Day One at the Berlin International Film Festival
by Anna Franklin
Bille August, who opened the festival with "Smilla's Sense Of Snow,"
announced that he will be heading for Prague for his next project "Les
Miserables" (the book, not the musical) with Uma Thurman, Liam Neeson,
Geoffery Forman and Claire Danes for Mandalay Entertainment. The film
will lens at Barrandov Studios where "Smilla's" leading actress Julia
Ormond is also headed after Berlin to continue the shooting of Nikita
Mikhalkov's "Barber Of Siberia" which has been shooting in Moscow and
Siberia on and off since September. Mikhalkov has rented six stages at
Barrandov, one of the largest studios in Europe, for his first English
language film. The Czech director Milos Forman, in Berlin for
competition entry "The People Vs. Larry Flynt," will also be heading for
Prague for a gala screening of the film in his home town next week.
Many films that scored a hit at the Sundance Film Festival are getting their
first screening in front of a European audience and the reaction in
general has been positive. "Chasing Amy" director Kevin Smith told me that
he was surprised at the favorable response from the Berlin audience
because he had been worried that the film - the third in his New Jersey
trilogy - might prove difficult for a foreign audience with its
streetwise American dialogue. Smith was also surprised at the amount of
graffiti in Berlin on his first visit to the city.
"Brassed Off," the British film about a brass band in a Yorkshire coal
mining town, has been the hit of the festival so far garnering a
resounding round of applause after its screening last night as well as
kudos from critics. Even fest director Moritz De Hadeln was glimpsed
slipping into the packed midnight press conference for "Brassed Off."
Director Mark Herman, fresh from an enthusiastic reception in Sundance,
was not surprised at his success in Berlin having already had the chance
to gauge audience reaction outside his native Britain. Herman said he
felt it was the sense of community and people coming together in a
crisis as well as the wonderful music that appealed to people even
though they had no knowledge of the British political situation in the
mid-1980's the backdrop against which the film is set.
[Anna Franklin is an independent television producer and film critic based in
Prague and Moscow who works for World Link TV. In Berlin she is reporting
for Sundance Channel and Russian Television.]