August 26, 2019
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Berlinale film fest showcases Canadian, Turkish portraits of rural desolation

Berlin, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- Germany's prestigious Berlinale film festival kicked off its second week on Monday with two movies featuring desolate rural villages sharing the spotlight as they vied to snag the coveted Golden Bear award while an out-of-competition Hollywood blockbuster grabbed most of the media attention.

"Répertoire des villes disparues" ("Ghost Town Anthology") by Canadian filmmaker Denis Côté and "Kiz Kardesler" ("A Tale of Three Sisters") by Turkish director Emin Alper both are, at their core, reflections on the lack of prospects in remote and depopulated landscapes.

"To live among the dead is to end up moving like them," Côté said, referring to the mysterious presences haunting the snowy but dreary Québecois ghost town of Irénee-les-Neiges, arguably the main protagonist in his newest film.

The fictional location has a minuscule population of only 215 inhabitants. The insular community suddenly sees its monotone day-to-day upended by the apparent suicide of one of its residents and the subsequent appearance of extremely unsettling, seemingly mute and permanently observant figures that give a new meaning to the "ghost" in ghost town.

Côté, known in indie arthouse circles for his highly-experimental approach to filmmaking, is already well-acquainted with the German festival, as he was awarded the Alfred Bauer Prize – established to memorialize the homonymous Berlinale founder – in 2013 for his acclaimed "Vic + Flo ont vu un ours" ("Vic and Flo Saw a Bear").

Meanwhile, far away from the snow-swept wastelands of Quebec, Alper's film focuses on the mind-numbing remoteness of an Anatolian village in which three adolescent sisters grapple with their coming-of-age as they yearn for the excitement of distant Ankara, the capital of Turkey.

Reyhan (20 years old), Nurham (16) and Havva (13) are all sent to work in the big city by their widowed father, only to return to their godforsaken mountain hamlet due to different circumstances, including a scandalous pregnancy. They always keep a packed bag close, waiting for the next opportunity to flee their torturous abode and go back to Ankara.

But the Berlinale's main attraction for Monday was, without a doubt, the presence of British superstar Christian Bale, who stars in the film "Vice" by Adam McKay as the former vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney.

McKay's biopic of the ambitious congressman from Wyoming who held various positions in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George HW Bush before becoming the power behind the throne during the presidency of George W Bush has been nominated to eight Academy Awards, including the categories of Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

While it won't be competing for the ursine statuettes in Berlin, it remains the only American feature film displayed at a festival more focused on European and Asian cinema that tends to avoid Hollywood products and instead prefers to explore the fascinating periphery of mainstream moviemaking.

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