Best bits

The must-see films from this year’s Berlin Independent Film Festival
By Niall Flynn | Film+TV | 14 February 2017

Seat in Shadow (2016) dir. Henry Coombe

The Berlin Independent Film Festival (BIFF) is the industry’s annual ode to indie cinema. Taking place over the same period as Berlinale, BIFF operates as a melting pot for first-time filmmakers and low-budget movies; it’s a platform, celebration and crucial business hub and lively marketplace.

As BIFF 2017 continues to revel in the wild, eclectic nature of the annual programme – curated by director Jim Devaux and deputy director Claudine Biswas-MacKenzie – the Babylon Cinema will play host to another year of filmmakers doing wonderful things with minimal budgets. For indie diehards, there isn’t a more important date in the calendar. BIFF’s commitment to providing a platform for independent filmmaking is matched only by its devotion to finding them a place in the modern market.

As the festival draws to a close, we’ve rounded up the films we think deserve more than a watch.

Gallery: Stills from Berlin Independent Film Festival 2017


Virtual Revolution (2016) dir. Guy-Roger Duvert
Set in the year 2047, Neo Paris provides the locale for Guy Roger-Duvert’s cyberpunk take on the rise (and rise) of virtual reality. Drawing inspiration from genre heavyweights such as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Ghost in the Shell, Roger-Duvert’s film sees him undertaking socio-technological interrogation within the frames of an old fashioned sci-fi romp. When asked by the Tech Times if his dystopic presentation of ‘high tech, low life’ reflected today’s society, the director’s response was without hesitation. “The way I see it, the revolution has slowly started already.”

Seat in Shadow (2016) dir. Henry Coombe
Henry Coombe’s debut feature sees the artist filmmaker (and therapist!) dissecting the bizarre rapport between doctor and patient, while exploring the idea of sexual excess and unrequited love. Starring David Sillars and Jonathan Leslie, Seat in Shadow documents teh relationship between Ben (Leslie), a troubled young gay man and Albert (Sillars), the reclusive artist tasked with curing his anxiety. Set in Glasgow, it’s a strange and sordid love letter to the city and its inhabitants; magnetic in every single way.

The Uncertainty Has Settled (2016) dir. Marijn Poels
Marijn Poels’s controversial documentary shines a light on agriculture’s place in the modern world and how it contributes to the climate change dialogue. It’s a daring documentary, in which Poels’s scrutinises the role of the media and the idea of hegemonic labels usurping truth, validity and fact-checking. Speaking on the film, the director claimed that it is about “finding the sensitive line between big dogmas and controversies to break the mainstream beliefs in order to put up a healthy debate and bringing dogmas together.” It already has a lot of people talking.

Timeless (2016) dir. Alexander Tuschinki
One day in 1932, Arnold Richter inexplicably time-travels to a totalitarian future. Alexander Tuschinki writes, directs and stars in this offbeat comedy, which preaches power to the people and viva la revolution. Helmut Berger, Harry Lennix and Rick Shapiro also star in the Allenesque hybrid of comedy, drama, social-commentary and history; it’s a film about “time-travel, girls, art and revolution” – what’s not to like?

Jasmine (2016) dir. Dax Phelan
Dax Phelan’s thriller stars Jason Tobin as Leonard To, a once-successful Hong Kong businessman still reeling from the loss of his wife, believing that a mysterious stranger may be responsible for her death. Jasmine premiered at Hong Kong International Film Festival  and won five awards at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, including Best Narrative Feature, Best Actor in Drama and Best Cinematography. It’s a film about grief, tragedy and obsession that’ll leave you shaken in the best way possible.

Berlin Independent film festival runs from 9th – 15th February.

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