The Berlin International Film Festival came to a close this weekend, but there's many filmmakers and actors from the festival we'll likely be hearing about for some time. Over the course of the festival, there were numerous names few had heard of a few weeks ago that all of the sudden, were the subject of conversation thanks to their breakout work in the festival's program. Here's 10 in particular:
Brooke Bloom and Anja Marquardt, "She's Lost Control"
From the opening minutes of "She's Lost Control," it's clear that newcomer Anja Marquardt's portrait of a sex surrogate in New York City will take its subject matter seriously, using a studied manner that gives the material fresh context. With Brooke Bloom's central performance giving the movie its dramatic anchor, "She's Lost Control" strikes a fascinating mood between slow-building angst and cold remove not unlike the Joy Division song that provides the film's title. An under-the-radar entry in Berlin, "She's Lost Control" is poised to receive more attention for both Bloom and Marquardt at SXSW, where it will make its U.S. debut next month.
Josephine Decker, "Butter on the Latch" and "Thou Wast Mild and
We'd call it a Double Decker, but everyone at the Berlin Film Festival already did. American filmmaker Josephine Decker was the talk of Berlin thanks to the programming of both her first and second features, "Butter on the Latch" and "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely." The latter -- which could be more or less described as an existential and highly sexual horror film set on a farm -- world premiered in Berlin's Forum section. The former -- set in a Balkan folk camp and dealing with similar themes -- was shot way back in the summer of 2011, and premiered at very under-the-radar at the Maryland Film Festival back in May of last year. For them both to hit Berlin -- finding strong reviews, no less -- is a pretty remarkable feat.
Yann Demange and Jack O'Connell, "'71"
A gritty, relentless wartime drama that blends its action set pieces with palpable despair and historical observation, "'71" marked a major discovery in first-time feature director Yann Demange. And Demange's lead Jack O'Connell -- who we've seen in "This Is England" and British series "Skins" -- aids him with a gripping central performance as a British soldier marooned in a sharply divided Belfast over the course of a single, violent night during the height of the Northern Ireland conflict. "'71" constantly thrills without sensationalizing its surprises. Expect to hear lots about both its director and star in the future (particularly the latter, given he's the lead in Angelina Jolie's upcoming directorial effort "Unbroken"). Read Indiewire's review here.
Saar Klein, "Things People Do"
Like a condensation of the plot and themes in "Breaking Bad" without the meth, director Saar Klein's impressive debut "Things People Do" (which will screen at SXSW next month) puts a criminal spin on suburban discontent. Aided by a grave, committed performance by Wes Bentley in the lead role, Klein's story treads familiar territory but doesn't take its appeal for granted. The story of settled insurance salesman Bill (Bentley), who turns to robbery after losing his job and hides it from his wife, "Things People Do" makes its dramatic material stick -- despite a few screenplay imperfections -- by upping the tension with ample restraint: guns are brandished but rarely fired, voices almost never raised. Klein maintains the intensity while delivering the heavy-handed themes with a whisper.