A Quintet: all roads lead to Berlin
by Vladan Petkovic
- Produced by three alumni of the Berlinale Talent Campus 2012, this omnibus tells five stories set in different countries, with Berlin as the connecting thread
An interesting tie-in between festivals in Berlin and Sarajevo, which share the concept of Talent Campus, the omnibus film A Quintet world-premiered out of competition at the 20th Sarajevo Film Festival.
Conceived and produced by Turkish actress Demet Gül (Almanya – Welcome to Germany [+see also:
interview: Yasemin Samderely
film profile]), Serbian actress Jelena Stupljanin (Cirkus Columbia [+see also:
interview: Danis Tanovic
film profile]) and Swiss-Mexican director Mauro Mueller, winner of the Student Academy Award for Un mundo para Raúl, who all met at the Berlinale Talents 2012, A Quintet consists of five stories by directors from three continents.
In The House in the Envelope by Sanela Salketic (born in Germany, of Bosnian heritage), young Turkish woman Layla (deliciously played by Gül) returns from Berlin to Istanbul and her grandparents' house. Her father wants to give his parents a house as a gift, but the old man has his reasons to refuse. The short relationship Layla strikes up with a taxi driver (the charismatic Özer Arslan) tells us everything about her in very few words, and the final sequence of a discussion with her grandfather (Vedat Erincin, from Almanya and Kuma [+see also:
film profile]) gives the film emotional impact.
The second film, Tourist by Kosovan director Ariel Shaban, is about a young German man (Michel Diercks), a visitor to Sarajevo, who is found passed out on the street by a local man of about the same age (Armin Omerović), who used to live in Germany. The two forge a fleeting friendship through a discussion about mentality, cultural differences and an encounter with local thugs. Here, some strong directing is enough to overcome the occasional script problems, leaving a positive impression on the audience.
In Polaroid by Italy's Roberto Cuzzillo, a young man from Sicily (Salvatore Li Causi) goes back to Berlin in search of his one-time (albeit brief) lover (Aron Blankenburg), only to find that he is really a family man who does not want to have anything more to do with the affair of the previous summer. Impressionistic cinematography and the nocturnal Berlin setting give the film a dreamy atmosphere.
Friend Request by Elie Lamah is an autobiographical story about a Lebanese director (David Berton) who meets an Isreali colleague (Maryam Zaree) at the Berlinale. He is initially afraid to speak to an Israeli, as laws there prohibit any kind of contact, but the two form a bond that he then has to decide if he wants to continue when he returns to Beirut. The film suffers from too much dialogue and exposition, and is the weakest part of the omnibus.
In the closing film, The Cuddle Workshop, a New York actress (Jelena Stupljanin) who shies away from physical contact tries to overcome her problem by taking part in the eponymous workshop. There she meets various colourful characters, and this leads to many funny and endearing moments. This is the most accomplished of the films in the production sense, and wraps up the omnibus in an uplifting fashion.
A Quintet was produced by Breaking Walls Production, and co-produced by the German Film and Television Academy, Sarajevo's Obala Art Centar, Italy's Sap11, and New York-based Mediafisch and Fidelio Films. The rights are available.