Berlinale 2021, cinema in the shadow of the pandemic

The masks only appear in a film presented at the Berlinale. That of the Romanian Radu Jude, Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, provocative and extremely disturbing farce on a country plagued by consumerism and corruption. Shot during the summer in the streets of Bucharest, interspersed with archive images or photomontages, including a single collective scene in its last part with duly masked actors and from a distance, this film about a professor trapped by a pornographic video bears the mark of the Covid-19 epidemic and the constraints it imposes on everyone.

Berlinale put to the test of Covid-19

The first major festival of the year, the online Berlinale seems to act as a laboratory for cinema at the time of the pandemic. All the films presented were shot or completed in the shadow of this planetary event. And if it is a bit early to speak of “aesthetic rupture” as done by its artistic director Carlo Chatrian, it has clearly influenced the economy of certain works.

→ ANALYSIS. Berlinale 2021, a closed-door competition

Little mom, Céline Sciamma’s new film is the perfect example. After the ambitious Portrait of the girl on fire, the filmmaker returns to a more modest format and to her favorite subject, childhood, in this film which is in the vein of a Tomboy. An empty house, parents present but absent, and two little girls in a forest are enough to instill the magic that permeates this sensitive film on the unspoken between mothers and daughters. A ghostly Berlin without extras also serves the purpose of I’m your man, by the German Maria Schrader, a nice futuristic romantic comedy about an android who turns out to be more gifted for love than humans.

Jérémie Rénier more impressive with each role

But it’s in Memory Box, the Lebanese Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige that the formal research is the most extensive, although this time it has nothing to do with the context. Inspired by their own notebooks written during their adolescence in Beirut in the midst of civil war, they literally animate these images of the past to reactivate the memory of a family emigrated to Canada and create a bridge with the images conveyed today. by our cellphones. A poignant and inventive film which we can regret that the aesthetic promise is not kept to the end.

The observation of a drifting humanity and the individual upheavals it causes is also at the heart of Xavier Beauvois’ beautiful film, Albatross, presented Tuesday in competition. This very strong chronicle of a man – a gendarme – and a country that is going haywire, carried by a Jérémie Rénier more impressive in each role, has undoubtedly more to do with the yellow vests than with the Covid epidemic -19, but skillfully makes the link between the intimate and the collective to plunge into the heart of the anger of an entire nation and call on men to get back to basics.


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