A premier Berlin film festival address, Unknown Pleasures returns for the seventh time to focus on cutting edge work from the US with the bare-boned The Mend (Magary, 2014) providing an elliptical, mumblecore exploration of brotherly antagonisms.
There’s more groundbreaking experimental work on view in Actress (Greene, 2014), a hybrid documentary on the medial obsessions of minor HBO star Brandy Burre who left her role in The Wire for mundane domesticity and found that she missed the drama – a situation she remedies onscreen by creating some real-life drama of her own as she attempts a come-back.
L for Leisure (Kalman, 2014) is a highly formalised reconstruction of 1990s nostalgia whilst the truly astonishing The Overnighters (Moss, 2014) documents the struggles, inside and out, of a pastor who opens his church for homeless workers in the wake of North Dakota’s fracking boom and finds that filmic scrutiny of his motives turns up unexpected results – with Moss’ fly-on-the-wall approach transforming an unexpected story into an extraordinary confessional.
Ghosts and zombies metamorphose Ellie Lumme (Vishnevetsky, 2013) and Burying the Ex (Dante, 2014) into insidious versions of normality, whilst more mainstream versions of the times we live in are available in the Strauss-Kahn biopic Welcome to New York (Ferrara, 2014) – alongside an early viewing of Bennett Miller’s Oscar-bound The Foxcatcher.
Need some relief after it’s all over? Memphis star Willis Earl Beal wraps things up with a concert at Roter Salon on Jan 16.
For all dates and times check www.unknownpleasures.de.
UNKNOWN PLEASURES, Jan 1-16 | Kino Babylon, Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 30, Mitte, U-Bhf Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz