Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year's Eve in Berlin proved to be quite an experience. Of course, it had snowed during the day, and that meant the third day of snow in a row. But the experience was the fireworks. During the afternoon, little smatterings of explosions could be heard, but by five in the afternoon, the explosions became more regular. You could hear them; when i walked to the supermarket, i could see the remnants (red marks in the snow). By the time night set in, the sky would suddenly flare up as more fireworks were set off. But that was always at a bit of a distance.

However, by 10:30 at night, the kids in the neighborhood were gathered in the street below, just outside my window, and they started setting off fireworks: sky rockets and pinwheels and all manner of firecrackers. And so, from my window, i could see fireworks blazing for the New Year. That continued well past midnight: they finally stopped around 1:30 AM. So there was about three hours of fireworks right outside my window.

So that was my New Year's Eve here in Berlin.

Today, i was reading Scott Macauley's thoughts on the Filmmaker Magazine e.mail. It concerned the Best of the Decade poll which Filmmaker ran amongst its editors and staff. The point was to come up with the best "independent" films of the decade. Macauley notes this because he was a little disturbed by the results. The top three films in the poll were: "Mulholland Drive", "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country For Old Men". Macauley notes that the decade was one which made it difficult to define "independent" film in the US, as mini-majors such as Miramax and Focus Features (which were often specialty divisions of larger corporations) were able to finance projects, but because these were not "studio" films proper, those productions would be considered independent.

I'll have to think about this, but in terms of how i viewed the decade: my priorities were with those cinemas which i had some sort of personal involvement, such as the American experimental cinema (Ken Jacobs, Ernie Gehr, Jonas Mekas, Pat O'Neill, Jennifer Todd Reeves, et al) or Asian cinema, particularly Chinese-language cinema. So that defined how i set up my Best of the Decade list for IndieWire. I also threw in two veterans of the Nouvelle Vague, which had been the defining cinema of my youth. But if i had decided to expand, i probably would have included "Mulholland Drive", because i did love that film when i saw it... for me, going to the "Mulholland Drive" screening was very poignant, because it happened after 9/11, but it also happened after the death of Pauline Kael. Pauline had been such a supporter of David Lynch, and watching "Mulholland Drive", i keep thinking how much she might have enjoyed the movie.

There are so many people that i miss, but Berlin is an alienating experience so far. I haven't yet been able to find a support system that really allows me to feel free. I've never been a person who was a social butterfly: i'm the type of person with a few friends, and that's it. Claudia had been one of the friends that i made, but she's now back in the US, having finished her initial foray at the International Research Center. So i wonder what's next. Whatever it is, i hope that Berlin doesn't turn out to be an isolation ward....


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