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This week at the kino: Horror docs, uranium shocks

Three distinct new films have landed in Berlin cinemas, but which one should you catch this weekend? Our film editor shares his take.

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Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror is an insightful and playful documentary that isn’t just for the gore hounds. Photo: Shudder

With four new releases and a few great festivals,  let us walk you through a busy week of Berlin cinema.

When it comes to general releases this week, there’s no need to look any further than Horror Noire: A History Of Black Horror. It’s an insightful and playful documentary that isn’t just for the gore hounds: it examines the relationship between African-American history and the evolution of the horror genre, without limiting itself to a pedagogical rundown. It engages a broader audience on a human level through unique and lived perspectives on what “horror” means, exposing how horror has become a way to address and fight societal trauma. It’s a terrific watch.

Another doc out this week is I Am Greta, an underwhelming effort about the life and achievements of Greta Thunberg that feels like a calculated PR stunt, one you’d do best to avoid. Unfortunately, the same could be said for the umpteenth take on The Secret Garden, which isn’t all bad but lacks tonal conviction as well as the required magic to captivate even the young’uns. As for Military Wives, it’s the sort of garden variety crowd-pleaser that you can’t get too angry at, but which pales compared to far stronger British feel-good comedies of the same ilk.

So, head to watch Horror Noire, and make sure to catch up on the excellent batch of movies still in kinos, with our highlights being Never Rarely Sometimes AlwaysBabyteeth and The Personal History Of David Copperfield.

Outside of general releases, there are enough festival highlights this week to keep Berlin cinephiles chuffed. We’ll proceed chronologically.

First on our list is the 11mm Football Film Festival. Initially planned for March, the delayed 17th edition takes place at Babylon Kino from 15th to the 19th. The festival’s eclectic line-up of films this year touch upon various themes which cater not only to football fans but also to cinephiles hankering for stellar documentaries – check out our full festival preview, which includes our top picks of unmissable docs.

Next is the International Uranium Film Festival, the only annual film festival that screens movies about nuclear issues and radioactive risks, from atomic bombs to nuclear waste. The festival had to cancel their Rio de Janeiro and Almeria editions this year due to COVID, but are powering through with their Berlin chapter. This year’s festival takes place at the Kulturbrauerei CineStar in Prenzlauerberg, starting today until the 18th, with all films screening with English subs. This year’s program blasts off with the World premiere of Claus Biegert’s documentary Vom Sinn Des Ganzen (About The Meaning Of Everything) (7.30pm), which offers previously unseen material about the encounters between physicist Hans-Peter Dürr, Edward Teller and peace Nobel laureate Josef Rotblat, who were both involved in the Manhattan Project during WWII.


Playfight (pictured) is screening at the PornFilmFestival, which runs at Moviemento and Babylon Kreuzberg from 20th to the 25th. Photo: Porn Film Festival

Other highlights this year include the German premiere of The Soviet Garden (Friday at 6pm), with director Dragosh Turea in attendance, and Sunday’s screening of Balentes – The Brave Ones (I Coraggiosi) (3pm), a documentary which sees Sardinian-Australian anthropologist-turned-filmmaker Lisa Camillo returning to Sardinia to find that large quantities of her homeland are plagued by mysterious bombs and tests that include the use of depleted uranium. The film will be followed by a Q&A with director Lisa Camillo and a discussion on Sardinia and uranium weapons with ICBUW spokesman Prof. Manfred Mohr and the Sardinian peace and environmental activist Pitzente Bianco.

And last – but by no means least – is the PornFilmFestival, which returns this year at Moviemento and Babylon Kreuzberg from 20th to the 25th. Like a great many festivals last month, the streamlined 15th edition of the PornFilmFestival will, for the first time, also take place online: six feature films and over 30 shorts will be available for streaming after the festival week, from 26 Oct – 1 November. So don’t fret if certain screenings are sold out. Also new this edition is the “A Virus Knows No Morals – The AIDS Era in Cinema” retrospective, which takes a look back at the Aids pandemic in light of current events, with films by Rosa von Praunheim, Wieland Speck and Arthur J. Bressan Jr

 These weekly retrospective screenings extend the festival into November and will also include a series on AIDS activism in both documentary and feature form – Jim Hubbard’s United in Anger: A History of ACT UP and Robin Campillo’s 120 BPM are unmissable. (If you haven’t read it already, here’s a cheeky plug for our interview with Robin Campillo, which took place before the release of 120 BPM in 2017.) To further counterbalance this streamlined edition and go beyond its set dates, the festival’s shorts program (which now includes new categories like ‘Sex In Times Of Corona Porn Shorts’) will continue with monthly screenings at Moviemento until September 2021, just in time for the 16th edition. For more information and viewing tips, check out our full festival preview.

That’s it from us this week. Wear your masks, support your local kinos, and why haven’t you seen Never Rarely Sometimes Always or Babyteeth yet? Get on it.