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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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German shocker raises press and viewer hackles n Berlin

On the eve of Valentine's day -- the day traditionally dedicated to pure and innocent love -- a new German film dedicated to the unadulterated portrayal of violent, sadistic, psychotic, serial rape, and to the proposition that such rapists are incurably deranged, sent shock waves through an audience composed of around 1,000 press reps in the grand festival hall, and evoked a bedlam of boos and catcalls. The title of the film (in competition this year) is "Die Freie Wille" (Free Will) and the director, or perpetrator, of this exercise in outrage is Matthias Glasner. The film starts with the release from prison, after serving a nine year sentence, of Theo, an incurable serial rapist, who then loses no time getting back into action.
Ten minutes into the film the horror begins. In his car the "hero" stalks a young woman on a bicycle sporting an exposed midriff. He gets out, pulls her off her bike, ties her up with bandages, blindfolds her and begins beating her brutally in the face. He then pulls her pants down as well as his own, masturbates over her body wriggling on the ground then rapes her for good measure. He finally lets her go, still bound and blindfolded whereupon she stumbles over an embankment crashing into a tree stump. Lingering close-up of her bloodied, mud covered countenance. This terrifying scene goes on for some ten minutes. Without going into all the gory details an equally violent rape scene ensues where a woman rapes the hero's girlfriend in the Water Closet. The graphic violence continues to pile up until Theo, realizing himself that he is a hopeless case of dementia sexualia, graphically slashes his wrists (with oddles of blood on the screen) and falls into his girlfriend's arms as he croaks. Most viewers who stuck this orgy of blood and violence out to the bitter end were appalled and greeted the end titles with a heavy chorus of boos and assorted German epithets. The critical press was, to say the least, divided -- apparently there were some journalists around who thought "Free Will" was a statement about the incurability of sex maniacs and/or, had some redeeming philosophical features. The German papers this morning were, however, pretty much united in condemnation. Actor Jürgen Vogels, who played Theo, said that he felt totally schizophrenic while doing the job, but felt that it had to be done.

Other than this extremely controversial screening, it has generally been business as usual during the first week of this 56th instalment of the Berlin film festival with the usual parade of stars and celebrities. At the opening night gala a glorious looking Sigourney Weaver in a gleaming green
tres décolleté gown wowed her fans while introducing the opening film, "Snow Cake" in which she stars. Meryl Streep has shown up to promote her latest film, Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion". Other big names from Hollywood in attendance this year include, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Milla Jovovich, and Natalie Portman representing "V For Vendetta", by the Wachowski brothers of "Matrix" fame. Notes on these films will follow as we catch up with them.

by Chaim Pevner, Berlin

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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