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Coming to Berlin & Beyond 2014: “Free Fall” and “Shifting the Blame”

Free Fall

freierfall_1three-stars15Generally speaking, outing yourself as a homosexual can’t be an easy thing to do. Having to do so while married to the woman who just gave birth to your child, along with working on a homophobic police force must make things even that much more harder. This is the dilemma facing Marc, a young police cadet struggling with having to face his true nature.

Though the setting and language are not that of Ang Lee‘s Brokeback Mountain, director Stephan Lacant‘s Free Fall is really not that much different, thematically and narratively speaking, that is. And though the endings of these two films differ slightly, just like Lee’s film this too works as both a heartbreaking and liberating piece of self discovering romantic fiction. Read More…


Coming to Berlin & Beyond 2014: “More Than Honey” and “Miles & War”

More Than Honey

More_Than_Honey_800bfour-stars4Seeing this film as Switzerland’s official Oscar submission to this year’s Oscars in the best foreign language film category makes me think that there’s hope for the Oscars to actually get something right yet.

As a documentary subject, making a plea for the Honey bee’s survival isn’t anything new. Having recently seen the documentaries Vanishing of the Bees (2009) and Queen of the Sun (2010) I was skeptical as to what else could be said about the matter that hasn’t already been said. I’ll put it this way, Markus Imhoof‘s More Than Honey is not only the most definitive non-fiction film on bees, it’s also one of the best conveyances of the contrast between human greed and human humbleness that I have ever witnessed in cinema, fiction or non. Until the BBC’s Planet Earth series gets a cinematic release this might be the closest you’ll get to witnessing some of the most beautiful and breathtaking insect photography on a large screen. Read More…

Our Guide to the 2011 Berlin & Beyond Film Festival

For a smaller festival Berlin & Beyond has continuously impressed us with  the quality of their films. Last year we were amazed by The Robber which set our standards high for the 2011 festival. Luckily audience members will once again be treated to one of the years best films with Tom Tykwer’s 3.  If you like German films or high quality films in general this is a festival that you should keep circled on your calendar.

3 – “… a fantastic, unique, and subtle film.  Often funny, often dark. It will challenge you and keep you thinking.  See it.” – Tom

Klitschko – “This was one hell of an exciting sports documentary!” – Adam

The Sandman – “The Sandman is an inspired, original film and everything a quirky movie should be.” Nick

Mount St. Elias – “Documenting the perils of ascending a treacherous mountainside will almost always result in suspenseful viewing.” Adam

Sennentuntschi – “Sennentuntschi is a great example of a fresh and fun take on the horror-thriller genre that had me guessing wrong from the very beginning.” – Nick

Young Goethe In Love – “Offers a unique glimpse into the tumultuous early years of German writer Johann Goethe.” – Kacy

The Fatherless –  If you are a fan of unorthodox family dramas you will want to check this one out.

Announcing the 2011 Berlin & Beyond Film Festival

The 2011 Berlin & Beyond Film Festival starts October 20th and runs through the 26th. Last  year the festival featured a film, The Robber,  that many of us at Filmbalaya considered one of the best films of the year. This year’s lineup looks like it could once again deliver some top-notch films.

What I’m most exited for is the addition of a Late Show which is featuring Swiss horror film, Sennentuntschi; about a mysterious mute woman with a strange affliction  who shows up at a village in the Alps. While there is only one movie in the late program, I’m glad that the festival is mixing it up. If there is one thing San Francisco doesn’t need it’s another festival that only focuses on social issues and multiculturalism.

There also seems to be a load of good documentaries this year, two of which I am very exited about. Klitschko, the story of the Ukrainian brothers who moved to Germany and proceeded to dominate the boxing world, and Jane’s Journey, the story of the famous wildlife expert who spent 45 years studying chimpanzees in Africa.

The Festival’s theme this year is “Light, Love & Revolution” and it explores strands of The Lives of Children and Migration & Multiculturalism.  Some of the films look pretty good but on a whole I have to say that this city is already overflowing with human issue stories and it’s really hard for me to get exited for them anymore. I have a good feeling about this festival though, as it has delivered in the past and has a lineup that looks like it will deliver again.

Check back closer to the festival for reviews!

See film schedule after the jump Read More…

15th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival Coming To San Francisco

Centerpiece film: When We Leave (Die Fremde)

Guten Tag!  For one entire week (10/22 – 10/28) the Castro Theatre will serve as your home for a slew of fantastic films hailing from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and beyond.  It’s the beyond part that I’m looking forward to the most.  Many of the filmmakers will be in town to talk about their films and do some Q&A, so be sure and stay after the credits have rolled.

So what exactly can you expect to see at this year’s Berlin & Beyond?  I think the trailer (below) will serve as a pretty good preview and will offer a decent idea of the types of films that will be playing.  Also, stay tuned to Filmbalaya, as we will be reviewing selected films in the weeks to come before they play at the festival.

Be sure to follow the jump after the trailer for a complete schedule and to see how you can purchase tickets.

Read More…

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