“El Prófugo” (aka “The Intruder”) had its worldwide premiere at the Berlinale 2020

"El Prófugo" (aka "The Intruder") had its worldwide premiere at the Berlinale 2020
Erica Rivas in El Prófugo (aka The Intruder) (2020)

The Berlin International Film Festival, popularly known as Berlinale, is one of the main film festivals in the international circuit. This year 2020 the festival is taking place from the 20th of February until the 1st of May. Perhaps not the most focused on science-fiction and horror movies film festival, always with a strong presence of social and politic dramas, it is unmissable to find every year a few titles that can catch the attention to genre film lovers.

One of the first titles to be screened at this year is The Intruder (2020), also known as El Prófugo as its Spanish language original title, is an Argentinian and Mexican production about a young woman, a dubbing artist and choir singer, who after a traumatic episode during a trip with her partner begins to confuse herself between the real and the imaginary. Ever since a traumatic experience on holiday, Inés has been suffering from insomnia and is haunted by violent nightmares. In the dubbing studio, the microphones record strange sounds that seem to come directly from her vocal cords. These sounds disrupt the dubbing and also threaten her place in the choir. Gradually, Inés falls into a paranoid state in which reality and delusion become increasingly blurred. She begins to entertain a dangerous thought: the characters that populate her dreams are trying to take possession of her body.

The Intruder (2020) is a highly original psycho-sex thriller. This is the second feature film of Natalia Meta after the mystery thriller awards-winner Death in Buenos Aires (2014). The movie becomes an exploration of how we and others perceive ourselves, how gender boundaries can be overcome, as well as the age-old question of whether reality is much more than the world we can see. The director also wrote the screenplay based on the cult horror novel El Mal Menor by Argentine writer C.E. Feiling published in 1996. Erica Rivas, Guillermo Arengo, Mirta Busnelli, Daniel Hendler, Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Agustín Rittano and Cecilia Roth form the main cast.

Another movie to take into consideration is fantasy drama Jumbo (2020). It tells the story of Jeanne, a shy young woman who works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That’s when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction. He is strong and he shines in all the colors of the rainbow. Using his many arms, he throws Jeanne into the air, all the while holding her tight. And Jeanne, who collects rubbish in the amusement park at night, is in love with him. However the woman’s affection for a machine causes a lot of dismay: Her mother, who is usually very open when it comes to sexuality, feels ashamed of Jeanne. And Marc, the amusement park director, would prefer to have her at his side.

Jumbo (2020) is the debut film of Zoé Wittock, who also wrote the screenplay. This is not a usual love movie, but it’s a story were tenderness and bizarre hold hands. This France Belgium, Luxembourg production is starred by Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Bastien Bouillon, Sam Louwyck and Tracy Dossou. Without a doubt, one of the most interesting titles for this Berlinale 2020.

After awards-winner Das unmögliche Bild (2016), Sandra Wollner is back with a science-fiction drama entitled The Trouble with Being Born (2020). It is placed in the near future somewhere in Central Europe. In it, ten-year-old Elli is an android, as we soon learn. She takes shape through programming and this turns her into a fantasy figure. Firstly for a man she calls “Daddy” with whom she lies by the pool and for whom she dresses up in the house at the edge of the forest. Elli is the vessel for his memories, which means nothing to her, but everything to him. One day he runs after a strange echo and gets lost in the darkness while Elli, who follows him, is picked up by strangers. A new identity awaits her, a new ghostly existence – as a blank screen onto which others can project their loss of the paradise that is childhood.

And, finally, one of the biggest names to be part of this year’s Berlinale film festival. As prolific as controversial, Abel Ferrara has been the author of some of the most notorious American independent crime, science-fiction and horror movies of the last decades. Titles like The Driller Killer (1979), Ms .45 (1981), Bad Lieutenant (1992), Body Snatchers (1993), The Addiction (1995), The Funeral (1996), The Blackout (1997), New Rose Hotel (1998), Mary (2005) and 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011) are his unique presentation card. His latest title, Siberia (2020), is a drama about a man who flees from one world to another that is strange and cold. Furs and fires keep him warm; a cave serves as his shelter. He is a broken man who wants to be alone. But even isolation does not bring him inner peace. Once again, he goes on a journey, this time into the self. He explores his dreams, confronts memories and seeks out visions. The rare encounters with other people are in languages he does not speak, determined by bodies that fascinate him, and by types of love he explores and then loses. His journey becomes a dance with demons, but time and again it flares up: light.

Siberia (2020), another attempt to portray the mythical as something intimate, and the radical as a personal journey. But there is only one artist who is as wildly anarchistic, metaphysically mysterious, and at the same time god-obsessed and fanatical about the truth: Abel Ferrara, joining forces here once again with his acting alter ego, Willem Dafoe.

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