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The Romanian Film at the 68th edition of Berlin International Film Festival

The Berlin International Film Festival, also called Berlinale, has celebrated its 68th edition this year. For 11 days, Berlin has become the home of over 400 worldwide films, most of them world premieres, and Romania wasn’t one to miss this celebration of the cinema

It’s safe to say that Berlin IFF doesn’t need any introduction whatsoever, since it has been for a long time now one of the most prestigious international film festivals. There would be plenty to say about this year’s edition though, and the subject of the Romanian presence in the festival it’s already on everyone’s lips.

Certainly, the good news has got to everyone by now, since on Saturday evening (February 24th) Facebook was stormed by joyful posts and lots of shares regarding the Awards Ceremony event. But we’ll get there soon, saving the best for last!

To begin with, it should be stated that this is the first year in which Romanian productions have been selected in almost all important sections of the festival.

De Natura‘ (directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic) and ‘Trois reves de jeneusse/Three dreams of my childhood‘ (directed by Valerie Mrejen and Bertrand Schefer) are two Romanian-produced short films selected in the Generation KPlus section, dedicated to children and young people.

Lemonade‘, Ioan Uricariu’s directorial debut in feature film, was selected in the Panorama section, which seeks out bold projects with a different artistic vision and a desire for the unfamiliar. The film follows the story of Mara (Mălina Manovici), a 30-year-old single mother who, shortly after moving to the US for a temporary nurse job, marries Daniel (Dylan Smith) to get the Green Card. But the process is not simple and she begins to realize that the America she imagined has little to do with the reality.

Corneliu Porumboiu’s  latest documentary, ‘Infinite Football‘, was presented in the Forum section, a section devoted to avant-garde, experimental works, essays or political reportage. The dialogue between Porumboiu and Laurențiu Ginghină, a representative of the local authorities in Vaslui, reveals his passion for football but, also, the obsession of revolutionizing this sport by reinventing the rules of the game. Under the funny layer of explanations and graphic sketches, a different, more profound life perspective is hiding.

The Romanian actress Maria Drăguș (‘The White Ribbon‘, ‘Graduation‘) should be mentioned for her leading role in the German film “Verlorene/Lost Ones”, selected in the Perspektive Deutsches Kino section which showcases thematic and artistic trends among next generation of German filmmakers.

Also, Cosmina Stratan and Dana Marineci had roles in ‘Cobain‘ (directed by Nanouk Leopold), a Holland/ Belgium/ Germany co-production, and Alexandra Suciu and Grațiela Bădescu played in ‘Fortuna‘ (directed by Germinal Roaux), a Switzerland/ Belgium co-production, both films being part of the Generation 14plus competition.

Berlinale Talents is the Berlinale initiative of bringing 250 outstanding creatives from the fields of the film (screenwriters, directors, producers, editors, film critics, etc.) together with professionals from the international film industry through masterclasses, panel discussions, workshops and special programmes. This year, among the 250 selected talents were also four Romanian young film creatives: Alina Grigore (screenwriter, director), Andrei Epure (screenwriter), Ioan Antoci (screenwriter, director) and Flavia Dima (film critic, journalist).

And so we are approaching the key-moment. ‘Touch Me Not, Adina Pintilie’s feature debut, selected in the International Competition, raised mixed reactions from the audience. On the fluid border between reality, fiction and fine art, the film explores the human need and, at the same time, the fear of deep intimacy and authentic contact. Some of those who watched the film were contradicted by the explicit images and the level of exposure both, physically and emotionally, some of them showed their enthusiasm for the bold approach and lack of inhibitions, and most of them remained still in their chair, lost for words and deeply moved.

The negative reviews definitely have not helped getting the film at the top of the competition. On the contrary, it received one of the lowest scores. Hence the biggest surprise of the Awards Ceremony evening (February 24th), when they announced the Golden Bear winner: Adina Pintilie for ‘Touch Me Not’.

The film also received the GWFF Best First Feature Award, a trophy offered by a jury including Călin Peter Netzer, the director of ‘Child’s Pose‘, the first Romanian film rewarded with the Golden Bear, in 2013.

In the end, let’s have a brief overview of this year’s edition of Berlinale: 11 days, 400 films, 14 festival sections, over 25 venues, over 300,000 tickets sold, countless screenings (that’s just math I cannot do), special guests from all around the world, dozens or even hundreds of daily meetings at one of the biggest film market in the world, the European Film Market; should we also take into account the number of photos and the endless talks about films in the theatre halls and screening rooms? And so it remains the Closing Gala, a memorable evening full of surprises on which Adina Pintilie received the Golden Bear for her debut feature, ‘Touch Me Not’. As for us, we’re left with a feeling of confidence not only in the Romanian cinema prospects but, also, in the worldwide cinema future.

Berlin International Film Festival took place between 15th and 25th of February. Here you can find more details about the festival and the winners.

an article by Andreea Toader

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