Sunday, March 25, 2012

Notes on The River by Jean Renoir, India/USA: 1951

For around 20 years I am in love with this film and for a reason hard to understand for myself I always failt to realize a long essay on this film.
But this film is always with me and after a break it came back to life during my first trip to India and especially during the first time I attended a small performance of classical Indian dance.
There was always with me the passionate essay by André Bazin on The River called "a pure masterpiece" where Bazin defended this film against its critics.
No doubt for me if have to choose between The River and Renoir´s most famous film La Regle du Jeu, I always would choose The River.
Today I would even say this film is a kind of Renoir´s "Tree of Life". But it is always by far the only time in film history where a westerner made in a film in Asia and it became an Asian film.
Neither in America and Europe nor in India itself the film was much loved at the time of its release.

Several texts told already about the extreme bad conditions the film was made, the low budget, the heat, the problem that Renoir never knew for 2 weeks how the images he shot were looking like. It was the first color film shot in India and also Renoir´s first approach to work with colors.

And Renoir added in this film (an adaption from a novel by Rumor Godden who also was the co-writer of the screenplay) elements which were not in the novel. First of all he shot a lot of of documentary footage, recorded Indian music and added the story of an British-indian girl called Melanie, an inspiration which is the most precious element in this masterpiece. Neither Rumer Godden nor the producer were very happy with this. Even though the subject was a coming of age -story about some British adolescent girls grown up in India, the narrative, explicit western point of view is always undermined with Renoir´s obsession for Indian landscapes, Indian people, Indian music and last but not least Indian colors or how suitable they were to be recorded by Technicolor at that time.

As I can´t agree with accusations against this film like exoticism, naivety, occidental sentimentality etc -  which came from critics from Europe, America and India at the same time - I still consider the film as an Asian film. How the small plot is structuring a lot of non-dramatic moments, very close to Ozu and much closer than any European or American will ever come to that, evokes one irony in film history. By accident The River was released in the same year like Ozu´s Bakushu and both films have a likely scene with some of the most sophisticated camera movements I have ever see. If we remember the beach scene in Bakushu where a camera movement suggests for a small moment the rotation of the earth, we have the pendant in Renoir´s film at the end, when the camera slides over the heads of Melanie, Valerie and Harriet ( again a movement which reminds us in the rotation of our planet) to the eternal flowing river. Both films are one of the most accessible films by their director´s, both films have on the surface a "light" character, both offer a lot of heart warming humor - and yet both films are the most ambitioned and most sophisticated these directors ever made. Last but not least, both films are unorthodox in their narrative style and by another accident, both films belong to the most beautiful films I ever saw in my life for more than 20 years.

There is the moment when the film reveals just a series of shots of some people just having an afternoon nap. You just see people sleeping like you see otherwise rather in films by Ozu than anywhere else. Just this small moment is unimaginable in European  nor in American cinema. But after all the whole film really could have take place in all places of the world. I agree with Bazin that despite the fact Ray saw this film in the 1970s, around 20 years after it was made and despite how much Ray was reserved against The River, there is an affinity to the Apu-trilogy and too some other films Ray made. There is like I mentioned an affinity to Ozu and even a prophecy to great films made in the following 60 years. Even though Renoir is a quite different cinematic temperament, the poetic structure of the images can evoke even Malick´s The Tree of Life.

One key scene of this film is Harriet reading a self written story to the crippled Lt. John and Valerie about the eternal circles of life. A young woman gives birth to a girl who grows up and marries. And again the story continues to an endless circle. As an English girl, Harriet knows a few real Indians and includes in this story Indians she knows like Melanie and Anil. Heart of this scene is Melanie´s (Radha Bournier´s Kuchipudi- dance, obviously part of Renoir´s recorded documentary footage. This seemingly harmless story told by a girl in her adolescence enfolds one of the most complex and self-reflective moments in Renoir´s work.

How ridicule it is to blame this film for naivety or superficial exotic attractions, is that that the perspective India seen from western eyes is always part of the whole film. Lt. John the American crippled and mentally disturbed by the war on the search for himself, even more explicit the search of the Anglo-Indian Melanie for the culture where she belongs to or the old Mr. John who is almost absorbed by India after the death of his Indian wife are like the adolescent girls or the boy who is obsessed by snakes a real kaleidoscope of point of views.The rest of India (the film takes obviously place some decades before India´s independence) is relatively seldom present in the plot. Ray once described his disappointment when Renoir said that it is rather a film about English in India with hardly Indian characters and even made for western audience. The fact he added Melanie as a character to the film seems almost like a reaction of Renoir on that criticism and without doubt she is the missing link between the intimate life of an English family and the "real" India which begins behind the wall of the garden.
And much more than Renoir probably intended during making this film, through Melanie and his own documentary footage this film opens much more up to a more complex image of India at this time.
It shouldn´t be forgotten that Renoir knew very few about India. It was the South Indian actress Radha Bournier, a classical Indian dancer who introduced Renoir especially to Indian art like dance and music. She must have been a kind of guide for Renoir and he finally integrated her in the film against the dislike of Rumor Godden. The fact he really learned about India by traveling through it and by meeting people from India must have been the most important influences.

It is written already that the recorded film matter Renoir had together when he returned to Los Angeles was quite a mess. There was the low budget which made it impossible to do any re shootings and his daring experiment to work with professional and non-professional actors was not always lucky. We really don´t know how much of matter was useless. It is even not known if Renoir intended to integrate the documentary matter he shot in India.
But he had no choice to combine the film´s fiction with these matter. I don´t know if it was intended to be used for the film, but finally Renoir had chosen to use Indian music he recorded in India for the film. Finally it was the editing work who really made this film what it is now. The River was made but actually "happened" at the same time. The River was as well the final destination of his odyssey which began with his escape from France occupied by the Nazis through Italy and finally Hollywood where he was frustrated.

We can imagine Renoir in a lot of characters in this film: the crippled soldier (in fact Renoir was wounded in World war I. and was close to loose a leg), in Melanie who is split between her Indian and English identity, in the children Bogey and Harriet or in Mr. John who is totally absorbed by India. After exile, his unhappy experiences in Hollywood, Renoir was himself in a period where he was looking hardly for his place in this world. Last but not least, The River is the quintessence of Renoir´s deep love for the physical world. How the statues of the gods and goddesses made out of the loam of the river, after the religious celebrations they will brought back to the river where they will become again loam, Renoir reveals as well at the the scene about celebration of color the pigment powder all the colors around us are made of. The light, the water, the heaven, the loam ground, the people and the animals one can call The River as a nearly religious celebration of the matter of the world.

The fiction in this film is like the house with garden and wall. In the moment when Renoir opens this "house", the fictional idea of India to the rest of the world, Renoir opens the idea to real matter. The result is this film which never let me go.

Rüdiger Tomczak

remarks. the film was 2004 fully restored and who else than Martin Scorsese, one of the most passionate preserver of the heritage of cinema was again involved. The latest DVD from Criterion or BFI are all based on this restoration.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Notes on Hugo by Martin Scorsese, USA: 2011

Beside being a great director, Scorsese got in the last years almost more attention for his efforts and his support in preserving films from different parts of the world and from different periods of the history of cinema. HUGO which is last but not least obviously a homage to Georges Méliès (1861-1938)., is the poetic version of his devotion for cinema. 
Despite my inability of stereoscopic seeing, HUGO is using the 3D-technique for much more than a superficial attraction. There is an analogy in this film with the hint to the famous film by the Lumiére brothers "A train arrives at the Station" and this technique of the early 21th century. Both are part of the phenomenon of illusion, a betrayal based on the limitation of the human eye.
Beside the fact that Scorsese tries to use 3D in a sophisticated way like it was never used before, the characters in this film, the young orphan Hugo, his new friend Isabelle the foster daughter of the George   Méliès and "Pa George" himself, performed by Ben Kingsley are as present than as the digitalized Paris of the late 1920s or early 1930s. During watching this film I thought a lot of the films by Jacques Tati and if I think how he would have used the newest digital technology of our time, I can imagine it would look like something very close to Scorsese´s HUGO.
Among the miracles this film offers is how Scorsese combines the fantasy world of the boy and the link to the tragedy of the real   Méliès.
The boy, called Hugo lives in something like the "dreams", Melies was creating until world war I. which finished his career as one of the first magicians of cinema.
In fact even just as a children film, HUGO is a beautiful piece of cinema. But one can see even the sophisticated side of Scorsese who know like only very few great contemporary directors how fragile cinema is , how soon a master from today will be forgotten tomorrow and last but not least how fragile the matter of cinema really is. The boy who lives in a secret place of a central Parisian station lives not really in a safe fantasy world. He is always in danger to be captured by a really Tati-like station policeman who sends all orphans to the orphanage. Always when Hugo leaves his kind of "Ivory tower" he is chased by this policeman or endangered in several ways. Even the grumpy and embittered old   Méliès is at first a threat to him. Scorsese´s created illusions seem to be as fragile. The more the film develops the more it reveals the tragedy of the nearly forgotten pioneer of cinema, George   Méliès. And the more the film develops, the characters are getting more presence than all the impressing apparatus, the film is made with. How Hugo and his new friend Isabelle get more and more aware that this grumpy old man is a forgotten pioneer of cinema, there is a rupture in the fantasy world of the children. This film is so much and last but not least as well a coming of age story. 
The realm of Hugo, a kind of hidden place every child is dreaming of is close to us all who love cinema since our childhood. The world outside of cinema as a safe place for our dreams is the fact that the history of cinema also destroyed whole careers. As fairy tale-like HUGO appears, it is clear in its polarization of cinema as a place for dreams and creativity but also as an institution which is always influenced for the better or for the worse by the state of the world. I do agree with most of the positive statements about HUGO that it is at first a homage to cinema itself. At the same time it tells about its endangerment by economical, in some cases as well political interests. Scorsese is able to reveal this polarization without betraying this kind of love we cinephiles once felt for cinema.
There are moments in this film when Hugo can slip into his hidden realm of dreams and there are moments where it is not possible anymore. There is a time the children are just happy to be in their own world of fantasy and there is a time when they have to deal with the world outside in a bigger context. "Pa George" is both the great storyteller and magician we adore but as well a fragile old man who needs help.
HUGO is quite an example that enchantment, magic is possible without betrayal. Scorsese this film historian, this cinephile and last but not least this preservation of the heritage of cinema brings two things in this film together: the deep love and respect for the history of cinema including its forgotten pioneers and  at the same time the hope for the future of cinema. Like I said about Terrence Malick´s THE TREE OF LIFE, I will say about HUGO: there is not "one bad bone in this film."
Scorsese is not only one of the few director´s of "New Hollywood" who are still making films because of the compromises he had to made during the last 30 years. No, that he still make films - and in the case of HUGO his finest film since AGE OF INNOCENCE - is that he kept alive his unconditional love for cinema. And cinema needs this lover more than ever before. 

Rüdiger Tomczak

There is a wonderful essay by Adam Cook in his magazine Cinémezzo called "For the Love of Movies."


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Banbian Ren (Ah Ying) by Allen Fong, Hong Kong: 1983

Ah Ying is a young fish market seller who wants to become an actress. She comes from a big family and this family lives cramped in a small apartment in Hong Kong. There is the fish market. We see hands which scale fishes or cut off their heads. A crowd is standing around. The whole family is busy with selling and preparing fish. A few moments later we see the apartment of the family: two rooms where any square centimeter is used with remarkable inventiveness. At evening dinner the whole family is gathering. Ah Ying is listening rock music with headphones which we hear with her ears and which becomes almost inaudible quiet as she takes of the ear phones. The parents are exhausted and the father is drunk. He is stumbling through the narrow rooms. In the room where his six daughters are sleeping in bunk beds he is almost falling. Ah Ying helps him up. The ones who haven´t here dreams anymore are doomed. Allen Fong sees the world sometimes with painful accuracy. But at the same time he loves the people he is filming. To tell about the things you love most in the world is probably the most beautiful reason to make films.

Ah Ying at the reception room of the Film Culture Center of Hong Kong. A friendly assistant introduces her to this institution. She can participate for free in all classes for directing and acting. As a contribution for membership she has to do from time to time some work here like cleaning and she is also asked for writing some articles for the film magazine owned by this institution. From a small movie theatre we see her and another person cleaning the film projector and the projection cabin. We see three rectangular windows through which the movements of the cleaning people look like three projected little films.

After her work at the market, Ah Ying washes herself to get rid of the smell from the fishes. She attends a course for acting. Cheung, a script writer who just returned from the USA is the teacher of this class. He is limping and introduces himself with a short performance in Cantonese. Why do you want to become actors, he asks. For earning money or for becoming famous, answer some of the students. Ah Ying answers that she just wants to learn something more.
In one shot we see her nervousness in the movements of her feet which permanently slip in and out of her sandals. In another performance, Cheung is blowing rings out of the smoke from his cigarette. Than he asks his shy students to perform. Nobody answers and just at the moment Cheung will finish this class, Ah Ying stands up walks shyly to the desk and lifts the bag of the teacher aside. First she list a cigarette and blows rings than she performs standing at her fish market. Than she sings a song in English and she sings it with such heartiness as this were be the most beautiful thing she has to give. If I had only a few minutes time to introduce this film, I would choose this small wonderful moment. And I would not say anything more. This is the moment I fall in love with this film.

In a book store Ah Ying meets the teacher Cheung. I sell fish she answers shyly when he asks what she does for her living. He is telling her about his bad paid jobs he did in America for financing his education. They understand each other about the work which is necessary for realizing their dreams. In a fast food restaurant they are talking about music. Ah Ying´s favorite musicians David Bowie or Brian Eno are unfamiliar to Cheung but he likes Simon & Garfunkel. Ah Ying sings a verse from "Scarborough Fair". He likes this songs and intones it in the Peking Opera style. The other guests are applauding and he thanks his "audience".

Cheung is working on a screenplay about contemporary Hong Kong. For this project he is collecting stories of people he knows including Ah Ying. "Imagine", he tells her, " in 100 years nobody will know how we have lived." We don´t know  exactly during watching this film that Cheung and Ah Ying are real persons but we feel it nevertheless by heart. The actress playing Ah Ying, Hui So-Ying  performs herself, the character of Cheung is based on a friend by Allen Fong who passed away close before the film was made. He was also in reality Hui So-Yings acting teacher.

In one scene Cheung´s old rusty "Volkswagen" stops working in the middle of a city road. This road bypasses windows of apartments. We see one of these flats from the perspective of a dweller who hands Cheung and Ah Ying the telephone for calling help. We see this room once more this time deserted. In all playfulness in all the concomitance of reality and story telling as well in its mixture - the real places keep something like their own independence.

From a certain moment on there are a lot of conversations in this film which are filmed like in a documentary. Once Cheung meets Ah Ying´s former boyfriend, visits her family in this cramped apartment and talks with her parents. In this moments Cheung seems to be like Allen Fong who makes researches for his film. Sometimes we see Cheung arguing with his producer about the screenplay. They were friends in their student days and together they dreamed once of making good films. Times have changed, answered the producer while permanently suggesting Cheung for compromises.
One Night Cheung and Ah Ying make a walk around the haven. A gigantic luxury liner is departing. She tries him to tell about her feelings for him. Than we see them from a long shot. And their dreams seems now fragile and forlorn.

The acting students  at their rehearsals for a play. After some problems between Ah Ying and Cheung who play the main characters, the premiere takes place. Even Ah Ying´s parents are applauding proudly. But after the play is over, she goes to the washing room and cries. The performed feeling on the stage about love which is only fulfilled in the Hereafter,  she takes with her into her own reality. This feeling performed on the stage is echoing in her like in ourselves. While watching a film which moved us a lot we try to connect own personal experiences with the situations we saw in the film.

Later Cheung takes farewell from Ah Ying. He will go to the USA for getting surgery for his leg. Together with them we see how the old Volkswagen will be scrapped. This vehicle, this thing which witnessed so much stories becomes a compact bunch of metal.
After this farewell, Ah Ying is again in her apartment. An argument with her brother and she is alone again in the depressing narrowness and she is again alone with her dreams.

At the end she is called by a casting agent for a television channel. In front of a long table three persons are sitting. She sits face to face to them in a certain distance. She recites a small love scene. And than she says a sentence which moved me like the song at the beginning of the film. She answers the question why she wants to become an actress that she is selling fishes at the market. "There was a time", she continues, that she refused to admit this but today she does not feel anymore ashamed. That is an incredible sentence which has also to do with the utopia of art that shall help us to deal with our life instead to replace it. Later at the fish market, the telephone is ringing again. Ah Ying has once more an interview with the television channel. The mother becomes grumpy and mentions that her daughter shall better focus on selling fish. Than the camera travels back. Ah Ying and her family are hard to recognize in this crowd. They get back their anonymity. The image freezes.

The story of Hui So-Ying hits me in the middle of my heart and not only because of some parallels to my own story.  It is not only a film about ordinary people, it is rather a love song to them. Both aspects of cinema are evenhanded: the ability to give images about the reality but also about the dreams which helps us to deal with the often tough reality. Banbian Ren remains for me one of the most beautiful and most lovable films from the so called New Wave of Hong Kong Cinema I have seen..

Rüdiger Tomczak

(the text was published first time in German in shomingeki No. 6, October 1998 and is slightly changed for this post. Actually this publication was part of my covering of the International Filmfestival of Fribourg/Switzerland 1998 where two films by Allen Fong participated in a retrospective of Hong Kong-cinema. )

A German text on A LITTLE LIFE OPERA is available in my German Blog here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Yugant by Aparna Sen, India: 1995

(this is a note from shomingeki No. 6, October 1998 on the International Filmfestival of Fribourg and it is one of some shorter notes on other films).

One of the two Indian entries deals with a crisis of a relationship. YUGANT (What the Sea said), a film by Aparna Sen tells about a married couple who meet after a long time of separation for a reunion at the place they spent their honeymoon. He is  designer and she is a dancer. Aparna Sen interweaves the crisis of a wealthy couple with the common destruction of the ecological environment. Whole populations of regions will be relocated for making space for a fill dam. Both protagonists don´t have only permanently redefine their place in this marriage but they have also redefine their position as artist or businessman in the world. Casually we see in TV-news reports about oil contaminated beaches. At the end the sea is in flames. This all dominating fire is the final image of this film which begins as an intimate play and ends in an Apocalypse.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kyoto Uzumasa Monogatari (Kyoto Story) by Yoji Yamada and Tsutomu Abe


The film must have been made very quickly because when because when I was in Japan last November, I learned that Yamada was just in Kyoto shooting this film. Actually the film is a collective project between the Shochiku-company, the Ritsumeikan University, Yoji Yamada and his longtime assistant Tsutomu Abe (who is the co-director of this film). The fact that this film is made quickly and that it is at first a project for promoting procreation is not recognizeable in this film.

The film is a love story like it is written in the titles. The film is shot in the ancient quarter in Kyoto called Uzumasa where "the history of film is still alive". The film is made " in the strong hope and passion for the rebirth of cinema."
The film is both, a documentary about this quarter and the people who are living here. The story which is told in the film is build on this. The fictive and the documentary-aspect are standing equally side by side. Sometimes there is a domination of the documentary-aspect when the actors/protagonists are interviewed. Another time the film unfolds a love story which is nurtured by the ground of reality and which can always be retracked to that.

Kyoko is the daughter of an owner of a small cleaning shop. She works part time in a library. Her boyfriend Kota is the son of a Tofu maker.
This quarter still breathes the legend of the famous Daei-studios which produced famous films like Kurosawa´s Rashomon and Mizoguchi´s Ugetsu Monogatari. As the story of Kyoko and Kota is still imaginable as part of the reality in Uzumasa, the film adds another character, a young and clumsy sinologist. He falls in love with Kyoko when he lends very heavy books on chinese language from her library. Film as a document of the real world but as well as a realm of dreams are permanently interwoven. The films moves in both aspects with somnambulistic virtuosity.

There is the wonderful moment when Kyoko is with the young amorous sinologist in a coffee shop. While he is confessing his feelings to her and while he invites her to go with him to Tokyo and than to Peking the whole scene is filmed from outside and through the window. The fragment of a story  is double framed by the window and by the frame of the film image. This scene seems to me engrossed from the mostly strong presence of the streets, houses and people in this very concrete Quarter Uzumasa. In this tragic and comical moment there is as well an idea of a change. Even though Kyoko doesn´t seem to answer the feelings of the sinologist it awakes in her a longing to leave her always alike every day routine and the always alike quarter Uzumasa. It is like a light fog lays above the reality.

At the end we see Kyoko in a tram The sinologist´s offering to go to Tokyo with him, she has declined. She is sitting in the tram who rolls through the very real urban landscape of the city like after having visited a cinema hall which allowed her to dream for a while. The landscapes she drives through are real and concrete and at the same time like the fleeting echo of a dream which has a long aftermath which still works long after the film has ended.

Like I mentioned - even though the purpose of the film is to promote new talents it seems to me as well as a good access into the rich and not yet completely measured work of Yoji Yamada.
Kyoto Uzumasa  Monogatari is an example that a film can make us happy even when it leads us back to the real world  after a short dream.
Yoji Yamada´s 81th film Otouto was not even released - and yet he whips this film in a collective project with Tsutomu Abe as a wonderful gift. Just like that. If there is today in cinema something like a home for me than the films by Yoji Yamada.

Rüdiger Tomczak

translation from the german text published in shomingeki No. 22, May/June 2010.

on Yamada´s MUSUKO you find a text here

Monday, March 5, 2012

Aparna, ,Terry, Yonghi and me.-Berlin Filmfestival XII (outtake)

Everybody who talked with me about film in the last six years is very familiar with three names, Aparna Sen, Terrence Malick and Yang Yonghi (the two last ones are suspected by me for conspiracy in breaking my heart while the films by Aparna Sen have always the job to bring my cinephile vision of the world in order again as much as possible). Aparna Sens films always restore my confused and broken heart.
I have a crush on all three of them and my little heart can be happy that the Hou Hsiao Hsien-hype cooled off in the last years, that another darling among the living directors Vietnamese Dang Nhat Minh didn´t make a film for three years and most of all John Ford, Yasujiro Ozu, Jean Renoir, Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray are already in heaven.

While I really had very strong dreams about Hou Hsiao Hsien, Aparna Sen and even Terrence Malick, I don´t remember having dreams of my other darlings Dang Nhat Minh and Yang Yonghi. Maybe it is because I hugged them in reality several times whenever I met them.
I remember I dreamt once that Terrence Malick was praising in presence of my late mother (who dies long time ago before I even knew the name of Malick) my text on THE NEW WORLD!
More realistic two dreams of Hou Hsiao Hsien. Once I talked to him (like I do it to women I fell for). But he stood up after a while and explained that he doesn´t speak English. The second dream of Hou was an interview I made with him. He asked me what of his films I like most and I said, the Taiwan trilogy, A Time TO LIVE AND A TIME TO DIE and FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI. He made a gesture as to say "what these stupid films of mine?" Then - very realistic - he burst into laughter (most of interviews with Hou Hsiao Hsien end in laughter) and he hugged me. Believe it or not, I still have the smell of his aftershave in my nose!

I had also a very realistic dream of Aparna Sen just in the time 2006 when my "Mr. and Mrs. Iyer-hype" was following me into my dreams. I met her on a film festival with a huge Kafka-esque foyer. And I still remember exactly the words I said to her:" At the beginning I didn´t like MR. AND MRS: IYER at all. It took me three times and then a small scene between Kushboo and the old Muslim hooked me and I was in love with this film. In 2006 I really had a brief meeting with her in Kolkata and it was one of the dammed year when I saw THE NEW WORLD and DEAR PYONGYANG at the same Berlinale and when I was still obsessed by MR: AND MRS: IYER.

Nobody shall say I am shy, during my 25 years attending the Berlin Filmfestival I talked with quite a lot filmmakers around the globe, had even a drink with Hong sang-soo long before he became the leading film maker of South Korea. But three film makers make me shy like a school boy and the third one I even haven´t met yet. 2006 when I first talked with Yang Yonghi after having watched the third time DEAR PYONGYANG, I gave her with shivering hands a print issue of my film magazine and the only thing I could tell her was how much a very special scene reminded me in the decease of my mother. I am sure I was stammering. Maybe I was also stammering when I met Aparna Sen 9 months later at Kolkata TV, but at least I had an improvised translation of my long text on MR. AND MRS. IYER with me and felt a bit more self assured because I just fell in love with Kolkata (and a Bharatanatyam-dancer who looked like Madhavi Mukherjee). One of her co-workers was revealed to me by Aparna Sen as the actor who performed in MR. AND MRS. IYER a very brutal and violent Hindu-terrorist. Believe it or not - to me he looked like the sweetest and most peaceful man I ever saw in my life in reality.

Four years later, 2010, my cinephile year was again dominated by the "Troika" Aparna Sen, Terrence Malick and Yang Yonghi. First Yang Yonghi´s second masterpiece SONA; THE OTHER MYSELF at the Berlin Filmfestival which I saw three times and I was even more moved and obsessed like 4 years before with DEAR PYONGYANG. To get this film out of my mind I watched at the retrospective "60 years Berlin Filmfestival" THE THIN RED LINE by Terrence Malick. The introduction by David Thompson was such a fun, I shed tears in laughter as I shed tears for Yang Yonghi´s film in sadness. God thanks,  I sat in the first row. Just the beginning when a young deserter tells his comrade about his mother´s dying, my tears run like a waterfall. When I saw the third time SONA,  still the echo of THE THIN RED LINE in my mind, I was done.When I wrote in this year on SONA, I wanted to be alone with Yonghi and her film.  But than Malick and his THIN RED LINE "joined" us and I could´t chase him away. 
 In May I got the DVD of Aparna Sen´s masterpiece THE JAPANESE WIFE which came at the right moment and which let forget me for a while my suspicion of the "Malick-Yang"-conspiracy. The whole summer 2010 was an Aparna Sen-summer. After all I was lucky that Malick´s THE TREE OF LIFE wasn´t finished yet! The more I get older, the more temporary monogamy became my cinephilia.
I was lucky that 2011 I could spent all my heart blood for THE TREE OF LIFE until Aparna Sen´s next masterpiece ITI MRNILANI reached me in late autumn.

2011 I was looking forward to a year with only some decent slight hypes. Okay I saw Yang Yonghi´s newest film programmed at the Berlin Filmfestival. Even one of my former darlings among the living film makers Hou Hsiao Hsien was in town. I missed him unfortunately. He never answered my love letters, especially the one on GOOD MEN, GOOD WOMEN. Watched OUR HOMELAND like all films by her at the Berlin Film festival again three times and thought a film by Yang Yonghi is quite heartbreaking enough for a festival. Her first fiction film OUR HOMELAND is enough for at least 4 good films. Fine, I was happy the year started so early with a masterpiece like OUR HOMELAND, no film by Malick in sight after this cinematic big bang TREE OF LIFE, no new film by Aparna Sen. I felt like a person with three lovers. Two of them are busy and I can focus on only one. It is all a question of timing. As shy as I am I even intended to invite Yonghi for dinner, the non-official shomingeki-Award we can call it.
But than an incident happened which made me even more shy than I am.

It was in a restaurant called Mommsen-Eck near the festival region, at Potsdamer Platz. I was hungry and they had a smoking section. I had dinner and drank two whiskies (or three?), for not feeling alone, dreamed about meeting once Aparna Sen in Berlin etc. On a table on my right side they were three men, english speaking, beer drinking  and one of them -attention- looked like Terrence Malick! I am not gay but for a second or two even sweet beautiful Lady Yang faded out of my mind. Was this guy Malick or not. My heart was bumping and my stomach was close to a big bang like in sweet Sir Malick´s THE TREE OF LIFE. Than a young woman came and one of the guys said (or I imagined it, I am not sure I don´t want to be sure): (Thanks, you were a big help for (something like helping book a room for -attention Terry Malick" (!) I had already a complete speech in my mind like "Thank you Mr. Malick for the wonderful films, especially THE TREE OF LIFE etc. But I felt rather close to a stroke or something. My breath stopped and I was already red like a tomato, What the hell made me to stand up (and the stupid Berlinale press pass was pending around my neck), going to the table and asking stammering: "Excuse me, are you by accident  Terrence Malick?" "No, I am not Terrence Malick." I apologized 1000 times and went back to my seat with a purple red face, drank the last whisky like it was mineral water, paid and went out, unfortunately almost through the glass door.

After all it was not impossible that it could be Malick, because his productivity is so strong (4 films in the pipeline until next year) that he can´t show them all in Cannes. But anyway, I was shivering like a little girl in the 1960s who just saw Paul Mc Cartney in a restaurant and it took me three cigarettes to calm down.
I swear Mr, Malick, I only wanted to congratulate you for your last masterpiece. I would never have asked you an indiscreet question nor did I had the intention to ask about your films. No, I probably would have talked only about Yang Yonghi´s  and Aparna Sen´s films. Maybe I would have asked you about Sufism in your films - that I admit.

Anyway if it was Terrence Malick, than he turned me down so cold that my last bit of courage to invite sweet Lady Yang for dinner escaped me. My self confidence was for the next 24 hours quite a mess.
Sweet Lady Sen and sweet Lady Yang know already how much I adore their films and dammed I felt I was very close to a love confession to the third darling of my cinephilia among the living filmmakers.
Asks a son his mother in THE TREE OF LIFE: who do you love most of us all? Answers the mother: I love you all the same. 

And the moral of this is, I will never read Haruki Murakami when I attend a film festival.