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The film programme of the Berlin Critics’ Week 2020


Tracing how elegance pertains to nocturnal fantasies and to African-American images of the past. Or how a local fight against all odds relates to the fleeting moments of youth. And then distances collapse: a techno sect encounters fragmented experiences from Bielefeld. The film programme of the 6th Berlin Critics’ Week is complete.

Baptism in "America" © 2019
Can elegance function as a political concept? "Los Fantasmas", Sebastián Lojo's directorial debut, is a fluidly coherent vision of a young man who roams the nights of Guatemala City, sometimes sleeping with men for money, sometimes seducing tourists. His experiences, which Lojo translates into an elegantly choreographed milieu drama, are coupled with the pictorial associations of Garrett Bradley's "America" in a double bill. This short film turns film history into a filter through which to observe and interpret the present. The director places fragments from Bert Williams' "Lime Kiln Club Field Day" (1913), which was rediscovered in 2014, alongside emancipatory re-enactments of key moments from the African-American past. Under the thematic heading Unreal Elegance, following the screenings we want to explore the relationship between stylistic confidence and knowledge, and between knowledge and lived experience. We discuss graceful and beautiful cinema that doesn’t have to reflect reality and yet cannot shine without a conscious connection to the world.

"My Punch-Drunk Boxer" is Jung Hyuk-ki's first feature, which cheerfully integrates the classic trope of a fight against all odds within a vibrant tale about a globally neglected province. "The most Korean is the most universal," quotes the protagonist. A film as casually concerned with the global visibility of Korean cinema as it is with the search for a personal filmmaking style and rhythm. Leonor Teles’ "Dogs Barking at Birds" kicks off the evening. Gentrification haunts the dialogues of this short film; fear and tradition soon join in. Within this context, all the youth can claim is the instant – just like the people on stage following the screening: on this evening, two critics again react to the films. This time we’re not asking any questions, all we ask for is disagreement.

Valentina Pedicini had already accompanied an Italian sect and followed its activities for years before shooting “Faith”. Kung Fu. Techno. Discussions. Discipline. Children become soldiers. The result is a stylised documentary about the belief in a cinema that enables individual self-fulfilment. The sect quarrels with its leader; the film’s director searches for truth and myth. Under the heading Collapsing Distance, the film meets a short work by Luise Donschen, "Entire Days Together ", filmed by Helena Wittmann. The title says it all: experience is gained, a summer develops, a community of teens is portrayed. Deconstruction emerges as an act of documentary invention. Together with these films, we broach questions regarding documentary approaches, surprising intimacies and the cinematic drafting of world designs.

Members of the programming team

In appointing its selection committee, the Critics’ Week follows the principle of a rotating programming team. This year, in addition to founding members Dunja Bialas, Frédéric Jaeger and Dennis Vetter, Devika Girish and Daniela Persico participated in the film selection. The film programme of the Critics’ Week is not put together through submissions, but is actively researched by the programming team.

Devika Girish

Devika Girish is a New York–based film critic and the Assistant Editor at Film Comment. Her writing also appears in The New York Times, BFI, The Village Voice, Reverse Shot, MUBI's Notebook, and other publications. Devika grew up in India and moved to the United States to study film and semiotics at Brown University. She also has a Master's in Specialized Arts Journalism from the University of Southern California. She is an alum of the 2017 New York Film Festival Critics' Academy and the 2019 Berlinale Talent Press.

Daniela Persico

Film critic and curator from Milan. Since 2012, she has been curating L'immagine e la parola, the spring offshoot of the Locarno Film Festival, and has been a member of Locarno’s selection committee since 2019. She is founder and editor-in-chief of the online quarterly Filmidee and is also in charge of the Filmidee Summer School in Sardinia. She is also a member of the selection committee of the IsReal Festival in Nuoro.

The 6th Critics’ Week will take place from 19 to 27 February 2020. The film programme starts on Thursday, February 20 at the Hackesche Höfe cinema.

All films of the 6th Berlin Critics’ Week

Dir: Garrett Bradley, US 2019, 29 min. – German premiere
Dir: Oliver Bassemir, DE/FR 2019, 10 min. – World premiere

Dir: Silvia Maglioni, Graeme Thomson, FR/GR 2019, 84 min. – German premiere
Dir: Leonor Teles, PT 2019, 20 min. – German premiere
Dir: Luise Donschen, DE 2019, 23 min. – German premiere
Dir: Valentina Pedicini, IT 2019, 94 min. – German premiere
Dir: Salka Tiziana, DE/ES/CH 2020, 71 min.

Dir: Ivana Mladenović, RO/SRB 2019, 86 min. – German premiere
Dir: Sebastián Lojo, GT/AR 2020, 75 min. – German premiere
Dir: Abba Makama, NG 2019, 92 min. – German premiere
Dir: Luis Arnías, VE/US 2020, 12 min. – World premiere
Dir: Jung Hyuk-ki, KOR 2019, 115 min. – International premiere
Dir: Affonso Uchôa, BR/AR 2019, 42 min. – German premiere

The Berlin Critics’ Week is an event of the German Film Critics Association, funded by the Capital Cultural Fund and the Stiftung Kulturwerk der VG Bild-Kunst. The opening conference will be held in cooperation with Theaterdiscounter Berlin.


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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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