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cambridge film festival daily

Issue 4 // Sunday 20 September www.cambridgefilmfestival.org.uk

IN BERLIN

hot ticketS SundaY 20 September Debate: Science on Screen - Darwin, Denial & Documentary at 4.30pm

Nuns: director Jan Dunn & actress Susannah York to present THE CALLING at 6.00pm

Berlin Without Boundaries

Streets: SILENTS ON THE STREETS. Free outdoor screenings from 8pm

The Berlin Identity By Christopher Peck

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icture the scene. A crowd of impassioned protestors swarm upon a central Berlin square, flanked by riot police poised to react to any untoward aggression. Standing watchful over the throng of agitated revolutionaries is the imposing structure of the Fernsehturn, a great black eye dominating the leaden grey sky. Devoid of virtually all colour other than greys and blues there is an eerie sense of the biting cold of a perpetual winter. Isolated within the crowd a young woman stands, her face pale and confused, engulfed by the increasingly volatile crowd yet somehow desperately alone. Welcome to Berlin, 2004. 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the cinematic representation

of one of Europe’s most famous cities remained defined by public surveillance and social unrest. Granted the scene does provide an excellent means of cover for one-man-army Jason Bourne to once again outwit his shady CIA pursuers, but there seems something just a little bit too familiar about this image of Berlin. Jump ahead to the present day and even now as the 20th anniversary of the Wall’s collapse approaches, do we really know anymore of Berlin’s true identity than amnesiac Bourne knows of his? It seems, like Bourne himself, the city

Modern Berliner: residents not doughnuts

has fallen victim to its own history resulting in the perpetuation of a false identity. Whilst outstanding films such as GOODBYE LENIN! and THE LIVES OF OTHERS have garnered success for their cathartic attempts to make sense of Berlin’s troubled past, relatively little attempt has been made to depict the vibrant and diverse city Berlin has since become. With the Festival’s Berlin Without Boundaries strand, audiences will at last be afforded the opportunity to embrace the Berlin of today, a city drastically removed from the oppressive days of the GDR that generally dominate representations of Berlin in cinema. In particular Ballhaus and Cappellari’s film IN BERLIN provides a captivating portrait of what it is to be a modern Berliner

(that is a local resident and not a variety of doughnut). The filmmakers encounter an array of fascinating individuals whose relationships and/or idiosyncrasies never fail to engage. Capturing the same endearing humanistic quality present in Philibert’s ÊTRE ET AVOIR, the film’s subjects bare their souls to the camera to the point where you feel less like a viewer and more like a welcomed guest. Equally personal is Thomas Heise’s MATERIAL, weaving continued on page 2

Cambridge Film Festival Daily 2009 Supported by TTP Group


Director and principal actors of THE BUTTERFLY TATTOO

archive and documentary footage of the past 20 years into an intricate tapestry of memories and emotions that ultimately imbue the piece with a dreamlike quality. The result is a profound experience presenting Berlin’s problematic history in a way that reflects the difficulties with which real Berliners have had to process it. A triple bill featuring BERLIN PLAYGROUND, THE BERLIN WALL and THE LAST WASH complete a strand that enables insight into a beautiful and fascinating city, dispelling the false identity that has for so long been the norm. As fashion designer Doreen Schulz explains in IN BERLIN, “For us a certain colourfulness is important because most people associate Berlin with grey”. Thankfully with the vibrant colour and beauty with which Ballhaus and Cappellari frame Berlin, this association, like the Wall itself may become a thing of the past. After a long hard struggle Berlin finally appears to be close to discovering its true identity, a concept more than familiar to a certain Mr Bourne. Berlin Without Boundaries opens with a screening of BERLIN PLAYGROUND & SHORTS at 6pm on Monday 21 September

Flutters of affection Interview with director Phil Hawkins and cast of THE BUTTERFLY TATTOO By David Perilli

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irector Phil Hawkins tries to convince me that his cast rode polar bears in THE BUTTERFLY TATTOO. It’s not that I don’t want to believe this cheery tousled-haired guy in jacket and jeans as we talk in the Arts Picturehouse Bar at the Cambridge Film Festival but I can’t recall them from watching the film a few hours earlier. As it transpires, a Dutch production company came to Hawkins a few years ago after he won Best Director at the New York Independent Film Festival in 2006 for WOMEN OF TROY. “We’ve got the rights to a book, but we can’t tell you who the author is yet. Are you interested? I was like, well, I kind of need to know more. So they said, okay, it’s a book by Phillip Pullman... I was like - oh my God - I’ve got THE GOLDEN COMPASS!” Hence the excitement about bears (a key part of that fantasy novel) as he

briefly thought he’d struck the Hollywood studio jackpot. Instead Hawkins was offered a previous book in Pullman’s catalogue, set in Oxford. In this contemporary version of Romeo & Juliet, older teen Chris (played by Duncan Stuart) rescues Jenny (Jessica Blake) from some caricature posh date-rapers at a college ball and the pair painfully - beautifully - gloriously fall in love. But tragedy beckons from the shady past of Chris’ boss, which threatens to engulf everything as Chris surges with his tumultuous emotions. Adapted by Hawkins with the children’s author Stephen Potts, Pullman had refusal over the various drafts of the script but the key aspect of

this production that attracted him was its independent spirit and dedication to offering opportunities for newcomers in the film industry. As lead actress Jessica Blake recalled “Pullman had actually gone to their set, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, the week before. He came to our set and said it was much better.” But aside from inclusion and table manners what sets THE BUTTERFLY TATTOO apart is the conviction with which the love story is portrayed. As Hawkins explains: “I wanted to make a love story which was real, which was human. I wanted people to really relate to these characters however old they are; the whole idea of love being universal.” In this Hawkins succeeds by giving

“There’s something really human about taking clothes off, especially when you’re quite nervous”


Bi-polAR OPPOSITES

the romance time to develop naturally, something which many modern films simply don’t have the patience to do preferring to set up LOVE ACTUALLY style pen-portraits of characters but without the scripting talents of Richard Curtis. Building up to this climax through a deftly edited sequence of Chris failing to cook pasta, the couple opt for takeaway instead which soon leads to postprandial consummation almost as poignant as Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in DON’T LOOK NOW. Although it’s not as explicit, Hawkins found this moment nerve-racking because “If anyone watches that scene and gets turned on by it then I’ve done something wrong because that’s not what the scene is about.” Expertly paced and full of fumbling this is meant to be real. “We take ages to build up to the first kiss because that’s how it feels. In love scenes when do

people take their clothes off? Normally it just cuts. There’s something really nice, really human about taking clothes off, especially when you’re quite nervous.” Clearly the crux of the film Hawkins, places weight on its importance: “If it was just a sex scene then it wouldn’t have ended up in the film.” Opening with the death of Jenny, both the film and the book offer no illusions about where this doomed romance is headed. Yet by choosing his leads instinctively - “films aren’t about actors they’re about the chemistry of the actors” - Hawkins ignites the passion of teenage love with a fury which may be snuffed out but never forgotten. THE BUTTERFLY TATTOO is screened on Monday 21 September at 11.00am

The Japanese film industry’s extensive history cannot be said to have made much room for cinéma vérité. Homeland documentaries from the war and its aftermath stressed national and class solidarity; the government-backed, much respected bunka eiga (“cultural film”) genre worked to advance and reify the sense of cultural singularity still strongly discernable in much of Japanese civic identity and policy. Against this tradition Kazuhiro Soda’s new film stands out like a sore thumb. Or rather, like the transparently suffering, ruthlessly un-glamorised outpatients who populate his remarkable film SEISHIN (MENTAL). Consisting of largely unedited interviews with the patients and staff of the Chorale Okayama Clinic, a community with a patient-run restaurant and milkdelivery service, the environment is relatively hopeful. Still, many of the patients are desperately isolated, living on public assistance. Some have committed

MENTAL // Kazuhiro Soda

Known chiefly for being the film that established Hitchcock as a remarkable director, attracting the attention of Hollywood in the process, THE 39 STEPS has since been the inspiration for countless other espionage films. Starring the unbeatably well-cast and utterly mismatched duo of

THE 39 STEPS // Alfred Hitchcock

Madeleine Carroll and famed matinee star Robert Donat, the film follows the journey of Richard Hannay (Donat) who flees by train to Scotland to avoid being wrongly arrested for the murder of a woman found in his flat. Not only an enviable model of a great British spy picture, but also a prime illustration of Screwball comedy-style lead

of gender roles, both in cinema and society itself. Also featuring an appearance from Hitchcock’s favourite cinematic invention, the MacGuffin! Laura J Smith

crimes. Tragically, three had killed themselves before the film’s release (acknowledged in the closing credits). Soda presents audiences with a nonfiction answer to the Dogme Vow of Chastity: no voiceovers or music; no exposition; no digital enhancement. Except through passing comments, we don’t even learn the patient’s names. The minimalist approach means that the storytelling has some gaps: we learn little about the clinic’s founder, Yamamoto Sensei, or about the area itself. An unsparing focus on this little-seen world finally evinces an intimacy - an investment in the lives of marginalised subjects - that is both deeply moving and, one hopes, legitimately subversive. Emma Firestone MENTAL was screened on Friday 18 September

characters, largely introduced into cinema as an attempt to refresh old, ‘stuffy’ portrayals of traditional love and marriage alongside changing perceptions

THE 39 STEPS is screened (as part of The Spying Game strand) on Sunday 20 September at 3.45pm


our Team (of SPies)

Olivier Bohler, director of CODENAME MELVILLE © TC

Audience Review WHITE LIGHTNIN’ When the director says before the film starts “I hope you know what you’re letting yourselves in for” and you, frankly, haven’t got a clue ‘what you’re letting yourself in for’ you might think you’re in trouble. White lightnin’ certainly doesn’t disappoint in the ‘dark’ stakes and will I’m sure be a hard sell for Momentum,

Audience Review CAN GO THROUGH SKIN A close-knit, claustrophobic tale of loss and identity. Visually intriguing with a beautiful use of sound and overlapped dialogue, leaving the viewer never quite aware enough to get fully comfortable, but herein lies the magic. Mark

but that’s not to say it isn’t an enjoyable picture, with solid and interesting acting throughout, from experienced and debut performers, this is an accomplished feature debut from the surprisingly NICE (given the disturbing material his brain has conjured) Dominic Murphy. Would recommend (to anyone ‘who knows what they’re letting themselves in for’). Owen Baker

Cambridge Film Festival Daily © 2009 Editor David Perilli Sub-editors Christopher Peck, Laura J Smith Editorial assistant Sara Cathie Festival photographer Tom Catchesides Design Robin Castle Printed by Victoire Press

Codename: Sancho Alias: Matt Waters, Online Intern Cover Story: Deputy online producer, managing web content Point of origin: Parts unknown M.I. Spy - Movie Inspiration Spy: Jason Bourne from the Bourne Trilogy For Your Ears Only: Secret Agent Man (RX Bandits) Specialist skill: Encryption

If you’re the cultured, creative type, you’ve found your workplace.

Top Ten: the people’s Favourite Film Award Half the fun of the festival is discussing the films afterwards - and the Festival would like to know what you think. Go online to register your reactions and rate the films you’ve seen.

Audience Review COURTING CONDI Every scathing exposé of corruption in the Bush administration would be improved by forcible nudity and

animated dance sequences. Not to mention the table football. Marion Leeper

w w w. t t p g r o u p . c o m


CFF Daily #4