Bear in Mind: The Berlin Film Festival 2009

A very adult Rupert Grint, some insightful comments from Dustin Lance Black, and Julie Delpy's blood-soaked lesbian countess drama make for a colorful Berlin Film Festival.

BY Lawrence Ferber

February 26 2009 1:00 AM ET

BERLINale 2009 PEDRO XLARGE (PUBLICITY) | ADVOCATE.COM

A few titles fell far
shorter of audience expectations, including Lukas Moodysson's (
Show Me Love

)
Babel

-esque
Mammoth,

which was loudly booed at its press screening, and Sally
Potter's (
Orlando

) murder-in-the-fashion-world faux documentary,
Rage.

An example of formalistic minimalism gone completely wrong,
Rage

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.

Julie Delpy's
The Countess,

about Hungary's famed virgin-blood-soaking Countess Bathory,
lacked lesbian bite. Conversely, groundbreaking German
filmmaker Monika Treut's
Ghosted,

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
Hong's
Soundless Wind Chime,

an artful, melancholy tale of love and loss; Greece's
Strella,

which features a lurid twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan
uncomfortable;
The Fish Child,

Lucia Puenzo's downbeat romantic follow-up to
XXY;

and Jochen Hick's
The Good American,

an unglamorous slice-of-life documentary about Tom Weise, the
HIV- and hep C-positive creator of

Rentboy.com

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.

Tags: film

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