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.


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