Berlinale: From West Berlin to Texas

Mein wunderbares West-Berlin | My Wonderful West Berlin
Panorama 2017
DEU 2017
von: Jochen Hick
© Peter Hedenström

Strong documentaries have always been the forte at Berlinale’s Panorama section and Jochen Hick is back with a look on 40+ years of queer culture in what was formerly known as West Berlin (“My Wonderful West Berlin“). And it’s great to see so many of the legendary or nearly-legendary venues and clubs (I moved to the city in 1991) and have people in their 60s and 70s talk about a bygone era and where they went to to have a good time. The political aspect is heavily featured here, too and it is slightly shocking but true that it was the AIDS epidemic that put the homosexual matters into everyone’s consciousness again and it is also a relatively sad fact that are not enough documents and not enough footage around describing this particular topic. So it was especially important to hear in the discussion afterwards that documentation is key unless we don’t want to fade into obscurity.

Berlinale "Discreet"
Discreet Panorama 2017 USA 2017 von: Travis Mathews Bob Swaffar, Jonny Mars © Drew Xanthopoulos

With the fiction movies in Panorama, I wasn’t really lucky on Saturday night with “Discreet”. In fact, it made me cringe in my seat because of its highly artificial and pseudo-mystical story. There is one scene which although it isn’t the central statement of the movie but exemplifies its problem: Alex, the main character here, is trying to feed his grandpa with a spoon of cereals and milk. But he is feeding him with the longer side of the spoon and not the tip of the spoon as everybody else would do it. Why? Because this way, the whole scene gets a bit more dramatic because you could see one or two pieces of cereal falling out of the mouth and you could see some milk dripping down the beard. Those moments were typical for the movie: drama for drama’s sake and art for art’s sake. I didn’t want to find out what the story is all about because of all these terrible and pseudo-dramatic, pseudo-suspenseful scenes. I just wanted this whole mess to end as soon as possible. And what about the ultra-conservative and rightwing news shows on the car radio condemning everything not white and not heterosexual. Oh, yes I forgot. There had to be a reason why all these short homo-erotic sex scenes were in there as well. Trite stuff. Forget about it.

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