Deutsch treats

The prestigious 57th Berlinale, or Berlin International Film Festival, came to a close a couple of days ago and its jury, headed by American writer/director (and former film critic) Paul Schrader, awarded its top prize, The Golden Bear, to Chinese director Wang Quan’an’s “Tuya’s Wedding.”

 Set in Mongolia, it’s the story of a woman who pursues a suitor to take care of herself and her handicapped spouse. I think it sounds kind of interesting, and so apparently did Paul Schrader and maybe a couple of dozen other film critics and cinephiles in this country. But I don’t see it bumping “Ghost Rider” ($52 million its opening weekend)

or “Norbit” (grossing to date $62 million), currently number one and three in the box office, out of the cineplexes.

Frankly, looking back a past choices by the Berlin juries, I don’t think they really have their finger on the pulse of what American audiences want. Rather, they seem to opt for the film with the title that folks hereabouts will have the most trouble pronouncing. Last year the winner was Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic’s “Grbavica,” the story of a mother and daughter struggling through the ruins of their post-war country. It won’t even open here until March 9. Maybe by that time “Ghost Rider” will start to fade.

Come to think of it, looking at the remaining films in this week’s top ten, I don’t think there’s a single Berlin Film Festival winner in the lot.

Meanwhile, for those of us who can’t make it to Berlin, a little bit of Berlin, or at least Germany, has come to Boston. “Phoenix” film critic Brett Michel is among the many lauding Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s  Oscar-nominated “The Lives of Others.” Michael Atkinson this week recommends the films of Helmut Käutner, who somehow made great films in the midst of the Third Reich, now showing at the Harvard Film Archive (I can personally attest to his exquisite and heartbreaking postwar film, “Sky Without Stars.”)   And the Museum of Fine Arts will screen a retrospective of the three films of Michael Hofmann, which I’ll be writing about in the new issue of
the “Phoenix.”

Oh, and I’ll be introducing Hofmann for his “film talk” this evening at 6:30 p.m. at the Goethe Institute (176 Beacon St, Boston), where he will show clips of his films and discuss them. And this self-promotional plug, of course, was the reason this whole item was posted in the first place.


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