Forum Special pics long time in the making
EmptyTwo mammoth documentary projects — one on former Czech president Vaclav Havel and another on the generation that grew up in East Germany — are among the highlights of the Berlin International Film Festival's Forum Special program.
Czech filmmaker Pavel Koutecky spent more than a decade following Havel with a video camera for his docu "Citizen Havel," which begins in 1993 when Havel was swept to power following his "velvet revolution" over Hungary's communist dictatorship.
Koutecky died in an accident in 2006, leaving more than 100 hours of material. His Czech colleague, Miroslav Janek, took over the project, completing the film that will screen in Berlin.
Winfried and Barbara Junge's five-hour documentary "…they're living happily ever after," which also will enjoy a Forum Special screening, marks the end of an even more ambitious undertaking: to track the lives of an entire generation. For the past 46 years, the Junges have regularly chronicled the lives of children from the eastern German town of Golzow, following the same group that started school in 1961, the year the Berlin Wall was built. This film marks the 19th, and final, entry in their chronicle.
The Forum Special screenings are an opportunity to highlight unusual or extraordinary film projects, and the exhaustively titled "The Muzzled Horse of an Engineer in Search of Mechanical Saddles" certainly fits the bill. Philippine director Khavn De La Cruz will accompany the Berlin screening of his feature — about the sexual obsessions of a fired engineer — with his own live musical performance.
Sexual obsession is also the theme of "W.R. — Mysteries of the Organism," the subversive classic on the theories of sexologist Wilhelm Reich from surrealist filmmaker Dusan Makavejev. "W.R." debuted at Berlin's Forum in 1971 and will have a repeat screening this year. Makavejev will be in Berlin taking part in a master class at this year's Berlinale Talent Campus.
Two "rediscovered" films also will screen as part of the 2008 Forum Special program: Kent Mackenzie's 1961 documentary on Native Americans, "The Exiles," and a new, director's cut of "My Brother's Wedding," the 1983 drama from seminal African American filmmaker Charles Burnett.
The 38th Berlinale Forum runs Feb. 8-17.