Experiencing the best of film festival - from my Sheffield home

Last week, the Berlinale Film Festival and it’s enormous European Film Market took place online. It was my first time visiting the festival, and strange to have done so from my living room.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 6:00 am
Memory Box was one of the best films Mikaela saw as part of the festival

There were pros and cons; I missed out on exploring Berlin’s beautiful cinemas and the buzz of a screening full of people genuinely floored by a premiere. That aside, I did see some stunners. I’ve listed my top picks of films to look out for later this year and you can head over to the Showroom Blog – showroomworkstation.org.uk/blog – for a full rundown of every film I saw.

Petit Maman

Every film Céline Sciamma has made has wowed me, so whenever there is a new one, I get nervous: I’ll be either be disappointed, or an emotional wreck. Predictably, it was the latter here. Petit Maman is the kind of quiet little film that creeps up on you, so gentle and subtle that you don’t realise what’s hit you until it’s far too late. It follows a young girl, whose grandmother passed a week earlier. When she travels to clear out the house with her family, she meets another child in the woods - her own mother at her age. A delicate film that packs an incredible amount of intelligence and nuance into a tiny 72-minute run time.

Taste

A bold debut from Vietnamese filmmaker Lê Bảo, Taste is a difficult beast to describe in a short paragraph. A stark, still film, told through a series of tableaux, but somehow bursting with visual flair. Bassley, a Nigerian footballer living in Vietnam, loses his job after a leg injury and moves in with four middle-aged women he sometimes works for. The five remain reclusive in the house for a time, sharing in daily rituals and occasionally imparting their tales of longing and loneliness. An incredibly layered debut that marks Lê Bảo as one to watch.

Memory Box

Maia and Alex, a mother and daughter, living in Canada, receive an unexpected delivery: notebooks, tapes, and photos Maia sent to her best friend before leaving Beirut. Maia refuses to open the box or confront its memories, but Alex secretly begins diving into it. Between fantasy and reality, Alex enters the world of her mother’s tumultuous, passionate adolescence during the Lebanese Civil War, unlocking mysteries of a hidden past. Built around the co-directors own archives

of personal journals, tapes, and wartime photographs from Beirut in the 1980s, Memory Box feels lively and fresh while rooted in real, tangible histories.