if for any taste. Serpentario was a perfect example. Here is an added scene that might have made sense...

Wikipedia clarification:


Serpentinite is a rock composed of one or more serpentine group minerals, the name originating from the similarity of the texture of the rock to that of the skin of a snake.


Gully Boy, My Time Will Come. 

From India, directed by Zoya Akhtar.(46) starring Ranveer Singh

This rousing picture seems to be pointing Bollywood in a new direction away from the Masala formula loaded with often irrelevant mass dance numbers and focussing on the lives of the wealthy upper classes. "Gully" is a common  Hindi word for 'street' from which the less common English word "gulley" is derived and immediately informs viewers to get ready for something different. 

Set in the infamous Mumbai slum of Dharavi Gully Boy is in a way a local response to Danny Boyle's 2008 world wide success "Slumdog Millionaire", focusing, of all things, on the recent Indian craze for Hop Hop and Rap music emerging in the slums of the city, and the lives of the slum dwellers.

Murad, a 22-year-old youngster in an Islamic ghetto family (Ranveer Singh), knows he has a way with words and dreams of making it in the rapper world but only as a composer because he is too shy to take the stage himself.  He us encouraged by successful rapper, Sher, (the Lion)  to mouth his own words at the mike and is warmly received. Eventually he will enter an aggressive Rapper duel with an enormous cash prize for the winner.  Meanwhile his ultra conservative father takes a dim view of Murad's ambitions and demands that he follow up an education to be a white collar worker and stay in his place.

Needless to say, in the end Murad  will triumph but not before the obstacles of poverty and resignation to lower classness have been overcome.  His feisty girlfriend (Alia Bhatt) provides him with moral support.  At 33 Ranveer is maybe a little long in the tooth to play such a youngster but he has charisma to burn and pulls it off with restraint and verve.  With this off beat role he has clearly established himself as the leading actor in Bollywood.   SRK move over.  And you do not need to be a hip hop fan to get on this swift roller coaster of a ride and enjoy it to the max.  Not in competition Gully Boy was nevertheless a rousing experience, feel-good in its own way,  and one of the better films seen at this festival

Zoya Akhtar, stemming from a prominent Indian film family, is not only the only major female director in Bollywood, but one if its very smartest, most effective and most skillful. A leading figure of the new Bollywood until now totally male dominated.

Marighella, (Brazil) the debut feature of popular actor Wagner Moura, is a powerful and extremely violent study of the late career of opposition leader Carlos Marighella during the military dictatorship that lasted in Brazil from 1964 to 1985.  Marighella, a charismatic black writer and revolutionary inspired by Che Guevara,  was a controversial figure viewed as a hero by the majority opposition but a Communist threat by the right wing government and their supporters. Because of the strong anti-Communist stance of the ruling junta the United States supported them and sent high level representatives to Brazil, which we see in the film.  While this film claims not to take a political position but merely to relate certain aspects of personal lives during the first years of the junta regime  it is clear that director Moura sees Marighella in a positive light and the junta, with their extreme brutality and torture of victims, as definitely the bad guys.  Nor are the Americans seen in a particularly flattering light. The film follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Marighella , his friends, and his family, from the coup of 1964 until his assassination in 1969.

Marighella is most convincingly portrayed by leading Brazilian actor Seu Jorge who was last seen here in 2004 in a small tole The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Check our notes from the press conference given during Berlinale

This was a world première here and has not yet been released in Brazil.  

American born Actor Brian Townes, who plays an American CIA agent in the film, informed me that Marighella may encounter opposition if not outright censorship back home because the liberal government under which the film was made has now been replaced by another extreme rightist regime which is likely once again to take a very dim view of Marighella as popular hero.





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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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