What should you see at the Berlin & Beyond film festival? What should you avoid? I’ve seen three of the films. Here’s what I thought of them.
A- Welcome to Germany
A very funny comedy with a serious heart, predictable, but not too predictable. A well-off couple, with their children grown and gone, bring a Nigerian refugee into their home. Of course, the family is dysfunctional in all sorts of ways. The husband can’t stand getting old, the wife seeks out causes, their son defends himself by crying out “but I’m a lawyer,” their daughter can’t get a college degree after more than a decade, and their grandson is a 12-year-old party animal. The refugee has an answer: arranged marriages. Meanwhile, racists picket the house while the government stupidly suspects that the refugee is a terrorist.
B Dream Boat
A large cruise ship leaves port for a special cruise exclusively for gay men. The passengers look forward to dancing, flirting, drag contests, sex, and perhaps some self-realization. Documentarian Ferland Milewski does his best work when he focuses his camera on a handful of passengers, including Dipankar, who’s still in the closet in his home in India, and the paraplegic Frenchman Philippe, deserted by friends and family him when he could no longer walk. The film is less effective when it tries to encompass big issues. Read my full review.
I’m not sure how Dream Boat fits into a German-language film festival. There’s very little German spoken here. Most of the dialog and interviews are in English – even if it’s a second language to almost everyone on camera.
- Goethe-Institut, Thursday, February 15, 8:15
C Rock My Heart
First, we meet a rebellious teenage girl with a heart condition that will likely kill her. Then we meet a kindly old horse trainer with financial problems and a lightning-fast but uncontrollable stallion. You guessed it; girl and horse meet, and its love at first sight. Despite a condition that could kill her at any moment, our plucky heroine sets out to be a jockey and save horse and trainer. The story of the sick girl, who refuses an experimental operation that might save her life, could have made a good film. But the story of girl and horse is by-the-numbers sentimentality. This is one of those movies with lots of montages cut to soft rock songs.