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Berlinale Breakouts: 10 Folks That Made a Major Impression At This Year's Festival

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire February 18, 2014 at 1:32PM

10 directors and actors that broke out at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival.
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Tony Revolori

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.

Abe Avisnan Josephine Decker

Josephine Decker, "Butter on the Latch" and "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely"
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.

Berlinale Haru Kuroki receives her Silver Bear.

Haru Kuroki, "The Little House"
At 23 years old, Japanese actress Haru Kuroki offers a touching, breakout performance as a maid working in Tokyo before and during World War II in Yôji Yamada's "The Little House." She clearly won over the hearts of James Schamus, Christoph Waltz, Greta Gerwig and company, as they and their fellow Berlinale jury members decided Kuroki would follow in the mighty footsteps of Paulina Garcia ("Gloria"), Sally Hawkins ("Happy-Go-Lucky") and the female cast of Oscar-winning Iranian film "A Separation" as the festival's Silver Bear winner for best actress. 

Benjamin Naishtat,  "History of Fear"
Buenos Aires is a haven for paranoia and confusion in Argentinian writer-director Benjamin Naishtat's mesmerizing debut "History of Fear," though its title is something of a misnomer. Rather than chronicling the timeline of the listless quality that characterizes Argentina's suburban class -- and, by extension, those around the world -- "History of Fear" hypnotically sets its gaze on the present. Borrowing the beats of a disaster movie without ever giving the invisible threat a name, Naishtat explores the tenuous constructs that allow a subset of the population to deny the harsher ingredients of the world beyond their safety zone -- until it's thrust right in front of them. Read Indiewire's review here.

Ivo Pietzcker in "Jack"

Ivo Pietzcker, "Jack"
Berlin offered a very strong batch of performances from child actors, not least among them young Ivo Pietzcker in the well-received homegrown competition entry "Jack."  In the title role, Pietzcker portrays a 10 year old Berliner responsible both for himself and his little brother as their single mother works during the day and often goes out at night. That is until Jack is blamed for burning his little brother with hot water (even though it's not his fault) and social services puts him in a home -- only he quickly escapes and goes out on a quest through Berlin to find his mother. It's a lonely, poetic story from director Edward Berger that Pietzcker has no issue anchoring -- breaking our hearts in the process.

Tony Revolori, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Speaking of young actors, 17 year old Anaheim-native Tony Revolori follows "Moonrise Kingdom" stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward in managing the ultimate dream of a feature film debut: co-starring in a Wes Anderson movie. In "The Grand Budapest Hotel" -- which opened the Berlinale to raves -- Revolori plays Zero Moustafa (or "Lobby Boy"), a role that placed him within an epic Andersonian cast including Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldbum. But Revolori more than holds his own, and when "Budapest Hotel" hits US theaters in March, there will be more than a few folks talking about him.

This article is related to: Berlin International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Jack, '71, She's Lost Control, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, History Of Fear





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