Seven Creative Capital Awardees screen films at the Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin

Feb 06 2015 - Feb 14 2015


Berlin International Film Festival

Berlin, International




Film and Video

Jem Cohen, Kevin Jerome Everson, Ken Jacobs, Laura Poitras, Matt Porterfield, Jennifer Reeder and The Yes Men screen work at the Berlin International Film Festival.

February 6: Citizenfour, dir. by Laura Poitras. In January 2013, Laura Poitras was editing the third of a trilogy of films about America post-9/11 when she began receiving mysterious, encrypted emails. The source signed off as “Citizen Four” and claimed to have proof of secret mass surveillance programs run by the NSA and other spy agencies around the world. That June, Poitras flew to Hong Kong with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill to meet the source in person. There she met Edward Snowden. Over the next eight days, she filmed a series of exchanges that unfolded quietly and then, once reported, shook the world. Both a real-life thriller whose revelations unfold in real time and an intimate character study of one person’s life-altering choices,Citizenfour is a film like no other.

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February 7, 9, 10, 12: Take What You Can Carry, dir. by Matt Porterfield. A journey through day and night, night and day. Lilly has been living in Berlin for a while. She is a US American passing through. She has a lover and no penthouse. The relationship is vague. “You come and go as you please”, he says. “What do you mean?”, she asks. “Nothing.”, he says, “I’m happy when you’re here.” – “I’m also happy when I’m here.” Then he plays guitar and she embraces him from behind. Only briefly, then she packs her suitcase. Lilly drifts between worlds and places. Looking for people and connections but remaining in the external. During rehearsals with the performance group Gob Squad, her thoughts and wishes thrive: words become actions. Back at the apartment, a letter from her home awaits her. Matt Porterfield calmly tells of the longing to arrive in quietly composed scenes.

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February 8, 10, 11, 13: Blood Below the Skin, dir. by Jennifer Reeder. Blood Below the Skin chronicles a week in the lives of three teenage girls who attend the same high school class. Coming from different social circles, the girls prepare for the most important night of their life – Prom Night. They have formed a dance group and rehearse the choreography. Two of the girls are drawn to one another and fall in love. The third is forced to take care of her distraught mother in the wake of her father’s disappearance. Each girl finds refuge in her room and bed, comfort and a place to explore new feelings. The music blasting from the turntable provides a magical synchronicity between them all – the space-time continuum is expanded by the dimension of music.

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February 9-11, 14: Counting, dir. by Jem Cohen. Jem Cohen’s newest film is a personal, essayistic documentary in 15 chapters. The director composes images, sound and music with remarkable intensity, combining them into a hypnotic foray through the metropolises of our world: New York, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Porto and a city intended to remain unknown. Time passes and stands still at the same time. The camera is like a magnet for attracting and capturing the ephemeral: Flickering lights in windows, bunting and plastic bags fluttering in the wind. Snapshots of places both popular and unknown and of people, striking observations of everyday life, a tender gauging of reality, snippets of voiceovers in passing. It is life itself that the director shows us. Jem Cohen is at once a flaneur and a street smart worker, with his film an archive of his steps – a storeroom replete with dreamlike memories, including ones of Chris Marker’s Chats perchés. Cats of all shapes and sizes appear in the frame again and again. Counting is like taking a Sunday walk through spatial and temporal interstices, as touching as it is magical.

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February 9, 11: Orchard Street, dir. by Ken Jacobs. Presented for the first time in the originally planned half-hour cut: Avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs’s first foray into the world of cinema – a document of the vibrant Jewish neighborhood in Manhattan where Jacobs grew up.

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February 9, 11: Cyclops Observes the Celestial Bodies, dir. by Ken Jacobs. “Cyclopean 3D is the most 3D a single eye can come up with. This means the celestial horde on display here can only seem to be galloping through space. Actual seeing into depth must be denied, it’s the law.” — Ken Jacobs

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February 10-13: The Yes Men Are Revolting, dir. by Laura Nix, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. After almost two decades of humorous guerrilla activism against economic greed and political corruption as The Yes Men, everyday life and a crisis of identity seem to have caught up with the duo: Mike Bonanno now has a wife and children, and Andy Bichlbaum has not given up hope of a lasting relationship with his male partner. Their critical interventions, in which amongst other ruses they pretended to be spokespeople for the US Chamber of Commerce or for Shell and announced a change of tack to nonplussed members of the press have fizzled out without having had the desired effect. Growing responsibilities in their private lives have influenced their ability to stage interventions together. In spite of this they still feel a duty to oppose climate change—which far overshadows any of humanity’s other problems—with all they have. Alternating between Andy and Mike’s diary-like perspectives, this third film about The Yes Men (2009 Panorama Audience Award), describes the ups and downs of a creative friendship and takes an amusing look at the duo’s successful and not so successful interventions from 2009 to the present.

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February 12, 14: Three Quarters, dir. by Kevin Jerome Everson. Two magicians practice their sleight of hand tricks with cards, cotton and silver coins. Shot in silent black and white.

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