Australia’s Tony Krawitz (Jewboy, The Tall Man) directs the adaptation of The Slap author Christos Tsiolkas’ award-winning novel in this searing film about history, guilt and secrets. Ewen Leslie delivers a great performance as photographer Isaac, whose father’s death in suburban Sydney reveals the schism in his family and prompts a return to the ancestral homeland. On a trip to his parent’s village in Greece, he learns something of his father’s cursed history. At first he dismisses the revelation as superstitious nonsense, but over the course of his travels – from Greece to Paris to Budapest – Isaac is forced to confront the anti-Semitism of the past, the embedded bigotry in the bones of Europe and the nature of inherited guilt. It is on this fateful trip that Isaac will learn the truth of his family’s migration to Australia, their refusal to ever return to Greece, and the burden he continues to bear as a consequence of acts committed years before his birth.
Against a black screen, the first words ring out like a prophecy: “I saw a great epidemic. A chaos. I’d scream, people, it’s not going well, great poverty is coming!” Yet this is no prophecy any more for the shepherds in the mountains of western Greece. Hunched in their dingy, dilapidated homes, they discuss spending their last Euros on cigarettes or beer, catalogue their debts and look for new lenders, all the time bemoaning the hopelessness of their situation. The deep lines criss-crossing their weather-worn faces recall the rugged scenery outside, whose rocky valleys are bisected by electric pylons and wreathed in unremitting fog. Although animals are their livelihood, it is they that bear the brunt of their owner’s frustrations, a casual, everyday violence waiting to explode. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]
A man lives in his car. He’s 40 and separated from his wife and kids, who live in a different car. They meet in parking lots. A professional driver, the man delivers honey to a narcoleptic man and often dreams of his friend, who was killed when a hunter mistook him for a bear. Frequently late delivering honey, the man is fired, and his driving skills are questioned. Thrust into existential uncertainty, he abandons “car life” and joins a rogue motorbike gang.
In a monastery set on the top of sandstone pillars young monk Theodoros and nun Urania find themselves physically drawn to one and other after devoting their lives to the strict rituals and practises of the monasteries. Below them the eternal cycle of farm-life provides a strong contrast to their lives and they are forced to choose between human desire and spiritual devotion
Luis leaves his partner and flies to Berlin from Spain for a weekend of lighthearted partying, experimenting with drugs and casual physical encounters. He meets Viktor, a mysterious man who holds a fascinating, disconcerting attraction. Struggling with his inhibitions about being overpowered by a stranger, Luis submits to Viktor with a trusting passion. Shortly afterwards, Luis is confused with a missing Greek named Dimitri who is being desperately sought by his sister and cousin. Although Dimitri is Viktor’s ex-partner, Viktor has no explanation for his disappearance. Plagued by nagging suspicions, Luis nonetheless becomes further entangled in Viktor’s capricious and powerful aura of control and submission. This draws him into a quagmire of mysterious signs and dangers where soon even reality itself begins to seem like an illusion.
Heavy, trance-like images of a multinational, sleepless Berlin create an electrifying, feverish daydream-cum-trip which evokes insatiable desires. [Courtesy of Berlinale]
A girl in her teens, an eight-year-old boy, and a father suddenly no longer there. When fourteen-year-old Myrto learns her father has fled to avoid paying his debts, she kidnaps the son of his business partner whom she blames for bankrupting her father’s joiner’s workshop. Memories resurface as she wanders through the aisles of the workshop, where she hides her victim between stacks of spruce, oak and ebony. Were things really better in the old days? Myrto waits desperately for some sign that her father is alive, entertaining perfidious, sadistic fantasies about her young prisoner.
Thanos Anastopoulos employs precise images and a protocol-like dramatic structure infused with thriller elements to portray a society whose key players flee their responsibilities. He shows us images of the crisis that have already become symbolic: the black market, invoices no-one can afford to pay, Molotov cocktails in the streets. And in between, the warm colours of wood form a clear contrast to the social egotism of the surroundings. The crisis sends its children out into a moral no-man’s land. Yet the suspicion remains that the relationship between the generations was already out of sync beforehand. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]