Another article from the Berlinale Talent Campus…
(L-R: Josef Fares, Damian Harris, Vinzenz Hediger, Hiam Abbass and Newton I. Aduaka. Photo from Berlinale Talent Campus website)
Cinema has “to engage in the depiction of emotional extremes,” said Vinzenz Hediger, the moderator of The Dark Side of Cinema panel, which took a wide-ranging look at human emotions in film. The Berlinale Talent Campus event featured Israeli Arab actress Hiam Abbass, known for subtly playing tormented characters in THE SYRIAN BRIDE and PARADISE NOW. Alongside her were Nigerian director Newton I. Aduaka (EZRA); Lebanese/Swedish director/actor Josef Fares (LEO) and English director/writer Damian Harris (GARDENS OF THE NIGHT).
Speaking about her role in LEMON TREE, which is showing this year’s Panorama at the Berlinale, Abbass said that cinematic emotion is key to reaching geographically disparate audiences. She asked herself, “How do I bring all these people to understand the same language?” and said that she often finds her answer in facial expression and gesture.Although Abbass adds that such roles give her the “enjoyment of exploring different emotions that I’m not always exposed to in my private life,” she is careful not to identify too closely with her characters. She said, “I need this separation of myself and the character I’m playing, to be able to look at her.”
Aduaka, whose film EZRA is about Nigerian child soldiers, mentioned that his work was inspired by wanting to bring news stories back to life. He said: “Behind the headlines there is a lack of sensitivity.” Hediger agreed, and added: “Cinema can do what other forms of journalism can’t do, put you in the emotional position.” Harris, whose GARDENS OF THE NIGHT is about child prostitution, said “it was horror that attracted me” to the subject, and the clip we saw succinctly conveyed this emotion.
Bringing a ray of sunshine to proceedings, Fares said: “I love to give the smile to my audience.” Abbass concurred, but added that if she makes her audience cry, it isn’t necessarily a negative experience, it can be cathartic.