A world of dark impulses hides in plain sight in the luminous landscapes of Jersey. A serial killer is about. This does not stop Moll (Jessie Buckley) from roaming freely. Her icy mother (Geraldine James) does not seem too concerned about her daughter’s safety, yet very concerned with controlling her.
Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr has long had a place of honour in Bletchley Park, at the National Museum of Computing. It’s a fascinating place, just a short walk away from Hut 8, where Alan Turing and his colleagues were codebreaking in the early 1940s. Lamarr’s work is presented next to luminaries such as Ada Lovelace, the 18th century mathematician and author of the first computer algorithm.
Girls Always Happy was a breath of fresh air during a Berlinale which has featured a remarkable number of downbeat stories. It’s an accomplished film. It presents an original point of view about how to lead a life, in a changing society which still remains restrictive about a young woman’s place in the world. The film was nominated for Best First Feature Award for its director (and lead actress), Yang Mingming – a strong contender which deserved to win.
The stark landscapes of Galway, on the West coast of Ireland, form the backdrop to Song of Granite. It’s an elegantly understated, and original, documentary about a remarkable life. Joe Heaney, the now long-gone but much loved sean-nós singer, who died in 1984, is celebrated here again after a spell of obscurity.
What short film manages to win 82 awards and get invited to over a hundred film festivals? The remarkable Silent River, by writer-director Anca Miruna Lǎzǎrescu, achieved that feat back in 2011. Her 2005 short film Bucuresti-Berlin had been an early sign of a promising career. Lǎzǎrescu studied in Munich, and started out as a documentary filmmaker. Her documentary film The Secret of Deva won Best German Newcomer Film in 2007. Since then, Lǎzǎrescu has gone from strength to strength.
Completed just a few days before its festival launch, The Heiresses was probably the best film at the 2018 Berlinale – and one that inspired both affection and a high degree of esteem. It won the Alfred Bauer Silver Bear and the FIPRESCI prize, alongside the Silver Bear for Best Actress awarded to Anna Brun for her nuanced portrait of a woman finding grace as she falls.
A cheerfully iconoclastic film, Michel Hazanavicius’s Redoubtable has provoked both ire and delight. Jean-Luc Godard is considered such a key figure in both European culture and political history that to treat him with levity is outrageous to some, and just deserts to others. Hazanavicius has said that critical responses have, at times, been as if he’d peed on the Sistine Chapel.