Friday, February 13, 2009

Berlinale: No Country for Young Folk

Poster for Die Koreanische Hochzeitsruhe; photo by Val Phoenix
As, Grafinjata (Petar Popzlatew)
Hayat Var (Reha Erdem)
Dorfpunks (Lars Jessen)
Ein Traum in Erdbeerfolie (Marco Wilms)
Die Koreanische Hochzeitsruhe (Ulrike Ottinger)
Chan di Chummi (Khalid Gill)

Today's theme is youth and its discontents. How society treat its young tells a lot about its values. In the Bulgarian film As, Grafinjata, the state and family conspire to crush all life from the spirited and rebellious Sybilla. Her individuality and opinionated nature are not valued in a state that demands uniformity.

Hayat Var is a film that revels in its tediousness, as the titular character, a 14-year-old girl on the outskirts of Istanbul, retreats into her own head to escape the mundanity and casual violence that lurk around every corner of her extremely proscribed existence.

The teenaged boys of Dorfpunks seek a way out of the tedium of 1980s German suburbia by forming a band but find their inadequacies are only magnified by the process.

Their East Berlin counterparts in Ein Traum in Erdbeerfolie sought to express themselves through fashion and performance and in so doing, found themselves enemies of the state. Eventually, the state fell, but 20 years later, as middle-aged people in reunified Germany, they miss the excitement and danger of their youth.

Which brings me to two docs which shed a bit of light on the differing expectations of boys and girls. Die Koreanische Hochzeitsruhe is Ulrike Ottinger's examination of Korean wedding rituals. Leaving aside the clumsy attempt at placing it within some kind of mythology, one is left with numerous shots of shops and teeming streets. The film really comes to life in the ceremony, excruciatingly regulated and staged, with a strange Fix-It woman constantly adjusting the bride's dress and issuing instructions to guests as the ceremony progresses. Nobody, including the bride, looks happy.

The Khusra community of Lahore is a grouping of people who might be called intersex and MTF in western society. Historically, they were held in high regard, admired for their dancing and connection with spirituality. But, as shown in Chan di Chummi, modern society regards them as freaks, misunderstood and cast out by their families for not being proper men. Living in the margins, they eke out a living through dancing and prostitution. Celebrating the birth of boy children in neighbourhood homes, they seem unaware of how they are actually reinforcing the gender roles that so oppress them.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments: