Berlin 2012: Five hidden gems

This month sees the Berlin International Film Festival celebrate its 62nd incarnation, and the CineVue team members will be braving the cold weather, wheat beer and pork-based snacks of the German capital to bring you as much coverage as we can. Previously, we mentioned some of the highlights from the festival's recently released programme. However, the most fascinating aspect of the festival is often its Panorama and Forum strands, which year-upon-year house some of the most challenging and enjoyable pieces of world cinema. Here's a brief rundown of some of this year's potential highlights.

Iron Sky (dir. Timo Vuorensola)
Iron Sky is one of those films which never looked like it would see the light of day. Its ludicrous, yet intriguing tag line - 'In 1945 the Nazis went to the moon. In 2018 they are coming back' - has had B-movie and cult cinema fans on tenterhooks - and this year we'll get to see if this sci-fi parody's breathtaking mixture of high concept art and special effects will gain it the cult status it seems to be crying out for.

La Chispa de la Vida (dir. Alex de la Iglesia)
Renowned surrealist director Alex de la Iglesia took the Edinburgh International Film Festival by storm last year with The Last Circus, his outlandish love story of two feuding clowns who fall for the same woman. His latest film, La Chispa de la Vida (As Luck Would Have It) is a sharp satire about society's cultural dependency on the output of a sensation hungry media industry - telling the tale of a once successful media giant who finds himself forgotten until a tragic accident finds his him thrust under the prying eye of the media.

Friends after 3.11 (dir. Iwai Shunji)
Director Iwai Shunji made a name for himself with his beautifully crafted tale of adolescent confusion All About Lilly Chou Chou. His latest offering sees him move away from this heavily stylised approach to storytelling, exchanging fiction for fact and creating a deeply personal documentary about the devastating repercussions of the tsunami which hit Japan in March 2011. Gathering all the people who became important to him after this horrific event, he lets them tell their stories - allowing the audience a portal into the controversy which surrounded the event and in turn exposing some heavily repressed social concerns.

Rentaneko (dir. Naoko Ogigami)
A much lighter film to hail from the east is Rentaneko, which literally translates as Rent a Cat. This whimsical tale of self discovery follows Sayoko, a young girl who walks along the banks of the river with her small handcart renting out cats to lonely people. However, the arrival of a former lover soon exposes Sayoko's life, magnifying her own social hang-ups. Rentaneko looks like a film which could go one of two ways - either a remarkably twee and touching comedy or a hideously contrived romance desperate to appear cool and quirky.

Keyhole (dir. Guy Maddin)
Canadian director Guy Maddin is something of an anomaly - seemingly having found his own niche of creating deeply personal yet utterly unique filmmaking. Renowned for his exploration of surreal worlds and ghosts Keyhole appears to be no different and looks set to be a paranormal journey into the depths of the human psyche. Starring Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini and Udo Kier (who also appears in Iron Sky), Maddin's latest looks set to be one of the festivals most fascinating features, and if My Winnipeg is anything to go by, a profound and exhilarating experience.

We'll be reporting live from the Berlinale on 9-19 February, so stay tuned for all the latest reviews and news stories from this year's 62nd Berlin Film Festival. For more info, visit berlinale.de/en.

For more Berlin Film Festival 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.  

Patrick Gamble

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