Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Berlin & Beyond:
'Barbara', 'Faust' & Mario Adorf

The 17th edition of the Berlin & Beyond film festival kicks off tomorrow night, and this year's slate of German-language films and related events promises many pleasures for cineastes in the Bay Area. A few highlights pique my interest.

The opening night feature is "Barbara", pictured, directed by Christian Petzold, which won the Silver Bear Best Film award at the Berlin film festival in January and is Germany's submission for an Oscar nomination as best foreign language film. Here's a synopsis from the program notes:

Set in the East Germany in 1980, Barbara continues Christian Petzold’s engagement with Germanys East and West. The film follows its eponymous protagonist, played by Petzold regular Nina Hoss, as she is transferred from Berlin to a small-town clinic. The film hints at her recent imprisonment by East-German authorities, apparently due to her attempts to flee to the west - - it is an imprisonment that has left her lonely, suspicious, and now reassigned to the “provinces.”

International star Mario Adorf, whose entry states he's acted in more than 200 films and TV dramas in Europe and the U.S., is in town to receive the festival's Lifetime Achievement honor on Friday evening in-person from the stage of the Castro Theatre. 

Four films starring Adorf will be shown as part of the tribute to his enormous talents starting with his latest effort "The Rhino and the Dragonfly", continuing with "Lola" directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a West German movie from 1959 titled "Ship of the Dead" and Volker Schlondorf's Oscar-winning classic "The Tin Drum". Except for "Lola", which unspools at the Goethe Institute, all Adorf movies will be shown at the Castro Theatre.

The print of "The Tin Drum" to be exhibited is newly-struck and is the director's cut version. Many fans of this masterpiece recall with regret the print that was shown here about three-years ago, badly faded and with green spots in several sections. Thankfully, that is not the print that will be shown.

The San Francisco Film Society and the Pacific Film Archive are co-presenters of "The Tin Drum", and it plays on Saturday night.

Also on Friday night, the new film from Russia's Alexandr Sokurov and with legendary actress Hanna Schygulla in a supporting role, "Faust", pictured, screens at 9 PM. Many American film lovers are familiar with Sokurov's films that have received distribution here including "Russian Ark" and the sublime "Mother and Son".

This is one director whose every new work deserves to be seen, regardless of critical or audience reception.

"Faust" was honored with the prestigious Golden Lion award at last year's Venice film festival. I'm sure it's as rich and rewarding as his other compelling films, especially "Moloch" and "The Sun", that enjoyed popular sold-out screenings when they played at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Details from the festival guide:

A modern depiction of the classic tale, Alexander Sokurov’s version of Faust puts an eerie and surreal spin on the story of the skeptical doctor who sold his soul to the devil for knowledge. Taking a step away from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s popular telling, Sokurov explores through his own perspective humanity’s struggle with concepts of power and love. 

Click here for info on every film in the festival and associated events including opening and closing night parties, and how to purchase advance tickets. See you at Berlin & Beyond!

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