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FESTIVALS / AWARDS Germany

The 7th edition of the Berlin Critics’ Week offered to look at cinema differently

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- The German film critics association, which is at the origin of the event funded in 2015, organised this year an online edition including a film selection, conferences and debates

The 7th edition of the Berlin Critics’ Week offered to look at cinema differently
Watch Over Me by Farida Pacha (© Leafbird Films)

A selection committee composed of young film critics put together the 7th edition of the Berlin Critics’ Week, which wasn’t reserved to the industry but open to the general public. People with an accreditation could access the films from outside Germany, too. This edition of Berlin Critics’ Week took place from 27 February to 7 March, in parallel with the first half of this year's Berlinale.

The Critics’ Week was funded in 2015 by members of the German film critics association following the example of much older Critics’ Weeks associated with some of the biggest international film festivals, such as Cannes, Venice and Locarno. The aim was to attract attention to the discipline of film criticism and to value its importance within the film business. Specifically, the section seeks to look at films more closely: “International critics and filmmakers will discuss politics and aesthetics, preferences and rejection, new forms of distribution and perception. How do we watch films? Which films are we longing for? What constitutes cinema?”

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A total of 16 films, half of them shorts, was presented at this year's edition. The films were available online from the first day of the festival. Each day, a debate with filmmakers and additional guests took place, discussing the films in a more global context. To start the festival and to set the goals for the program that would follow, an opening conference took place during two days on 27 and 28 February. Under the title “Coherent Action, Incoherent cinema”, the panelists and speakers were confronted to questions such as “How can conviction be shown? On the screens and displays out there, do there exist sequences of images that make it possible to imagine the future of cinema in the midst of a pandemic?” 

The films shown during the festival came from three different continents. The focus was clearly on experimental film, with a preference for documentaries all dealing with actual and relevant political realities from around the world. Among them was, for example, the black and white film Watch Over Me, by Farida Pacha. In this German-Swiss-Indian co-production, the Indian-born filmmaker living in Switzerland follows a group of women who care for the poor and sick people of India, who often do not have access to proper health treatment. Also from India was Horse Tail, by Manoj Leonel Jason and Shyam Sunder, a fantastic feature film with a psychedelic aesthetic in which a man grows a horse tail overnight.

In FREIZEIT or: the Opposite of Doing Nothing [+see also:
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, by German director Caroline Pitzen, “Germany is shown as the arena of political struggles.” Her protagonists are “young people who do not want to distance themselves from the unrest in the world — who do not look away, but weigh in, discuss, perceive, remain attentive. Just like the film’s camera, which quietly follows and observes them wherever they are active: in their circle of friends, at school, on the street, even at home at night.” While Pitzen's film celebrated its world premiere, another European production, A Museums Sleeps, an experimental feature by French director Camille de Chenay, had its international premiere at the festival.

Through its debates, the Critics’ Week offered to look differently at cinema and its images, to open for an experimental way to deal with visual habits and to strengthen the critical sense in the audience.

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