Weary crowd cheers eight-hour epic at Berlin film fest

Hundreds of movie lovers emerged bleary-eyed but enthusiastic Thursday after the longest competition contender in the 66-year history of the Berlin film festival, shown in an eight-and-a-half hour marathon screening with just one break.

See Full Article

Daring Filipino director Lav Diaz had told AFP before travelling to the German capital that his historical epic "A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery" would be a "struggle" for the audience.

But as the curtain closed at the 1,600-seat Berlinale Palace theatre, more than half the audience was still present and rewarded the 57-year-old filmmaker with warm applause and cries of "bravo".

The ambitious film is one of 18 films vying for the festival's Golden Bear top prize, to be awarded by jury president Meryl Streep Saturday.

Streep and her seven-member panel including British actor Clive Owen attended the sole screening of the film, which was sold out and packed to the rafters Thursday morning.

Security staff confiscated water bottles and required audience members to check their bags before they immersed themselves in the rich revolutionary history and mythology of Diaz's impoverished homeland.

Some audience members were toting inflatable pillows and smuggled in granola bars as they entered the cinema, shaking hands in solidarity with their seat mates before the screening began.

Gerhard Reda, a German amateur filmmaker who says he watches 10 to 15 movies each week, called the screening a "personal test of courage".

He said he had started to watch another of Diaz's notoriously lengthy films last year but had to give up after an hour.

"He can have a 45-minute scene that just has people talking or walking through a field," he warned.

"Some love him, some hate him but he's always a challenge."

About an hour in, the 44-year-old quietly rolled a cigarette while still in his seat so he wouldn't miss too much when he popped out for a smoke.

Like a video game

As the lights came up Thursday night, Taiwanese film critic Yun-hua Chen said that she was "doing absolutely fine".

"It was an amazing experience -- totally worth it," she said.

"The film really needed to be this long so the audience can submerge in the story."

Enrico Cehovin, a 27-year-old Italian, said that playing long video games had prepared him for the experience, which he admitted was "only for cinema lovers".

"Some games take eight to 10 hours to play and you don't even understand where the time has gone -- they can be like long movies," he said.

"But this was an experience unlike any I'll have again."

Development worker Carla Schraml, 36, admitted she did not know much about the Philippines' revolution going into the film.

"Despite its length, I wish I had learned more," she said, criticising a meandering story that was only partly accessible for an uninitiated audience.

But Hubert Speich, a critic for German public broadcaster SWR, called the picture "superb".

"Diaz has his own signature poetic style and the images are just sublime," he enthused.

"He needs a canvas this size to tell the story he wants to tell in all its complexity -- in its historical sweep there is not a single shot that is excessive.

"Diaz shows what cinema is capable of."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Donald Trump tried to date Emma Thompson

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Emma Thompson was once a favourite of President Donald Trump. The actress, who has been married to actor Greg Wise since 2003, has revealed the future leader of the free world once tried to charm her into going on a date with him, while she was filming 1998 movie Primary Colors. Source
  • Amy Schumer bails on Barbie

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Amy Schumer has dropped out of the Barbie movie. The actress/comedian signed on to play the woman who inspired Mattel’s popular doll for Sony, but scheduling conflicts have forced her to bow out. “Sadly, I’m no longer able to commit to Barbie due to scheduling conflicts,” Schumer said in a statement released on Thursday. Source
  • 'Qapla'!': Timmins, Ont. Klingons raise their flag at city hall to celebrate 50th anniversary

    Entertainment CBC News
    There's a flag flying in front of the city hall in Timmins, Ont. — but it's not one that usually adorns municipal buildings. On earth. The raising of the Klingon Empire flag in northern Ontario this week doesn't mean the battle-hungry alien race of warriors, made popular in the Star Trek television franchise, has conquered the region. Source
  • 'Life' review: Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds' space horror a real treat for the audience

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The film "Life" is a test-tube baby, born from a blend of old-school monster-movie DNA and state-of-the-art digital effects. At times silly - yet surprisingly satisfying - this tale of sci-fi suspense and horror, set in the weightless environment of the International Space Station, gives Emmanuel Lubezki's vertiginous "Gravity" cinematography a run for its money, with dizzyingly deft camera choreography and long, unbroken takes shot by Seamus McGarvey ("Nocturnal Animals," "The Avengers") that…
  • Feds promise more money for arts, culture in budget but with few details

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Liberal government promised more funding for arts and culture in Wednesday's budget, but offered few concrete details as to what the money will be spent on. The budget promised an extra $1.8 billion for culture and recreation over the next decade, starting next year. Source
  • There are few details but here's what the federal budget means for the arts

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Liberal government promised more funding for arts and culture in Wednesday's budget, but offered few concrete details as to what the money will be spent on. The budget promised an extra $1.8 billion for culture and recreation over the next decade, starting next year. Source
  • Russia, Ukraine at odds over singer's Eurovision performance

    Entertainment CTV News
    GENEVA -- Eurovision song contest organizers say they have taken the unprecedented step of offering to let Russia's contestant perform via satellite after authorities in host Ukraine banned her from entering the country -- a proposal that was immediately rejected by a Russian state broadcaster. Source
  • 'Who else would I be thinking about'; John Mayer never got over Katy Perry

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    John Mayer cried as he channelled his heartbreak over his split from Katy Perry into his new single Still Feel Like Your Man. The stars dated on and off from 2012 until early 2016, and although Perry promptly moved on with British actor Orlando Bloom, Mayer admits he never fully got over the break-up, because their relationship had meant so much to him. Source
  • Filmmaker finds Edmonton short on equipment, crews and funding

    Entertainment CBC News
    Michael Maxxis is discovering the joys and challenges of shooting a feature film in his hometown of Edmonton. The Alberta capital is still a city in training when it comes to film infrastructure, he said. Source
  • Bob Dylan holds forth on Frank Sinatra, Joan Baez, Minnesota in rare interview

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    An old rock-and-roll legend has it that Bob Dylan and George Harrison were supposed to record with Elvis Presley, but The King was a no-show. As Dylan tells it, though, Presley "did show up, it was us that didn't. Source