Fausto presents some of the more interesting Asian films screening at the Berlinale Film Festival, which runs from 7-17 February…
Since 1951 there’s been a portal in the middle of Europe, a place where the whole world experienced a better way to show itself to a worldwide audience. The Berlin International Film Festival is coming to town, with a bag full of candies in time like the best Santa Claus would be. Obviously, we’re interested in exotic candies, coming all the way from Asia to our not-so-nearest cinema. As everyone will know, the Jury President this year will be one of the world best directors, Wong Kar-wai (Chungking Express, Fallen Angels) here to give us the biggest present of the year: the European Premiere of his long waited kung fu flick The Grandmaster. It’ll be Ip Man again, this time with Tony Leung Chiu-wai to inject new life to the character who we’ve seen interpreted by Donnie Yen and Dennis To.
The Hong Kong/China produced movie will open the festival, the red carpet will be filled with stars like Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Chung Chen, Cung Le and Song Hye-kyo, but that’s where the Asian grandeur will end. Hong Sang-soo will be the only Asian director to fight for the Golden Bear with the world premiere of Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, but unfortunately we don’t know nothing about it yet, something that won’t stop our expectations for one of the finest Korean directors, the most appreciated by all festivals around the world.
Far away from the main competition and the big events of the festival, there’ll be Dasepo Naughty Girls director E J-yong in the Panorama section with Behind the camera together with his fellow Korean colleagues Leesong Hee-il’s White Night, Don Ku-lee’s Fatal, Kim Dongho’s Jury. In a few word, Berlin will be invaded by south Koreans: they’ll come outta the “goddamn” walls to make us happy, even in Generation section. Chang Jung-chi and Shin su-won will have their first feature to premiere in Berlin, respectively directors of Touch of the Light and Pluto, while there’ll be the only Japanese against them trying to conquer the awards: Ryota Nakano with Capturing Dad.
What else? Well, we might say that the best has already come, and it’ll be featured as special screenings with What else? Well, we might say that the best has already come, and it’ll be featured as special screenings with Keinosuke Knoshita’s retrospective with five of his movies restored in 35mm for our pleasure: Jubilation Street (1944), Woman (1948), Engagement Ring (1950), Farewell to Dream (1956), A Legend or Was It? (1963). A great occasion to catch some of the rarest movie by one of the less known – yet among the best – Japanese directors of the golden era. Isn’t it wonderful? Yes, it is, and the Berlinale has more in the hat, the cherry upon the finest cake: Crossroads of Youth, the first feature length korean movie survived to history, the only one by director Ahn Jong-hwa.
We could have expected more from the Berlinale, but it’s enough to know that Wong Kar-wai and Hong Sang-soo will be there with us, together with all of the other in the parallel sections. But this is just a small slice of the whole Berlin’s programme which will soon be completed with the final announcement on the morning of the 28th at the press conference, and if there’ll be more features to be added to the current schedule, we’ll be happy, but right now, as it is now, I’m glad enough to know to have a chance to see The Grandmaster himself.