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Snowpiercer, the sci-fi comicbook adaptation from Korean genre master Boong Joon-ho (The Host, Mother) will get a special gala screening at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival as part of Berlin’s Forum sidebar.
Boong’s English-language debut, based on the graphic novel by French artist Jean-Marc Rochette, is set on the cusp of an impending ice age caused by human environmental destruction. The world’s last survivors are left circling the earth on a non-stop express train, where the rich ride in the luxury carriages up front and the poor languish in the back. The film stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, and Korean actors Song Kang-ho and Ko Asung.
At the other end of the cinematic scale, the Forum this year will also dedicate special screenings to two new documentaries exploring the recent political upheaval in Egypt. Jehane Noujaim’s Oscar-nominated The Square looks at a group of activists over a period of more than two years as Egypt is engulfed in the revolution centered on Tahir Square. In Viola Shafik’s Arij (Scent of Revolution), follows a four very different Egyptians: a Coptic activist, a socialist writer, a young cyberspace designer and the biggest collector of photo negatives in the country, to create a complex picture of the country and its politics. The film will have its world premiere in Berlin.
Two other documentaries also celebrating their world premieres in Berlin’s Forum section this year are the “anti-music film” DMD KIU LIDT from Austrian filmmaker Georg Tiller, named for the latest album from Berlin-based, anti-capitalist Austrian rock band Ja, Panik and Indian documentary Journey with Prabhat by Jessica Sadana and Samarth Dixit about the history of India’s legendary Prabhat Film Company.
As part of their efforts to show newly restored archive prints, the Forum will screen the premiere of the new print of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, a collection of footage filmed by the British at the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The footage was original intended to be made into a documentary, with Alfred Hitchcock advising on the project. A documentary on that lost film is the subject of the documentary Night Will Fall, which will have a Berlinale Special gala screening in Berlin’s official selection.
Other newly-restored prints that will get a special Forum presentation include the nearly four hour documentary Shamans of the Blind Country by Michael Oppitz, which was first shown at the 1981 Forum. The film traces Oppitz’ trips to the Magar people of Nepal in the 1970s as part of his research into their form of shamanism. Tender are the Feet, a 1972 Burmese film from director Maung Wunna, recently restored from an analogue video tape, will also get a Forum special screening, as will a trio of films from director Noboru Nakamura, an influential force in the world of post World War 2 cinema in Japan.
The 2014 Berlin International Film Festival runs Feb. 6-16.
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