Gina @Berlinale with Nathalie, Moses and Saar

It’s funny that some people ask, “Excuse me is this seat free?”, while others prefer to use the “excuse me is this seat taken” variation. It is also interesting to note that there are many people, at least in the press screenings, who always want the same seats. Still others are trying everything they can to leave the seat right next to them empty while others are desperately searching for free seats. It would be a great docudrama to further investigate people’s habits and whims when they go to the movies.

Isabelle Huppert and André Marcon in “L’avenir”

Director Mia Hansen-Løve is much better though when it comes to study and observe a person’s changes once something unsettling sets in. And there is nobody better to play that particular person than French star actress Isabell Huppert in “L’avenir”. Her husband is leaving her, Nathalie, a philosophy teacher, after almost 20 years, her mother dies, and the publishers of some of her educational books don’t want her anymore. She’s alone. She’s free. Finds distraction in visiting one of her students in the countryside. And yet, she keeps her stature, her balance, her composure. It’s a great story about a woman who finds her new freedom after several devastating experiences. And by the way, Nathalie’s mother left her cat, Pandora, behind. How very sympathetic of Nathalie that she tries to get rid of the cat…

Another cat, Moses, is the central figure in Austrian’s Händl Klaus‘ second full-length film, “Kater”. The two lovers Stefan and Andreas live a harmonious, almost perfect life with their tomcat until one day Stefan has a sudden outburst of violence and kills it. After that incident, the relationship seems to come to an end but both of them slowly but surely find their way back to each other. I found the reaction of Andreas after that particularly violent act by his friend a bit exaggerated but the whole story is told with a penchant for detail and sensitiveness.

"Who's Gonna Love Me Now?"
“Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?”
© Heymann Brothers Films

The stronger movies that I saw are once again the documentaries. In “Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?”, Saar has left his kibbutz in Israel 17 years ago and starts a new life in London. He has a steady job at an Apple store and finds his new family in the London Gay Men’s Chorus. His parents and siblings are interviewed and we get a glimpse of two very different worlds – his direct relatives who are all very religious, don’t accept Saar’s permissive lifestyle. Once the word is out that Saar is HIV-positive, there are even more reservations. But finally, Saar moves back to Israel to work at an AIDS prevention center. The screening was very special since both Saar and his father, who for a long time didn’t approve of his son’s lifestyle at all, were both in the audience and saw the movie for the first time. They received a very warm and long reception from the audience and as a special treat, we had the pleasure of hearing some of the members of the choir sing a song live on stage. A very touching moment and a very brave and moving documentary by the Israeli brothers Tomer and Barak Heymann. And there was no cat involved in the movie! In fact, Saar told the audience afterwards that he is living a happy life now with a dog. Good for him.


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