2020 Berlin Film Festival Winners

The 70th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from 20th February to the 1st March 2020

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Golden Bear for Best Film:  There is no Evil directed by Mohammad Rasoulof

Silver Bear for Best Director:  Hong Sang Soo – The Woman Who Ran

Silver Bear for Best Actor:  Elio Germano – Hidden Away

Silver Bear for Best Actress: Paula Beer – Undine

Silver Bear for Best Script: Bad Tales by the D’Innocenzo Brothers

2019 Berlin Film Festival Winners

The 69th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from 7th to the 17th February, 2019

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Golden Bear for Best Film:  Synonyms directed by Nadav Lapid

Silver Bear for Best Director:  Angela Schanelec – I was at Home, But

 Silver Bear for Best Actor:   Wang Jingchun for So Long, My Son

Silver Bear for Best Actress:   Yong Mei for So Long, My Son

Silver Bear for Best Script: Maurizio Braucci, Claudio Giovannessi for Piranhas starring Francesco di Napoli, Viviana Aprea and Alfredo Turitto

2018 Berlin Film Festival Winners

The 68th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from 15th to the 25th February, 2018

The Berlin International Film Festival known as the Berlinale takes places annually in February and is regarded as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Golden Bear for Best Film:  Touch Me Not – directed by Adina Pintilie

Silver Bear for Best Director: Wes Anderson – Isle of Dogs  – starring Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham and Liev Schreiber

Silver Bear for Best Actor:   Cedric Kahn – The Prayer

Silver Bear for Best Actress:   Ana Brun – The Heiress

Silver Bear for Best Script: Alonso Ruizpalacios – Museo starring Gael Garcia Bernal

2019 Cannes Film Festival Winners

Palm d’Or:  Parasite directed by Bong Joon-Ho

Best Director:  Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes for Young Ahmed

Best Actor:   Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory

Best Actress:  Emily Beecham – Little Joe

Best Screenplay:   Celine Sciamma – Portrait of a Lady on Fire

2018 Cannes Film Festival Winners

Palm d’Or:  Shoplifters directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda

Best Director:  Paweł Pawlikowski for Cold War

Best Actor:   Marcello Fonte for Dogman

Best Actress:  Samal Yeslyamova for Ayka

Best Screenplay:   Jafar Panahi and Nader Saeivar for 3 Faces &   Alice Rohrwacher for Happy as Lazzaro

73rd BAFTA Awards

THE  73rd BAFTA AWARDS /

THE BRITISH ACADEMY FILM AWARDS

Took place on Sunday 2nd February 2020 in London

at the Royal Albert Hall

BAFTA Winners in the Film Category:

Best Film: 1917

Best Director: Sam Mendes

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker

Best Actress: Renee Zellweger – Judy

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern – Marriage Story

Best British Film: 1917

Best Original Screenplay: Han Jan-Win – Parasite

Best Adapted Screenplay: Taika Waititi – JoJo Rabbit

Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran – Little Women

Best Visual Effects: 1917

Best Foreign Language Film: Parasite directed by Bong Joon-Ho   

Rising Star Award: Michael Ward

Kings of the Jungle

The Gentlemen

Director: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Jeremy Strong, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Eddie Marsan, Samuel West, Geraldine Somerville

Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) plays entrepreneurial American gangster Mickey Pearson as he takes on British society along with his right hand man Ray wonderfully played by King Arthur star Charlie Hunnam is the new Guy Ritchie action film The Gentlemen which is definitely aimed at the British blokes.

Complete with foul language and an array of fascinating and dubious characters from the Jewish Billionaire Matthew played by Jeremy Strong, the Cockney Cleopatra played against type by Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Chinese mafia heavyweight Dry Eye played by Henry Golding (Crazy, Rich Asians), The Gentlemen skilfully navigates a web of intrigue as Pearson tries desperately to outwit these bunch of fellow gangsters.

All masterfully told with a kind of camp gossip by the sleazy journalist Fletcher also beautifully played against type by Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins, Maurice, The Man From Uncle). Guy Ritchie directs this convoluted storyline in his usual retro-editing fashion and self-reflexive style which has become his cinematic trademark.

Thankfully, Ritchie has returned from his brief sojourn directing the Disney classic Aladdin is quite at home the genre of the British gangster flick which is synonymous with his name.

Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Widows, Roman J. Israel, Esq.) makes a brief but relevant appearance as Coach as he mentors a group of housing estate hoodlums which inadvertently work for Mickey Pearson and magically trick various opponents out of the highly coveted stash of weed, which the crime boss is so cleverly concealing on British country estates. Between the Jewish Billionaire, Dry Eye and Pearson, all of them are vying for the title of King of the Jungle.

From hoodies to cultured lords, The Gentleman is a masterful and clever story, told with dexterity by Guy Ritchie while showcasing the full diversity of London as the multi-cultural British capital city.

Samuel West (The Darkest Hour, Howard’s End, On Chesil Beach) makes a brief appearance as Lord Pressfield whose daughter has got caught up with a bunch of junkies.  

Director Guy Ritchie makes a play on all the connotations of what a Gentleman is meant to be: noble, kind, loyal as he names this violent, foul-mouthed and exciting gangster flick The Gentlemen which is not surprising from a creator of such films as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

If viewers are looking for a brilliant British gangster flick, then look no further than The Gentlemen which gets a film rating of 8 out of 10. It’s a twisty, violent and flamboyant gangster film featuring an array of super cool characters and crackling dialogue.

Even Birds are Chained to the Sky

Moffie

Director: Oliver Hermanus

Cast: Kai Luke Brummer, Ryan de Villiers, Hilton Pelser, Matthew Vey, Stefan Vermaak, Wynand Ferreira

Please note this film is mostly in Afrikaans with English Subtitles

After premiering at the prestigious 2019 Venice International Film Festival and then going on to be shown at the London Film Festival among many other international film festivals including Marrakesh, Rotterdam and Palm Springs, South African director of Skoonheid, Oliver Hermanus successfully deconstructs patriarchy in his powerful and controversial new film Moffie set in Apartheid South Africa during compulsory military conscription in 1981 when the government at the time was fighting the communist regime in Angola known as the border war. Moffie opens in South African cinemas on Friday 13th March 2020.

Heavily influenced by queer film director Tom Ford, Moffie is a superb film expertly exploring the concepts of male sexuality in a war zone.

Director Oliver Hermanus threads a delicate tale of unrequited love between two military scabs or new army recruits Dylan Stassen played by Ryan de Villiers and the central character Nicholas Van der Swart beautifully played by the gorgeous Kai Luke Brummer.

During a strenuous basic training sequence whereby the new army recruits are left in some deserted part of Southern Africa and have to survive in a trench together over night, de Villiers and Van der Swart find an awkward solace by recognizing each other’s mutual desire.

What makes Moffie so emotionally powerful is that unlike in Skoonheid, Hermanus does not resort to the explicit but more towards what could have been as de Villiers and Van der Swart have to each endure their own personal journey in an extremely toxic masculine environment fraught with fear, aggression and a double-edged comradery between the young army recruits.

Viewers must watch this film as a historical piece about a particularly unpleasant part of South African history pre-1994, where conservatism ruled over individualism and the military machine demonised homosexuality.

Moffie is a brutal and honest look at sexuality and war, a beautiful tale with some vivid scenes punctuated by some harsh dialogue and deeply disturbing images. Ultimately, director Oliver Hermanus has created his masterpiece, a concerted cinematic effort about the nature of being queer while exploring an unforgiving environment which does not allow for personal expression or sexual freedom.

As Stassen and Van der Swart navigate this treacherous world in which the film is set in, Stassen makes a point of inscribing their predicament: Even Birds are Chained to the Sky.

Moffie gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is definitely worth seeing. This remarkable piece of cinema will become a relevant discussion point in contemporary South Africa and in the wider world where queer rights are enshrined in more liberal constitutions.

Prosperity and Indulgence

Emma

Director: Autumn de Wilde

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Mia Goth, Bill Nighy, Miranda Hart, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Connor Swindells

Thank you to United International Pictures for the UIP Film Preview of Emma held on Wednesday 4th March 2020 at Suncoast CineCentre in Durban, South Africa.

Director Autumn de Wilde’s sassy interpretation of the Jane Austen novel Emma into a gloriously lavish film version is not to be missed.

Mia Goth (left) as “Harriet Smith” and Anya Taylor-Joy (right) as “Emma Woodhouse” in director Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA, a Focus Features release. Credit : Focus Features

This delightful and devilishly romantic comedy of manners set in the early part of the 19th Century in rural England before the Napoleonic wars during the crest of romanticism in English Literature features a fabulous cast of hot young American and British film stars including Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma, handsome and blonde blue-eyed British actor Johnny Flynn as George Knightley, Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness) as the impressionable Harriett Smith and Callum Turner as the dashing and incorrigible Frank Churchill who survived solely on prosperity and indulgence.

Emma ill-advises the sweet and innocent Harriett not to accept the marriage proposal of tenant farmer Mr Martin played by Connor Swindells, while into the mix of romantic intrigue is thrown the fascinating and musically accomplished Jane Fairfax played by Amber Anderson (The Riot Club) whose talents prove to rival that of our rich and clever heroine.

Anya Taylor-Joy (left) as “Emma Woodhouse” and Johnny Flynn (right) as “Mr. Knightley” in director Autumn de Wilde’s EMMA, a Focus Features release. Credit : Focus Features

Through gorgeous balls, dinners and sumptuous afternoon teas and the obligatory summer picnic, romances blossom and are duly crushed while throughout Emma Woodhouse has to re-evaluate her own feelings for the ubiquitous George Knightley who has a convivial relationship with Emma’s hypochondriac father Mr Woodhouse wonderfully played with sly comic genius by Bill Nighy (Love Actually, The Bookshop).

Other superb supporting actors in Emma include Rupert Graves (A Room with a View, Death at a Funeral, Maurice,) as Mr Weston, Miranda Hart (Spy) as Miss Bates and Gemma Whelan from HBO’s hit series Games of Thrones as Mrs Weston.

Director Autumn de Wilde’s refreshingly bright and gorgeous cinematic retelling of Emma is definitely worth seeing and gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoy clever romantic comedies especially inspired by the smart writings of Jane Austen naturally infused with the dry British sense of humour.

Hopefully, this version of Emma will inspire the millennials to pry their eyes away from smartphones and rediscover the witty literature of Jane Austen whose refined comedy of manners included an array of famous romantic novels including Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.

Marching Forward

Little Women

Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Louis Garrel, James Norton, Bob Odenkirk

Ladybird director Greta Gerwig skilfully adapts Louisa May Alcott’s bestselling 19th century American novel Little Women for 21st century audiences although her non-linear approach to storytelling could confuse viewers that are not familiar with the original story of the trials and tribulations of the March sisters in Concord, Massachusetts during and after the American Civil War.

Fortunately for Gerwig she manages to assemble an exceptional cast in her gorgeous cinematic remake of Little Women including Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, Ladybird) as the headstrong writer Jo, Emma Watson (The Bling Ring) as the more grounded older sister Meg and the dazzling Florence Pugh as the younger sister Amy.

Oscar winner Laura Dern (Marriage Story) plays the four sisters mother Mamie and Bob Odenkirk briefly appears as the girls’ wayward father. Eliza Scanlen plays the youngest sister Beth who is excellent at piano playing.  

What is most impressive about Little Women is the brilliant casting of the male parts in this version, particularly Oscar nominee Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation) as Laurie’s grandfather Mr Laurence and French actor Louis Garrel (The Dreamers, Saint Laurent) as Jo March’s love interest Professor Friedrich Bhaer.

There is also British actor James Norton who was dazzling as Stephen Ward in the BBC series The Trial of Christine Keeler who is cast as Meg’s love interest John Brooke, a penniless tutor.

Little Women is gorgeously shot and the costumes are beautifully designed by Jacqueline Durran who deservedly won her second Oscar for Costume Design for this film.

Equally invigorating is the absolutely brilliant performances of both Saoirse Ronan as the headstrong writer Jo March and that of Florence Pugh as the gorgeous but spoilt younger sister Amy, who received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Little Women.

Florence Pugh is really a young star to look out for as her performance is formidable especially opposite screen legend and multiple Oscar winner Meryl Streep (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, The Iron Lady) as the wealthy and righteous Aunt March as she accompanies the affluent relative to Paris.

Little Women is a gorgeous film, beautifully directed and should be applauded for giving so many young actresses a chance to shine in an exceptionally well-cast and directed film.

Little Women gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing for everyone. A sparkling triumph set in 19th century America where men had every opportunity and women had to fight for everything or marry a rich husband.

Film Directors & Festivals
Review Calender
October 2020
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