At The Berlinale, Smaller Films Make A Stir

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/147299296/147298985" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

The prizes at the 62nd Berlinale have been handed out. The stars have left the city, but there are some films that resonate after their screenings.

Indonesian director Edwin, right, debuted his film Postcards from the Zoo with actors Nicholas Saputra and Ladya Cheryl at this year's Berlinale. i

Indonesian director Edwin, right, debuted his film Postcards from the Zoo with actors Nicholas Saputra and Ladya Cheryl at this year's Berlinale. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images
Indonesian director Edwin, right, debuted his film Postcards from the Zoo with actors Nicholas Saputra and Ladya Cheryl at this year's Berlinale.

Indonesian director Edwin, right, debuted his film Postcards from the Zoo with actors Nicholas Saputra and Ladya Cheryl at this year's Berlinale.

John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

It's been 50 years since an Indonesian film was included in the Berlinale competition program. This year, Postcards from the Zoo, by filmmaker Edwin, marked the comeback.

Postcards from the Zoo is a poetic tale of a young woman, Lana, who, as a little girl, is left behind by her father in the Jakarta zoo. She is raised by the giraffe keeper.

The wonderful cinematography leads the viewer through the paradise-like place, following Lana as she tends to the majestic animals - the giraffe, the elephant, and the hippos.

One day a magician appears in the zoo.

"The duty of my character is to bring Lana out of the zoo," Saputra says. "So, I think a magician is quite extraordinary for Lana, so she follows him."

The film is about displacement and yearning; the zoo becomes a safe place for the outsiders of society, and, as Nicholas Saputra says, it represents something beyond reality.

"This film is a collection of feelings, but then you stitch it with characters in between to connect one to another."

Since there is no film funding in Indonesia, Postcards from the Zoo was financed through the Toronto and Sundance film festivals, Saputra says. And although it didn't win a prize at the Berlinale, it's already nabbed a distribution deal in Germany.

Indie film Cherry received a rather controversial response. It was the directorial debut of Stephen Elliott, who is mainly known for his novels, such as Happy Baby. The 41 year-old also co-wrote the screenplay with Lorelei Lee.

Cherry tells the story of an 18 year-old girl who runs off to San Francisco to escape her dysfunctional family. After several jobs she starts working in the porn industry.

Cherry director Stephen Elliott i

Cherry director Stephen Elliott Andreas Rentz/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Cherry director Stephen Elliott

Cherry director Stephen Elliott

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

"We are not showing, like, "the" story of a sex worker. We are showing a story of a sex worker," Elliot says. "This is a possible, actual, authentic story, and it's a based on a world we both know very intimately. "We are both from the sex world community."

Co-writer Lorelei Lee adds that there are usually two ways sex workers are portrayed in films.

"The first way is that the character is tragic, or that she leaves the industry, and that's the only ways she is saved."

In Cherry, the main character, played by Ashley Hinshaw, becomes a self-confident woman through her work. She even starts a career directing her own porn movies. The film boasts an eclectic mix of actors: James Franco, Lilly Taylor, Heather Graham, and Def Patel from Slum Dog Millionaire make up the cast.

Cherry left the audience laughing, booing, and in a few cases, even walking out on the movie.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.