Even in the heart of Potsdamer Platz — that clutter of wind-swept plazas and tightly-packed hotels, shopping malls, and high-rises near the confluence of east and west Berlin that looks like a modern American urban anywhere (only packed with Europeans) and serves as the de facto center for the Berlinale International Film Festival — where the past roared loud and clear amidst the din of international cinema’s hustling and bustling. Granted, a good part of film festivals’ raison d’etre is displaying what’s new and upcoming, and so it was that from February 7th to 17th, Berlinale introduced a host of works from new and little-seen filmmakers hailing from all (well, most) corners of the planet.
At the same time, festivals like Berlinale are almost as much about the business end of things, such as the aggressive scheming happening over in the buzz-laden conference rooms of the concurrent European Film Market (EFM) — the hive of distribution dealmaking that’s arguably more important than anything happening at the open-to-the-public screenings. It was there that the business of getting films made is reported on so feverishly by the daily trades, the announcement of Scorsese’s Bob Marley project, deals rumored for Sam Raimi’s Ellen Page-starring horror film Drag Me to Hell and Oliver Stone’s film about George W. Bush, and early footage being screened from Steven Soderbergh’s first of two Che Guevara films, The Argentine.
You can read my coverage of this year’s festival, including reviews of the Philip Roth adaptation Elegy and the amazing restoration of the lost 1961 neorealist American classic The Exiles, at filmcritic.com.
One of the first of many vividly expressed moments of honesty in Frederik Peeters’s autobiographical graphic novel, Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, comes very early. Cati, the thrilling and beautiful woman the somewhat glum Peeters has just fallen for, tells him that she is HIV positive. A trio of panels follow in which Peeters’s shrinking figure is surrounded by a rush of his “most extreme feelings”—outpouring of thick, blackly lettered emotions that range from passion and pity to desire, flight and sadness. First published in 2002 in Switzerland, Blue Pills is an off-kilter and moving account of Peeters and Cati’s relationship, which undergoes trial after trial at the hands of her invisible but frightening condition.
The full article on Blue Pills was published in Publishers Weekly.