What do you think of loving boys

Generation 2020: No Time for Ordinary Cinema

It is a world that is crying out for change: In the 43rd year of the section generation the young protagonists set the tone, face challenges and dare big leaps. A conversation with Section Leader Maryanne Redpath about the current overdose of exceptional situations worldwide and the power of cinema for film enthusiasts of all ages.

Noémie Merlant in jumbo by Zoé Wittock

Mariette Rissenbeek, the managing director of the Berlinale, only recently got the special program from again generation highlighted when it comes to getting young people excited about cinema. What makes the section so special in this regard?

The profile and program of generation give the answer to this question. For all other sections of this festival, the films are only accessible from the age of 18. In this respect, the question automatically arises what happens to people under the age of 18. Young people want to be part of the international cinema scene, and so should they, just like adults. Good cinema is good cinema, very simple. For young cineastes as for everyone else.

There are some classic motifs in this year's program, the big coming-of-age stories, for example.

Yes, coming-of-age stories are with generation at home, of course. In the course of a lifetime there are so many small steps and big leaps that we make. As a child, the height of the fall is usually much greater and can have dramatic effects. And the filmmakers know that from generation: Regardless of which aspect of life you look at - be it the cultural or political environment, family or ideas about your own body and sexuality - the consequences of all these things are immense for young people. For example, when you fall in love unhappily for the first time, the suffering is enormous, downright gigantic. As an adult, on the other hand, you get used to these ups and downs more and more. But as a teenager, that can literally eat you up, as in, for example jumbo by Zoé Wittock. The film depicts how the daughter's first great love, played by Noémie Merlant, puts a strong mother-daughter relationship to the test. The daughter's decision to let her feelings run free also confronts the mother - who is presented as a liberal, open-minded woman - with unexpected emotional challenges.

Lana Rockwell and Jabari Watkins in Sweet thing by Alexandre Rockwell

You have already mentioned the emotional intensity of the cinematic material. To what extent is this part of the program for you generation to?

Many people still have this idea in mind that a film for children should be light. However, this cliché often means that children are looked at but not seen. For me, the perspective is the most important thing: from what point of view is the story told, but also: who is watching and experiencing this film? As adults, we are invited to recognize and respect young people with all their experiences, experiences that can be very intense and existential even as children. generation-Films explore this space of experience, e.g. B. Alexandre Rockwells Sweet thing, who artfully succeeds in transforming his film, which initially looks like a tough social drama, into an almost fairytale-like, liberating road movie. The children flee from their precarious and dysfunctional family relationships and invent a childhood according to their own ideas with imagination, a portion of carelessness, but also in loving care for one another.

You speak of heroines in the program. Today, however, many young people no longer look for their role models in the cinema, but in social media. Influencers are the new idols. What can cinema do to counter this?

I want to disagree here. Year after year I notice a growing desire among young people to go to the cinema and watch films with others. Making this social experience possible, this exchange, also with the filmmakers in the conversations and encounters after the films, that is very central generation. The power of cinema should not be underestimated, its strength to create a shared moment and unforgettable experiences, sometimes even to be life-changing. There is enormous potential in this, which is sought and perceived by young people. The 70,000 spectators who attend the generation- Watching movies is proof of that.

Grace Orsato in Meu nome é Bagdá by Caru Alves de Souza

Does one of the hero characters of this year's program stand out for you?

There are so many! But yes, for example Bagdá inMeu nome é Bagdá(My name is Baghdad) by Caru Alves de Souza from Brazil, who plays in the skater milieu of São Paolo. Bagdá is surrounded by great women in her family and in the neighborhood, who give her a feeling of freedom and self-determination. In her clique in the skater park, however, there are mainly boys who approach her with a certain machismo. And against this she bravely defends herself: One of the boys is attacked, whereupon she and the other skaters confront him in front of everyone else and do not apologize for his behavior. A film where a no is a no.

This lived courage is shown here as a representative of many films in the program in which a female protagonist prevails. In Maïmouna Doucourés Mignonnes (Cuties) the young Amy is in constant conflict: At home she is surrounded by the traditional roles of her Senegalese family. At school, on the other hand, she suddenly meets girls who are very self-confident about self-determination and the discovery and representation of their burgeoning sexuality. You are strongly influenced by advertising and media role models. Amy has to navigate between these worlds. And in the end the film resolves their conflict in a wonderful way, I think: with a liberating leap into the air. But of course you have to see it in the cinema.

Las niñas (Schoolgirls), Pilar Palomero's debut film, tells of twelve-year-old Celia who attended a Catholic girls' school in Spain in the 1990s. Together with her friend, she defies the prevailing conservative value system step by step. The two create space to discover themselves. This age is particularly interesting: for girls, it is the time of the first menstruation, you get breasts, your whole body changes. It's a tender age: you're still a child, but you're already someone else. Like standing on a bridge ...

Noel Comia Jr, John Vincent Servilla, Jiggerfelip Sementilla and Kim Chloie Oquendo in Death of Nintendo by Raya Martin

The same goes for boys too, of course.

Absolutely. Boys also go through this phase of “being on the bridge”, which is universal and is influenced by so many factors. In Death of Nintendo from Raya Martin you can experience this with three boys in the Philippines, also in the 1990s. They want to grow up and make a journey to a shaman who is supposed to circumcise them: in their culture a traditional ritual of becoming a man. This coming-of-age story is brought to the screen with such ease that it is great fun to accompany your friends on their trip.
And there is also a very fine, Argentinian short film, El nombre del hijo (The Name of the Son) by Martina Matzkin. The main character, 12 year old Lucho, is a trans boy. At the end of the film he stands alone on the beach and looks lost at the sea. The worst is feared. Then the father steps up to him and there is a very touching and tender scene that has a long lasting effect.

In the program of generation young souls are often faced with major problems and challenges. What is so important to you about the immense tension that arises from it?

I see children and young people in the stories who are incredibly resilient, also because they often have no other choice. They have to be more grown up than the adults themselves, and sometimes they have to bear responsibilities that I believe no child should have. But the films create worlds and stories in which young people find the strength to assert themselves and thus give hope, set an example. We see young people rebelling, protesting. You move in a world full of exceptional situations. What they have in common is a fundamental, primal human lust for life. Children and young people feel this very strongly, they have a whole life ahead of them. Many of the stories we show are based on this lust for life: Haru, the protagonist from the Japanese film Kaze no Denwa (Voices in the Wind) meets her tragic fate, the loss of her family in the 2011 tsunami, with incredible emotional intensity. Serena Motola plays this young, grieving woman with a physical presence that will by no means leave the audience indifferent.

© Viacheslav Tsvietkov / Albatros Communicos, Moonmakers

The Earth Is Blue as an Orange by Iryna Tsilyk

However, at the end of the film it is not always clear whether the major challenges will be mastered ...

Many of the films leave an open ending, their protagonists are faced with the question: to go or stay? And so the question is passed on to the audience: How would you decide if, for example, your family is persecuted and killed because of their culture, their origins? Such films naturally challenge the audience, stimulate thought or motivate them to tell their own stories. Maintaining the balance between demanding and overwhelming is always a fine line for us as program makers, which we take very seriously - also when interacting with the audience.
In Atiq Rahimis Notre-Dame du Nile (Our Lady of the Nile) young Hutu and Tutsi grow up together in Rwanda's highest boarding school for girls. The growing tensions in society do not stop at their orderly world and are already dramatically showing what will later escalate into a devastating genocide. Some of the films simply cannot promise a happy end, because the realities of their protagonists are just as the films show them: In Perro a boy has to leave his home because the planned construction of the El Gran Canal is forcing the indigenous community of Bangkukuk in Nicaragua to relocate. The family in The Earth is Blue as an Orange lives in the middle of the Ukrainian war zone and tries to process her experiences of the war by telling stories and making films herself. It is about overcoming internal and external boundaries and thus defying the everyday with the means of poetry and imagination.

You give age recommendations for the films from the generation Program. What does this process look like?

The recommendations are always open to the top, which is unusual in the festival world. It is usually said that a film is suitable for children aged six to eight, for example. We only state a lower age limit and thus invite a broad spectrum of viewers to the films. I also find that there are often differences in perception and life experience between people of the same age. We are aware that we have a great responsibility, we discuss every single age recommendation intensively as a team. In the end I stand for it.

How do filmmakers react?

They are very happy about the invitation. Some are surprised when their film is to be considered a “children's film”. Especially Kplus is still considered the "kids thing" for some. A large number of the films in this competition are not superficial or made only for children and we can understand the filmmakers' doubts in this case: The label “Children's Film” is misleading and arouses certain expectations that we deliberately do not want to serve. Kplus stands for unconventional, contemporary cinema from all over the world. I convey that to the filmmakers and they experience incomparable performances at the festival with a very lively, diverse and open-minded audience that is young at heart - regardless of their actual age.

Daisy axon in H is for happiness by John Sheedy

We have already talked about the many problems and challenges facing the young protagonists. But where did you actually have to laugh at the sighting and the selection?

There are also very entertaining films in our program! Films that treat serious subjects with a certain lightheartedness. In Danish animation Mugge & vejfesten (Monty and the Street Party) by Anders Morgenthaler and Mikael Wulff, a boy wants to organize a big neighborhood party to reconcile his disputed parents. The film is politically incorrect, there are nuns with beards on stilts and nudists who do parcours ... a colorful world that is full of absurd situations and wonderful punch lines.
Also the Brazilian film Alice Júnior by Gil Baroni appears extremely light and humorous despite the potential for conflict. Alice Júnior is a trans girl who goes her own way in a way that is seldom seen in films. She gets along wonderfully with herself, she is not a tortured character. It's the others who have a problem with her. And that's why Alice quickly teaches them to get along with her. It is told in such a positive tone that you unfortunately find far too seldom on the subject.
There is also plenty of opportunity to smile when watching Australian films H is for happiness by John Sheedy. Candice Phee is the main character: red hair, freckles, actually a modern Pippi Longstocking. Her parents are facing the breakup and Candice has to deal with it and try to stay happy anyway. Like its heroine, the film is cheeky and smart, and at the same time has great depth. A rousing opening film for the Generation Kplus-Program.

© Rebeca Rossato Siqueira / Rita Cine & Bomba Cine

Chloé Cherchyk, Matilde Creimer Chiabrando, Siumara Castillo, Agustina Milstein and Camila Zolezzi in Mum mum mum by Sol Berruezo Pichon-Rivière

This year you have a share of 58% women directors! Is that off your sleeve or is it hard work?

I'm a feminist and it's not that difficult for me to choose films by women. During the viewing process, I sometimes don't know exactly whether those who directed the films identify as women or men. Sometimes there is something like a “feminine view of things”. But in the end I don't have to consciously strive for gender equality or program a certain quota. I think the “50/50 by 2020” targets are very good and an important tool for really changing something. What does it mean when more women in this world have access to a camera or are given the means to make a film? Especially in regions where women are completely underrepresented in the film industry - which, strictly speaking, is almost everywhere. When women's films become more present, how does our perception of the world change?
This year's generation- The overall program is rich in feminist perspectives. The crew on the set of the debut film Mum mum mum (Mum, mum, mum) the Argentine Sol Berruerzon Pichon-Rivière consisted exclusively of women and so was the cast of this sensitive, almost chamber play-like film, which is about coping with grief. The design of the production conditions is a clear statement here. In Irma (Sisters In the End of the World), a film by the Brazilian director duo Luciana Mazeto and Vinicius Lopes, everything is bathed in the pink light that comes from the arrival of an asteroid. But before that happens, the two protagonists shake patriarchal worldviews. A film full of memorable images and pointedly written dialogues.

What do you think will remain of this year's program?

It is no time for ordinary cinema. The urgency of the problems and the state of emergency that is current and omnipresent in our world is unmistakable. Young people are protesting everywhere and no matter where you look, it is they who are on the front lines. They bring in an incredible amount of energy, move something, say what's going on. You can see that in many generation-Films, very special and updated daily, but in short films Comrades from Kanas Liu, straight out of the streets of Hong Kong. Rubika Shahs White Riot describes the anti-fascist struggle of the rock-against-racism movement in Great Britain in the 1970s, but also builds unmistakable bridges to current social challenges in the fight against racism and discrimination.
The brothers in Samuel Kishi Leopos Los lobos hold on to their dreams and even turn them into their strengths as they struggle for a fresh start after emigrating from Mexico to the United States. On a large and small scale, sometimes more clearly, sometimes only hinted at just below the surface, the heroes of the films resist the prevailing conditions. Behind all these stories there is always the big question that we would like to pass on from the cinemas: Whose future is it actually?