Snow storms continued to cover Berlin but as the 60th Berlinale celebrations kicked-off, over 1,500 guests managed to brave the weather. Hollywood’s Renée Zellweger, appearing in only a low cut dress, remarked that it was ‘Perfect cinema weather here in Germany.’ Zellweger sat on the judging panel for this year’s Golden Bear Prizes. The Opening film of the festival was Wang Quan’an’s Apart Together. The selection of this film highlights the strong link the Berlinale has always had with Asian film. The gala screening was attended by the festival’s jury president Werner Herzog plus a starry guest list from across European and Asian cinema. Stephen Dalton of The Times remarked on the film: ‘The low-key family drama that follows finds history repeating itself, more as farce than tragedy, with flashes of lyricism and dry humour.’
Belinale festival director Dieter Kosslick commented in a recent interview: ‘Even if we are in the entertainment business, it’s really important to deal with art seriously.’ And while the big hitters like the troubled Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer) and Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island) have featured, European indies reside centre stage throughout the festival. Representing Ireland was Hugh O’ Conor with Corduroy (which premiered on Tuesday 16th as part of Generation 14plus Short Film) and Rebecca Daly with Hum in the Berlinale Talent Campus Short Film (which premiered on Saturday 13th February).
Hum is a project that began almost a year ago as part of the festival’s Talent Campus. The competition was entered by 250 young filmmakers from 65 countries working with the motto ‘Straight to Cinema’. Last year Rebecca Daly, along with 15 other hopefuls, was invited to meet with producers and pitch an idea for a short film. Five were selected (Hum, Jonah and the Vicarious Nature of Homesickness, Reflection, By Night and The Astronaut on the Roof) for the Berlin Today Award 2010. Daly admitted there was ‘a great relationship from the start. I met with producers and the project happened in August.’ The shoot for Hum took place around Dublin and Daly was delighted with the support that she received. ‘It was a hectic two-and-a-half days. Post-production was taken care of in Berlin by Lichtblick Media.’
Hum is anchored by a stellar Irish cast of Kerry Condon (The Last Station) and Lalor Roddy (Hunger). Daly reveals ‘it’s fantastic working with actors like Kerry and Lalor. Both of them brought something special, interesting and sometimes unexpected to the project – which was great. Kerry was particularly drawn to the script, recognising the character of this woman immediately.’ This is not the first festival project Daly has been involved with as she also took up a four-and-a-half month residency with Cannes. She feels ‘it really helps you to gain recognition and is a great way to meet people, to share and work on your ideas. They are a big help when starting out.’ Daly added ‘I really enjoy working in Ireland, the stories I want to tell tend to have an Irish context or at least that’s how I naturally access their themes.’ This is only the start of many successes for Daly as the hard work continues saying ‘it’s exciting and daunting. I’m really looking forward to it. It has been in development for a couple of years and feels ready to be made.’ The Other Side of Sleep, her next project, is in the early stages of planning but Daly hopes to start shooting by the end of the year.
Beatrice Ní Bhroin