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February 03

Our Berlinale Picks: From Anderson to Afronauts

By Ella Miista
A 20th anniversary special edition of the cult film Léon is released today and despite the sunshine in London this weekend, the weather is still sufficiently rubbish to want to stay indoors and just watch films. However, just one film probably won’t do and since London Film Festival is still light years away, we’re looking towards the Berlin for some ideas and recommendations as this Thursday sees the start of 10 days filled with some of the best new and classic films shown at the Berlin International Film Festival. If you’re at the German hotspot for all things great and up for some festival going, film watching and all around good times and fresh ideas, here’s our pick of the best films shown this year.   Afronauts AFRONAUTS by Frances Bodomo // BEHIND THE SUN by Monira Al Qadiri Lovers of feature film we can’t deny there are some excellent shorts on show and these three call us out the most. First is Afronauts where we see a completely different spin to the 60s space race from the perspective of those furthest from it. The director says they wish to 'follow characters that have not been able to find a home on earth' which is a beautiful thought - as is the short film! Behind the Sun looks at how we perceive an apocalypse - is it still almost romantic or are we starting to realise it's actually pretty scary? The Kuwaiti artist shows real footage of the results of the First Gulf War to show what the end of the world might look like. Shadow Days by Zhao Dayong GUI RI ZI by Zhao Dayong Gui ri zi or Shadow Days is an indie feature by Chinese director Zhao Dayong, exploring the idea of how violence creates only more violence. The central character Renwei and his pregnant girlfriend have moved back to his rural hometown, far away from city lights and modern times, where one-child policy is strongly enforced. As Renwei gets caught up in this business he finds his relationship in difficulties. The film is beautifully shot in the Yunnan mountain province giving the viewer a great visual show. The director also did a nice photography exhibit there and it involves mermaids! A Long Way Down by Pascal Chaumeil A LONG WAY DOWN by Pascal Chaumeil The screen adaptation of Nick Hornby's book of the same name, A Long Way Down is about a New Year's Eve party for four. Alas, it's slightly less festive and a bit more suicidal as the four have come together on top of a high rise to end their lives. The idea to die in solitude of course turned out to be less original than any of them thought - there were four of them, after all - so instead of jumping, the unlikely bunch sat down to talk about their feelings. It's a great story and we'd recommend going to see whether they manage to live happily ever after or not, but even if you've read the book it's worth going if only to see how awesome the cast is. 20 000 Days of Earth 20,000 DAYS OF EARTH by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard The pair has been working together since they met during their studies in the mid 90s. In 2002 they even went back to Goldsmiths to do an MA together! Their work is about recreating moments in history that influence art and culture and this time creating a somewhat fictional 20,000th day of the life of the musician Nick Cave is the British art duo's first feature film. The feature switches between dramatised scenes and documentary footage, all narrated by Cave himself as it gives insight to his beautiful mind and the ideas behind his (song) writing. By Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL by Wes Anderson Everyone's favourite Wes Anderson has released a few shorts since Moonrise Kingdom but it still feels like it's been far too long. Thankfully we can sit back and relax as his latest feature is due to be released at Berlinale this week. Starring Ralph Fiennes who is looking as dapper as ever, it's a story of another unusual friendship. Hilarious? Yes. Dramatic? Indeed. Visually so stunning it makes us cry and want to live in a world directed by Anderson? But of course. Two years between two feature films isn't exactly a long time but it couldn't have come sooner. Boyhood Richard Linklater BOYHOOD by Richard Linklater You know how sometimes artists do projects that sound really insane and/or intense? Well, Linklater’s latest - a film that took 12 years to shoot - is definitely in that category. His Before series was unique as it was, but this one might even be weirder and better and considering how long this has been coming, this is the film we're most excited for. Boyhood, or "The Twelve Year Project", is a story of a boy going through school and looks at his changing relationship with his parents as he grows. It's always fascinating to see the interaction between the same actors and directors in different films, but the idea of seeing the intimacy between them as they grow together in the span of 12 years - which is a really long time! - is so exciting we simply cannot wait to see this.
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