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BERLINALE 2012 Competition / German / Indonesia / Hong-Kong

Postcards from the Zoo: a little girl found


Postcards from the Zoo: a little girl found

Indonesia has for the first time joined the hunt for a Golden Bear with a film full of majestuous animals. Postcards from the Zoo [+see also:
film profile
by Edwin, supported by the Torino Film Lab and co-produced by the German company Pallas Film, is a well-named film. Beautiful and colourful like a postcard, it unites the grace of an adorable child abandoned in the Jakarta Zoo who grows up into dream-maiden Lana (Ladya Cheryl) to that of cuddly baby tigers, placid hippopotami, and one single elegant giraffe.

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As she knows every corner of the zoo where she grew up, Lana becomes the audience’s guide, introducing it to facts about her friends the animals. The spectator becomes one with this magical place, whose marvel notably springs from its animal-shaped merry-go-rounds and pedal-boats, its merry stands, and its little bus that scowls like an oriental dragon. The men who work and live at the zoo are also presented to the audience as if they were animals, just as one feels the urge to stroke Lana with her gazelle eyes and her infinitely soft face.

And this is just what a cowboy magician does, when he suddenly appears and makes her his assistant, a servitude that she accepts with breathtaking candour. She pushes her heavy cart and places herself in the path of his daggers with the same unmovable purity as when she arches her back and sticks out her bottom to explain what a giraffe looks like to a nasty-looking pimp, or even when she is employed as a masseuse among girls who cleary give their male clients “happy endings”. Half way between childhood and the wild, Lana’s universe exists outside of morality - and therefore immorality - and she remains broadly unaffected by the human baseness that we guess exists beyond its borders.

For while it takes us on a tour of Asian imagery and fauna, Postcards from the Zoo is also an enchanting ode to the perfection of innocence.

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(Translated from French)

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