Cinema: Stories across the globe

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Here are more highlights from the Berlin International Film Festival.

Kaurismäki’s THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE was a delight to wake up early for, a funny and humane story about a refugee in Finland and the people he encounters. Typically absurd and with a selection of blues men to accompany the tale, this is bound to do well across Europe.

THE CASTING OF JONBENET RAMSEY has been causing a stir, and I was not disappointed. A fantastically unique way to bring this well-known mystery to life, using actors to audition to play the roles and interviewing them along the way.

The controversial French film, THIS IS OUR LAND is definitely ‘not’ based on French right wing candidate Marine Le Pen. It tells the story of a woman persuaded to stand as Mayor for the right-wing party, helmed by an enigmatic blonde making her own way in politics free from the cloud of her father’s influence. This is a film about the ease at which the far-right can gain ground.

Cate Shorthand’s BERLIN SYNDROME was always bound to be popular. This is a totally gripping, terrifyingly tense and very enjoyable. As with all thrillers, it is best to the plot under wraps. 

MAUDIE is the story of Maud Lewis, a painter from Canada with severe arthritis. Her style of folk art is beautiful and this portrayal by the ever-brilliant Sally Hawkins is tender and enduring. Ethan Hawke is her gruff husband, Everett and plays it well: their relationship is touching despite their trials and his poor treatment of her during the early years. I was inspired to find out more about Maud, some of her pieces are beautiful and I may even order a print.

The Romanian film ANA, MON AMOUR was one of my favourites. A Romanian BLUE VALENTINE is the best way to describe this film, as it charts the lifetime of a relationship. Their story is told through flashback, as Toma recounts his relationship with the troubled Ana, a young woman with mental health problems.

INSYRIATED was my final Panorama section film and what a film! A story about a flat in Syria, under siege. Crowded and incredibly tense, this flat feels like both prison and protection, as they can’t leave or let people enter. I really hope this is released in the UK as it is a vital film right now. 

For the final day I enjoyed a couple of films in the retrospective, this year focused on sci-fi. GOG is a 1950s 3D treat! Set in an underground scientific research centre somewhere in the American desert, scientists have been killed by their own machines. Overall the festival this year was brilliant: I watched 41 films, experienced stories from around the world - tragedies, romances, thrilling rides and moments of utter beauty.