Andreas Dresen, “Summer in Berlin”: Love from the Balcony
Summer in Berlin.Could love go beyond times and overcome the routine? From a comfortable balcony, two close girlfriends think about men and their eventful lives. Katrin is a divorced mother and Nike takes care of old people. They live their personal misfortunes but in a practical way and without dramas.
All characters do their best to be and feel loved and desired. When Katrin is drunk, she calls her ex-husband. Nike tries to find in Ronald, a truck driver without aspirations, the right guy for her, the one she has always been waiting for. Max, weak son of Katrin, wants to get the heart of the sporty girl of his dreams. Ronald thinks he has already found someone that finally will stay with him. All of them are destined to fail, which we realize from the beginning. Despite this, all of them have no idea of what is going on and face, in an optimistic and perhaps even innocent way, their own destiny.
In their challenge to the routine, the girlfriends make again and again the same mistakes. In such a way, they seek for refuge in alcohol and sex, not on purpose. The old people whom Nike takes care of recall how deep some loves could be: love for music, for someone we love, for the school, for the coffee. Maybe Nike gets closer to them because they feed her hopes to find one everlasting love. In the meantime, Katrin reminds us that sometimes we have to touch the floor in order to get up and go on. Then, their friendship is put to test when Ronald comes closer to Katrin. At the end of the story, both of them are going to know that everything in life can change but never their friendship.
In a tragic and comic way, Andreas Dresen tells the daily life with this simple story. This film is worth to be seen because of its quite honest writing. It won the price for the best script by Wolfgang Kohlhaase in the San Sebastian International Film Festival. (Flor Preciado)
Lucrecia Martel, “The Headless Woman”
Every one of us has passed through big problems, so big that they cannot stay in indifference. The other things seem to disappear, and we only can think in what we should solve, if there is any solution. For the other things we simply do not have a head.
Véronica is a woman who accidentally hits and kills a person. After several days trying to recover from this awful fact, she communicates her husband what happened. Together they decide to go the place, but only find a dead dog, what helps Vero feeling better. However, she discovers some days later that the body of a deceased person had been found in a river close to the place. The phantom tormenting our lead character appears again, and the only thing to do is to accept it.
The title of this movie — The Headless Woman (La mujer sin cabeza) — reflects the situation of our lead character: the impact produced by running someone over has been so strong that it does not allow her to think about something else. This is how it is difficult for her to integrate again to the world.
It is very interesting to analyze Véronica’s psychological profile before and after the accident. She belongs to an Argentinean upper-middle class, where some things are easier for her than for others, economically and socially. Nevertheless, not everybody has to bear the consciousness tho have murdered someone. Her world, using to spin around the appearances and the status, suddenly goes into the most human aspects, which our character does not seem to have explored frequently. It does not matter if nobody accuses her, or if her closest friends think she simply killed a dog; she bears this huge weight. Sometimes, she tries unconsciously to divert from this big problem. A good example is the scene where a young man works for her moving some pots from the car to the garden. Vero offers him several things, as food, clothes, a shower, but the young man denies everything in a dry way. Vero seems to be disappointed after each rejection: she cannot make up for the damage already done.
The Headless Woman shows an iInteresting depiction of society made by Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel, showing the difficult problem of not saying what is sometimes necessary. Then we end up alone because of the ridiculous fear of being more alone. (Ximena Esqueche)
Interview with Amat Escalante
We talked to Amat Escalante (born in Barcelona in 1979) about his latest film, The Bastards (Los bastardos), the story of two Mexican immigrants in the United States. The winner of several prizes for his short Amarrados (2002) and his first fiction film Sangre (2005) talks about his connection to the film, his inspirations and ideas.
How did you get the idea for The Bastards?
My father was an immigrant; he crossed the border illegally. The theme has always been a part of my life, so I always knew I was going to make a film about it based on the stories I heard.
I heard the war in Iraq was also an inspiration. Why?
Mostly in the way the use of violence depicts American society. I think the way the American press shows the war is very deceitful. They do not show the dead, the effects of violence and weapons, so I wanted to show that lie in my film.
Who inspires you?
I like very much Michael Haneke, Bruno Dumont, Gaspar Noé from the contemporaries. I also like Luís Buñuel and Werner Herzog.
Many people relate you constantly to another contemporary Mexican director, Carlos Reygadas. Are you personally affected by this comparison, or is he truly an influence?
Not at all. It would affect me if I had a bigger ego, but I’m not interested in that. He is helping me and we make films together (Mantarraya Productions), but I make movies which come from the inside, as does he, but I don’t think I should change my ideas to seem different from his. People who believe our movies are similar probably haven’t seen a lot of movies, because our styles aren’t new at all.
You have a constant way of treating sex in your movies: automatic and without morality. Is there an idea you want to transmit?
A lot has to do with the fact how the actors let themselves be filmed. It isn’t simple to do an erotic scene with actors who have no experience. So it’s important how they unfold their personalities on screen. My two films deal with people and how they live. Sex is sort of stylized by that, therefore it is not the kind of sex you’d find in Basic Instinct, for example, but rather an idea; each shot is an idea.
What effects do you want to gain with the long shots and silences?
I want it to look like there was nothing between the camera and the subject. In that way one feels to be a witness of what is happening. Without cuts or edits the spectator can be more involved.
Is The Bastards a protest movie? There are some clear references to American materialism — the boy with the gameboy, the contractor’s shoes.
I never thought of the film that way. It’s more of a political movie, about what I have felt and seen in America. It’s not so much a protest movie.
Having dealt with such a political subject, did you ever think about making a documentary?
Yes, but documentaries are very difficult to do; they need a lot of patience and relating with people. I had begun a documentary on immigration at the Cuban Film School but I did not finish it. But it is something that interests me very much for the future.
(Interview by Enrique Valdez)
Nestor Frenkel: “Construcción de una ciudad”
Is it possible to tell the life of a city in a little more of an hour and a half? Yes. An example of this is Construcción de una ciudad, third documentary by the Argentinean director Nestor Frenkel (born in Buenos Aires in 1971). In this movie we see the story of Federación, an Argentinean town situated in the north of the province of Entre Ríos. Through the inhabitants’ testimonies we see the different phases of this city, from its disappearance in the seventies because of a flood in the Salto Grande reservoir, through a phase of refoundation organized by the military government, until the present day.
Although the story is sort of tragic, Construcción de una ciudad is not a sad movie. The characters talking to the camera have a particular charisma and show themselves in the most natural way. The documentary’s scenery is also very important. Frenkel, who visited New Federation during two years, has created a colorful geography based on the selection of the house where he shot. Sometimes it reminds us of the houses in the movie Edward Scissorhands by Tim Burton. The pastel tones of the walls take control of the screen to give it a happy tone. However, there are parts which create a clear contrast, as those filmed by the inhabitants during the time of refoundation. We see how the military forces enter the city on their tanks.
Frenkel’s movie makes us think of two obvious influences. One of them is Edificio Master, by the Brazilian director Eduardo Coutinho, who also shows the process of a group of people who has to leave its place of origin in order to seek for a new one. The naturalist form of the interviews, mixed with the voice of the director who asks questions are two brands of Coutinho. But in addition, esthetically, Frenkel uses a resource which blurs the characters until the point they become transparent, a technique used by Wim Wenders in the short film Invisible Crimes. (Miguel Angel Farfán)