Berlin: South African Blaxploitation, Civil Rights in Focus in Forum Sidebar

Courtesy of Milestone Film
'Strange Victory'

A restored version of Leo Hurwitz's 1948 documentary 'Strange Victory,' about racial bias in post World War II America, will screen in Berlin.

The Forum sidebar of the Berlin International Film Festival has completed its lineup, adding genre films from South Africa, Mexico and Japan as well as newly-restored documentaries to its official selection.

The genre titles include two rarely-seen Blaxploitation films made in South Africa under Apartheid: the 1973 gangster movie Joe Bullet from director Louis de Witt, one of the first South African movies to be shot with an all-black cast, and South African black Western The Feud from Tonie van der Merwe. Van der Merwe, who also produced Joe Bullet, will attend the festival to discuss the films, which have been recently restored.

The Forum will also screen three films from the late Japanese director Kon Ichikawa, who shot more than 80 films in the course of his long career. The Forum has picked three recently restored prints of three of Ichikawa’s films from the late 1950s and early 60s: Conflagration, (1958), Her Brother (1960) and An Actor's Revenge, (1963). Carrying on in the same genre vein, the Forum will screen Alejandro Galindo's 1950 Mexican film noir Four Against the World.

On the documentary side, Berlin will pay tribute to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with a number of films on the issue of human rights and the Holocaust. In addition to Israeli documentaries The 81st Blow and Out of the Forest, about, respectively, the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann and the massacre of Jews in Lithuania in the 1940s, the Forum will screen Strange Victory, Leo Hurwitz's doc about black and Jewish American soldiers who returned from WWII to find racism alive and well at home.

Completing the Forum program are two documentaries about cinema itself: Tatiana Brandrup's Cinema: A Public Affair, which looks at the dismissal, last summer, of Russian film historian, and former head of the Eisenstein archive, Naum Kleiman; and Then is It the End? The Film Critic Michael Althen, Dominik Graf's portrait of his friend, the late German film critic Michael Althen.

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