Berlinale: SHORT REVIEWS

Berlinale competition: “Természetes fény / Natural Light” by Dénes Nagy

Natural Light by Dénes Nagy. —

1943. During the Second World War, a long winter lies ahead in the occupied Soviet Union. István Semetka is part of a Hungarian special unit that searches village by village for partisans. One day the unit comes under enemy fire while marching in a remote town. The commander is killed and, as the highest ranking officer, Semetka has to take the lead. He leads the survivors through a swamp to an occupied village, where they rejoin their department.

Dénes Nagy’s feature film debut is more than a war film. Immersed in a pale, damp light in which the faces appear as if painted in mud, Natural Light tells of men who get from one moral dilemma to the next and penetrate deeper and deeper into the unknown. What can you do to survive? Up to what point is everyone next to himself? Are you guilty as a witness of horrific events that you did not cause? After all certainties about good and bad have evaporated, men must choose between conformity and the will to do what is right.

“Natural Light” gains its effect, among other things, from the masterful sound track. The silence, the sounds of footsteps, the birds singing, then hectic noises, then silence again. This change gives you an impression of how nerve-wracking the scene. „Natural Light“ is a masterful film debut.

Directed by Dénes Nagy
with Ferenc Szabó, Tamás Garbacz, László Bajkó, Gyula Franczia, Ernő chair
Hungary / Latvia / France / Germany 2020
103 minutes

Berlinale competition: “Petite Maman” by Céline Sciamma

Petite Maman by Céline Sciamma. —

After the death of Nelly’s beloved grandmother, the eight-year-old girl helps her parents clean out the house where her mother Marion spent her childhood. Nelly explores the house and the surrounding forest where her mother used to play and build the tree house that Nelly has heard so much about. One day the mother leaves suddenly. Then Nelly meets a girl of the same age who is building a tree house in the forest. The girl’s name is: Marion.

PETITE MAMAN is the second film with which Celine Sciamma (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) is at the Berlinale – after TOMBOY in 2011. The story of the two young friends Nelly and Marion is so wonderfully touching, real and convincing. The two young actresses, Joséphine Sanz (Nelly) and Gabrielle Sanz (Marion) impress with their honest, real acting. They playfully test themselves in growing up. PETITE MAMAN, Sciamma’s fifth film, is once again deeply convincing and we wish it soon to be released in German cinemas.

Director: Celine Sciamma
with Joséphine Sanz, Gabrielle Sanz, Nina Meurisse, Stéphane Varupenne, Margot Abascal
France 2021
72 minutes

Generation 14plus: La Mif / The Fam by Fed Baillif

La Mif by Fred Baillif. —

„Who are you?“ – „The punk queen in the land of assholes.“

Seven girls live together under one roof. They didn’t choose each other like a family. They come from difficult backgrounds, here in the home the girls find a new family, a community that they have never known before. They share joy and sorrow and rebel against the inadequacies of their environment – the temperaments of the young women are different, their hunger for life is great, their place in society too precarious. Home manager Lora is always there for you when you need her. Or is it the other way around? La Mif was created in close collaboration with the young actresses who were involved in the development of their characters. Every fate a splinter. They assemble into a dazzling kaleidoscope that turns hierarchies upside down. The film sensitively reveals the shortcomings of youth protection systems as well as the fragility of social structures and explores the question of what it might mean to be part of a family.

La Mif impresses with powerful scenes and convinces with its great, committed protagonists. Director Fred Baillif knows what he’s talking about. Apart from the fact that he was a professional basketball player in his life, worked in New York for film and as a DJ and has already had some work in the documentary film sector in Switzerland – he has also worked primarily as a street worker and as a social worker in a juvenile detention center.

Director: Fred Baillif
with Claudia Grob, Anaïs Uldry, Kassia Da Costa, Joyce Esther Ndayisenga, Charlie Areddy
Switzerland 2021
111 minutes
recommended for ages 14 and up

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