Berlin Film Festival 2014: Day 6

Inbetween Worlds

All’s fair in love and war. But in Feo Aladag’s war film Zwischen Welten, it seems like nothing’s really fair. Following an Afghani interpreter embedded with a German Army Commander in Helmand Province, it strikes an interesting pose – a man welcome at neither table, but when it comes to safeguarding his sister or getting a visa application, able to play both sides. And it’s a delicious insight into the role of interpreter, softening the edges of translation to offer some kind of cultural conciliation. But as Tariq and his sister are threatened for betraying their own people to work for the other side, they’re also forbidden from entering the camp when his sister is shot. Despite a story-driven plot and some heavy-handed symbolism (women are very much the future, completing their education to build bridges and bring the country together), Feo Aladag’s Zwischen Welten is a sensitive portrait of living in the middle.

In Greece however, they’re already at the end – scraping money together by any means possible (crime and prostitution) rather than suffer the humiliation of a fair day’s wage in Yannis Economides’ Stratos. Its story of an ex-con and hit-man gradually drawn to a moral position over his friends and neighbours is clumsy, filled with story clichés and repetitive dialogue. And where it aims for a Melvillian Le Samouraï, Stratos ends in an army of shadows, its characters either mute or garrulous caricatures. Much better though are the day’s two triptychs. And while Karim Aïnouz’s Praia do Futuro loses its way in its final third, the first two parts are an enjoyably elliptic and unexpectedly sensuous love story. Shot in Berlin and Brazil and filmed in both German and Portuguese, Praia do Futuro also flits between two worlds – a holiday romance that blossoms out of tragedy and an extended stay in a wet and wintry Berlin. But its identity crisis and family drama come from nowhere, leaving the final third thrashing like a fish out of water.

Robert Lepage and Pedro Pires’ Triptyque is also a globe-trotting triptych, starting in the Sistine Chapel before moving between Quebec, London and Montréal. Uncovering the lives of Michelle, Thomas and Marie in chronological order and in French, English and German, Triptyque is not only stunningly filmed, it’s also filled with beautiful and clever ideas – such as Michelangelo’s Creation Of Adam as the portrait of a human brain, or the lip-dubbing singer who, after brain surgery left her with gaps in her memory, finds her father’s voice in her own voice. Some of the dialogue is a little on the nose, making its arenas of brain and soul rather forced, but Robert Lepage and Pedro Pires’ Triptyque is nevertheless a magnificent masterwork that deserves a closer look.

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