Columbia Filmmakers Made Impression on Berlinale

March 8, 2016

Johnny Ma’s ’14’s feature debut, Old Stone, was one of the more hotly anticipated films at the festival. IT was also a truly Columbia production, with most of it’s key crew comprised of Columbia alumni. The film, about a taxi driver who faces backlash after he chooses to save the life of a pedestrian in a car crash, is written and directed by Ma and produced by Jing Wang ’15 and Chi-an Lin ’10. Ming Kai Leung ’06 is the director of photography, Pei-Ju Hsieh ’14 is the script supervisor and Avram Dodson ’15 is the assistant editor, The story revolves around the convoluted insurance system in China, which often compels drivers who have been in car accidents to leave the scene of a crash lest they spend the rest of their lives paying off insurance fees. “Ma makes a remarkably mature debut, exposing with stunning clarity the infuriating red tape and flawed logic of China’s system regarding criminal responsibility and insurance policies,” Variety wrote in its review.

Toby Fell-Holden’s ’13 short film Balcony won the prestigious Crystal Bear for Best Short in the Berlinale’s Generation Program. “In an ostensibly classic tale of a friendship between two girls who come from different cultures, this film succeeds in astounding the viewer through its sophisticated dramaturgy,” the jury wrote in its award citation. “The story holds a mirror up to a society still plagued by persistent clichés, a mirror that in the end also forces the audience to face their own prejudices. Provocative and full of strong imagery, this production also manages at the same time to make our current challenges clear." Read more about this award winning short here.

Heavy Craving, written and directed by Pei-Ju Hsieh ’14, was presented at Berlinale Talents as part of the Script Station program, and current student Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic was at the Berlinale Talents' Short Film Station for her thesis film, Into the Blue, which was also selected for the European Short Pitch program at NISI MASA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young European filmmakers.

Professor James Schamus’s directorial debut, Indignation, also screened at Berlin. Adapted from Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, the film was one of the biggest successes at Sundance this year, earning much critical praise for its depiction of a young Jewish man’s cultural, religious and romantic struggles at an Ohio college in 1951. Schamus is no stranger to Berlinale, having served as president of the 2014 Berlinale’s international jury. Read more about Indignation here.

Director Kyzza Terrazas’s ’05 film Bayonette was selected for the Berlinale Co-Production Market, a two-and-a-half-day-long event that brings the international filmmaking community together to collaborate on new projects.

LA Teodosio ’15 worked as producer and Daniella Kahane ’14 as executive producer on Little Men, about a pair of young boys whose families quarrel over a shop lease in Brooklyn. The film, which had its world premiere at Sundance, has been highly praised in the press. Read more about it here.