Bear in Mind: The Berlin Film Festival 2009
BY Lawrence Ferber
February 26 2009 1:00 AM ET
A few titles fell far
shorter of audience expectations, including Lukas Moodysson's (
Show Me Love
which was loudly booed at its press screening, and Sally
) murder-in-the-fashion-world faux documentary,
An example of formalistic minimalism gone completely wrong,
boasts an amazing cast, including Jude Law in drag and a
joint-smoking Dame Judi Dench, but they simply talk directly to
the camera, a colored background the sole visual flourish.
"It should've been an art installation at the Whitney,"
clucked one discontented viewer.
about Hungary's famed virgin-blood-soaking Countess Bathory,
lacked lesbian bite. Conversely, groundbreaking German
filmmaker Monika Treut's
a totally sapphic culture-crossing drama-cum-mystery about a
Hamburg artist and her Taiwanese girlfriend, scored mixed to
negative reviews. Other titles that inspired conversations and
buzz amongst festgoers and industry: Hong Kong filmmaker Kit
Soundless Wind Chime,
an artful, melancholy tale of love and loss; Greece's
which features a lurid twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan
The Fish Child,
Lucia Puenzo's downbeat romantic follow-up to
and Jochen Hick's
The Good American,
an unglamorous slice-of-life documentary about Tom Weise, the
HIV- and hep C-positive creator of
and hustler party Hustlaball.
Even if some works fell
short in their critical reception or execution, 2009's was an
adventurous and conventions-defying queer slate and a
boon for lovers of experimental cinema, and quite appropriately
the Teddy ceremony closed with a rendition of "Walk on the
Wild Side" with Nena Hagen, Joey Arias, Sherry Vine, and
Berlin's own towering drag queen Gloria Viagra.