Berlinale Classics 2017
USA 1977, directed by Woody Allen
Alvy Singer, a Jewish comedian and New Yorker, has been on the psychiatrist’s couch for 15 years. Here, he is busy analysing his relationship with singer Annie Hall. In flashbacks, we get a glimpse of the childhood he experienced as traumatic. So it is no surprise that the highly-talented and precocious child, after a mediocre career as a stand-up and two failed marriages, is now in a midlife crisis. He finds a charming, screwed-up opponent in “polymorphously perverse” Annie Hall. What a shame that their cinematic, culinary, literary, erotic and social needs diverge more often than not ... In loosely-constructed scenes full of gags and pithy one-liners, Woody Allen, with his star Diane Keaton, created a putative self-portrait, in which educated cinema audiences all over the world could recognise themselves. The use of modern estrangement effects, such as clips from TV shows and comic strips, also made the movie a tour de force of filmmaking. Annie Hall won four of the five Oscars it was nominated for; only Woody Allen himself failed to garner the Best Actor statuette. – World premiere of the digitally restored 4K DCP version.
Israel 1986, directed by Rafi Bukaee
The Sinai Peninsula in June 1967 at the end of the Six-Day War. Two Egyptian soldiers get rid of their weapons and begin to make their way home. On their odyssey through the desert, they meet Israeli patrols, a dead UN peacekeeper with a considerable store of whiskey and a British tabloid reporter. When the Israeli soldiers refuse to accept the Egyptians as prisoners of war, the wanderers befriend the “enemy” and even provide support when the Israelis’ route takes them into a minefield ... Much like the one the director Rafi Bukaee (1957 – 2003) was treading with this film. His black comedy about the absurdity of war was the first Israeli film in which Arab roles were played by Arab actors. No less controversial was the scene in which one of the Egyptians appeals for sympathy from the Israelis by reciting Shylock’s famed lines from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice”: “I am a Jew [...] If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Avanti popolo has long since been regarded as one of the most important and most popular films in Israeli cinema history. – International premiere of the digitally restored 2K DCP version.
Mexico 1976, directed by Felipe Cazals
It is 1968 in Mexico. Students in the capital are rebelling; the unrest has also reached the Autonomous University of Puebla. Five young university employees set out on a hiking expedition and are forced to spend the night in nearby San Miguel Canoa after getting caught in a storm. The town is ruled over by a fanatical priest who has long been preaching against “communist agitators”. When the young men take shelter from the storm with one of the padre’s critics, his diatribes incite the townspeople to attack them ... The film is a chronicle of impending death. In pseudo-documentary style, it starts with fictitious interviews that, in fact, prepare us for the depiction of real events. The local priest and the religious hysteria he fomented, which ends here in an orgy of violence, really existed. With its blow-by-blow reconstruction and highly dramatic intensity, this thriller by Felipe Cazals is as realistic as it is disturbing; a masterpiece of Mexican cinema. At the 1976 Berlinale, Canoa was awarded the Silver Bear (Special Jury Prize). – World premiere of the digitally restored 2K DCP version.
GB 1987, directed by James Ivory
At King’s College, Cambridge in 1909, fellow students Maurice Hall and Clive Durham feel more for each other than mere friendship. But sexual contact, never mind the “unspeakable vice of the Greeks” as their Plato professor calls it, remains taboo. For fear of being ostracised, like one of their classmates, they keep their love secret. Later, after Clive has made a marriage befitting his station, they maintain a purely platonic friendship. When Maurice begins a relationship with the Durham’s gamekeeper, it seems as if he has found happiness ... Following their Oscar-winning turn with A Room with a View (1985), the team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant took on this second film based on a book by E.M. Forster; although the novel had been written in 1913/14, it could not be published until after his death in 1970. In melancholy tones, the film deals sensitively with the grief of a forbidden love. The rigorously detailed production design precisely captures the Edwardian zeitgeist, while at the same time, the exquisite composition of the camerawork reveals the narrow-mindedness of a society in which prudery and hypocrisy rule. – World premiere of the digitally restored 4K DCP version.
Night of the Living Dead
USA 1968, directed by George A. Romero
While visiting a cemetery, Johnny and his sister Barbra are attacked by a lumbering figure. Johnny is killed, while Barbra manages to escape to a nearby farmhouse, where she promptly stumbles over a dead body. As she tries in vain to phone for help, a horde of hulking attackers gathers outside. African-American Ben, who has also sought safety in the house, reports that there have been similar assaults all over the country. After nailing the windows and doors shut, they discover additional survivors in the cellar. Young Karen has been bitten by one of the “living dead” and is sick ... “They’re coming to get you, Barbra!” George A. Romero’s radical independent film, made in 1968, was a graphic tale of war and racism. It also established the zombie as an indelible icon in science and pop culture. Romero’s horror classic, which the Museum of Modern Art added to its collection in 1970, circulates in numerous versions. The festival is screening a restoration undertaken using the original negative. – International premiere of the digitally restored 4K DCP version.
(Black Gravel), West Germany 1961, directed by Helmut Käutner
The film is set in rural Germany in 1960, where the construction of a US airbase triggers a thriving black market and prostitution. Robert Neidhardt, who provides gravel for runway paving to the Americans, also uses his truck for illegal activities. During a tour, he accidently runs over an American soldier and the soldier’s girlfriend ... This thriller has been directed in a demonstratively (neo)realistic style, presenting a critical view of post-war WestGerman society. Helmut Käutner’s intent was to depict the “danger of neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic currents” and it opened at a time when audiences had been sensitised by the Adolf Eichmann trial. The chairman of Germany’s Central Council of Jews filed a criminal complaint of defamation. Käutner then edited out scenes containing Jewish references, as well as the “original ending, in which Neidhardt lies next to the dead body of his ex-lover Inge Gaines and buries himself in gravel. In the re-edited version, Inge lives and stays with her husband, while Robert flees to Luxembourg in a panic” (Jeanpaul Goergen, 2011). – World premiere of the digitally restored original version in 2K DCP.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D
USA 1991/2017, directed by James Cameron
It is 2029 and the nuclear holocaust is in the past. On Earth, people are fighting the all-powerful machines. The machines send a T-1000 “Terminator” android back to the 20th century to kill rebel leader John Connor while he is still a child. The resistance movement counters by sending an older model, the T-800, back to protect the 10-year-old boy. With John and his mother, the android attempts to halt the technological advances that will lead to the supremacy of the machines by destroying the research of the original software developer. As they flee from the T-1000 and the police, the trio encounters a formidable number of destructive and violent obstacles ... “T2” and its morphing effect broke new ground not just in terms of visual effects. Its ironic take on the humanisation of an android, its demonstrative use of advanced digital effects and a hip heavy-metal soundtrack brought what was the most expensive Hollywood blockbuster ever at the time not only huge box office returns, but also gave it enormous pop culture “cred”. – World premiere of the digitally restored 2K DCP version in 3D.