Berlin Film Festival: Review

This year’s Berlin Film Festival is underway, returning in person after last year’s pandemic-curtailed virtual edition. It is a great year for ASFF alumni, with many filmmakers showcasing new work at the 72nd edition of the prestigious Berlinale.

In competition, French-Swiss filmmaker Ursula Meier unveiled her new movie The Line. In the past, Meier has worked with the likes of Isabelle Huppert (2008’s Home) and Léa Seydoux (2012’s Sister), but she never stopped making shorts, and brought both Quiet Mujo and documentary short Kacey Mottet Klein, Birth of an Actor to ASFF 2015 and ’16, respectively.

In Meier’s new feature, The Line, Belgian actor-singer-playwright Stéphanie Blanchoud plays 35 year-old Margaret, who begins the film with one almighty altercation with her 50-something mother Christina (Valeria Bruni-Tedschi). The intensity rarely drops in what is a deeply humane portrait of a troubled family relationship.

Also playing out of competition is British filmmaker Peter Strickland’s latest, Flux Gourmet, which was shot near York – the home of ASFF. Strickland, who joined us as a masterclass speaker at ASFF 2021, is the director behind The Duke of Burgundy and Berberian Sound Studio, but his new film sees him at his most radical.

The film focuses on a “culinary collective”, a group in residence in a secluded mansion who find artistic value in food. With a cast that includes Asa Butterfield and Gwendoline Christie, who featured in Strickland’s last film In Fabric, the central focus is Stones (Makis Papadimitriou), a wordsmith employed to document events but is suffering from his own intestinal issues. Teasing us with shock value, Strickland’s mastery of language is also on show once more, as he explores the intimate relationship between the body and food.

A word of congratulations too for filmmakers Laura Wadha and Britt Raes. Half-Scottish, half-Syrian director Wadha, who screened Flight at ASFF 2017, has her new work, the highly personal documentary portrait Born In Damascus, playing as part of the 14 Plus shorts category. Meanwhile Raes, who brought Catherine to the same ASFF in 2017, is presenting the animated Luce and the Rock in the Generation KPlus strand. It’s fabulous to see so many friends of ASFF continuing to produce great work and screening it across the globe.

Belinale 2022 runs from 10-20 February 2022. Find out more here.

James Mottram