Political issues were definitely on the agenda this year and women filmmakers had a unique way of protesting and being seen. At the Sony Center they had a PQR film bubble. It was quite unique: a blown up plastic igloo, which had doors, and inside was a film studio where they had talks and on the outside you could have a glass of wine and could join this organization. PQR stands for “Pro Quote Regie” which is working toward having a 50% ratio instead of the 2014 statistic of 11% women directors on TV and only 20% in the cinema. It was interesting to note that this was also a topic at the Berlinale Talent Campus, a lecture that was sold out. I should know since I tried to get into it. I do have to say that the Berlinale Film Festival did have a lot of female film directors (five alone in the competition category). At least with most of the films that I saw, this was the case: Angry Inuk, Werewolf, Chavela, Kaygi, Colo, On Body and Soul, The Party, and many more. I can’t say that it was 50% but it definitely was more than 20%. In the end I have decided to join PQR to support women in their cause. You don’t have to be a film director to join and it is not that expensive. So check it out at www.proquote-regie-de.
Obaltan (Aimless Bullet)
Yu Hyun-mok, Korea
This 1961 Korean film is listed as the best Korean film ever made. The film is very realistic in that it was filmed right after the Korean War so it makes us feel the aftermath of the war. The story portrays the plight of a large family trying to survive. Poverty, unemployment, inflation as well as the lack of goods play a pivotal point in the everyday existence of these people. They struggle with their depressions and wounds as they glorify their war efforts over a drink of Saki. Filmed in black and white, it gives us this bleak gritty view of their existence. One brother, who is an accountant, tries to hold the family together on a job that doesn’t pay enough. He is literally in pain due to a toothache but nevertheless is willing to make the sacrifice for his family as he treads up and down the same winding path to and forth from work to home. Many of the other characters try different schemes to make money and there are even a few love stories trying to bud among the rubble. The story twists to the point that we don’t know who will survive in this terrible aftermath of war. There is no question that this film is a classic.
Ceylan Özgün Özçelik, Turkey
At the Q&A of this film, director Ceylan Özgün Özçelik said that she wanted to focus on what is happening in the world today when it comes not only via free press but on real news. She herself has worked as a TV editor and had experienced the manipulation of stories so that the stories no longer represent the facts. In her story her main character is driven mad by a suppressed incident that happened to her as a little girl. She was told that her parents were killed in a car accident but, because she works in the archive section, suspects that this is not the truth, since she cannot find any evidence of the accident. In the end she finds out that they were killed in a political event that actually did take place in Turkey but is mostly unknown because of these manipulations of facts. It is like many people who suffer war trauma but, in this case, it is political trauma which is leading the main character into paranoia. It was to remember a forgotten event where some 30 intellectuals of the Alevi minority group were burned alive in a hotel in Sivas in 1993 by some fundamentalist Muslims.
The film provokes us to ask the question on what currently is happening today. What is real or fake news? How do we know that a story hasn’t been manipulated? We are all so plugged in, how do we reach out to connect to others in person when we are troubled by what we read? Will we soon become a generation of people who don’t go outside and just communicate through devices? These are scary thoughts but not unrealistic. It sounds like a science fiction movie but I am curious to see what happens in the next twenty years. We have to fight for free press and real news for our future. What will happen to our societies if we don’t do that?