Berlin Film Festival 2018: Q's Garbage, Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A and other highlights

Meenakshi Shedde

Feb 09, 2018 13:10:44 IST

It's freezing here in Berlin, with snowflakes swirling about in the day, and night temperatures slipping to minus 4 degrees centigrade. But what warms the heart are the keenly anticipated offerings of the 68th Berlin Film Festival, that runs from Feb 15-25.

The festival's opening film is Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs, an animation feature about a young Japanese boy from Megasaki City, who goes to rescue his beloved dog, Spots, from Trash Island, where all the dogs of Megasaki City have been exiled. Voiced by Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and Yoko Ono, it promises to be as eccentric and sly as his previous films. In fact, Anderson's previous film The Grand Budapest Hotel won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize in 2014.

A still from Isle of Dogs.

Other international highlights include Steven Soderbergh's Unsane, starring Claire Foy (famous for The Crown series), a horror film on a woman who fears she is being stalked, shot entirely on an iPhone. There's also Gus Van Sant's Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara, based on a real-life alcoholic in rehabilitation, who gets a new lease of life as a cartoonist. In addition, there's Damsel, with Robert Pattinson, The Happy Prince with Colin Firth and Emily Watson, and Raman Hui's Monster Hunt 2 starring Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (In the Mood for Love) and Baihe Bai. Argentinian master Fernando Solanas returns to the Berlinale, as it's called, with his documentary A Journey to the Fumigated Towns.

There will be a big Indian and South Asian presence at Berlin this year.

There are six Indian and South Asian films selected at the Berlin film festival. These include the world premiere of Q's (Kaushik Mukherjee) Garbage in the Panorama section. This hard-hitting fiction drama explores what happens when three lives collide — a taxi-driver who is also a social media troll, a woman he has enslaved, and another woman who is hounded after her ex-boyfriend leaks 'revenge porn' online. Set in Goa, it features Tanmay Dhanania, Trimala Adhikari and Satarupa Das. The film is produced by Hansal Mehta (Shahid) and Shaailesh R Singh and co-produced by Q. Q's earlier feature Gandu, in Bengali, was also in Panorama in Berlin in 2011.

A still from Q's Garbage.

Also playing in Panorama is Steve Loveridge's Matangi/Maya/M.I.A., a feature length documentary on Mathangi Arulpragasam, the cool yet contentious British-Sri Lankan pop star, whose father worked with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, and who moved to the UK as a refugee. The film won World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival. It is a US/UK/Sri Lanka co-production.

Three South Asian short films have been selected, of which Payal Kapadia's And What is the Summer Saying (20 mins) and Jayisha Patel's Circle (UK/India/Canada, 14 mins) are in the Berlinale Shorts. The new film of Kapadia, whose Afternoon Clouds was selected at the Cannes film festival's Cinefondation section last year, is a Film and Television Institute of India (FTII, Pune) student film on a honey gatherer's observations on bees and women's conversations on desire.

Jayisha Patel's Circle, set in a north Indian village, explores how Indian women inflict horrific violence on other women, especially the younger generations in their own families. Rajesh Prasad Khatri's Jaalgedi (A Curious Girl, 15 mins), from Nepal, is in the Generation K Plus section for children. A social drama made in the Khash language, its producers include well known filmmakers Min Bahadur Bham and Catherine Dussart.

Finally, Franz Osten's Die Leuchte Asiens (The Light of Asia), a silent feature and early Indo-German co-production of 1925, will play in the Retrospective section.
Eight South Asians have been selected for the Berlinale Talents that mentors upcoming talents. These include five from India — director-producer Haobam Paban Kumar (Lady of the Lake), cinematographer Shehnad Jalal (Lady of the Lake), actor-producer Pitobash; film critic and journalist of The Hindu, Kennith Rosario, and production designer Shalini Adnani. From Pakistan, director-producer Anam Abbas and director-writer Meenu Gaur have been selected, while from Nepal, production designer Suman Nidhi Sharma and cinematographer Chintan Rajbhandari have been chosen. Filmmaker Jyoti Mistry, Associate Professor, Wits School of Arts in South Africa, and a South African of Indian origin, is on the Berlinale Shorts Jury.

There is also an India Pavilion and an Indian delegation led by Karan Johar, that includes actresses Bhumi Pednekar and Vani Tripathi, filmmakers Shaji Karun and Jahnu Barua, Ashok Kumar Parmar, Joint Secretary, Films, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), and Amita Sarkar Deputy Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), organised by the MIB and CII. The Indian Embassy in Berlin will also host a reception. Moreover, a substantial 53 Indian filmmakers and companies have registered at the European Film Market, the international market arm of the festival.

Updated Date: Feb 09, 2018 13:10:44 IST