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REVIEWS BERLINALE SPECIAL


UK-US. 2012. 144mins Director Kevin Macdonald Production companies Shangri-La Entertainment, Tuff Gong Pictures, Cowboy Films International sales Fortissimo Films, www.fortissimo.nl Producers Steve Bing, Charles Steel Executive producers Ziggy Marley, Chris Blackwell Co-producer Zach Schwartz Associate producers Neville ‘Bunny Wailer’ Livingston CD, Suzette Newman Cinematography Alwin Kuchler, Mike Eley Editor Dan Glendenning


Marley REVIEWEDBY DAVID D’ARCY


Bob Marley was a global industry before he died aged 36 in 1981. Now that ever-growing industry has its inspiring official cinematic story, a must-see event for the faithful, which should bring a new army of followers. Marley’s fans all over the world will flock to Kevin Macdon-


ald’s long and thorough bio-documentary. The singer’s life was scrutinised extensively in books, but the film should now multi- ply that audience — and stimulate music sales — which mush- roomed since 1981 everywhere from Japan to Africa. The film tracks a musical journey with revealing details and


context from Marley’s native Jamaica. His rural birthplace was anything but exotic. Small towns lacked electricity and people made their own music. His white father — photographed, unsmiling, on horseback — disappeared. Bob was not Norval Marley’s only child with local women, but his mixed race set him apart. Family and friends lead us through the early days, to the


Trenchtown slums, and to Wilmington Delaware, where Mar- ley’s mother made hotel beds and young Bob also worked. For- tunately for world culture, the American dream was not enough for this reggae artist. Moving dutifully through Marley’s musical roots, the film


samples reggae’s early days, as a gritty sound emerges from local musicians and inspired producers. The early Marley was not commercial enough to justify meddling from the industry. We are told the best time to have seen Marley was in the early


1970s, when he played night after night to crowds of 500 peo- ple. Yet what we now know as the throbbing Marley sound shed that rawness in the studio and stadiums. In the 144 minutes, music is measured out carefully as testi-


mony follows the young star through marriage, love affairs, kids (11 that we know of with seven mothers), political violence in Jamaica, exile and cancer. Photos of the cancer-stricken star under treatment in icy Switzerland are poignant. Macdonald understood Marley’s charisma that fed his leg-


end. Almost killed in political fighting in 1976, Marley returned to Jamaica in 1978 for a concert (that friends warned him not to perform) where warring leaders climbed onstage and shook hands. It is a rare moment that shows what music can achieve, and also points to the limits of celebrity politics. Shrouded in smoke, Bob Marley had a magician’s feel for an


audience. Yet he was not an orator or even an articulate man, certainly not much of a father, and sometimes obtuse — no sur- prise for a rock star. Macdonald’s visual story deploys a widely sourced jumble of


archive imagery and footage from stage and studio. An official project, with co-operation from Marley’s family and Blackwell, the film avoids solemnity and caution. If secrets remain untold, someone else will reveal them.


PANORAMA


Isr-Fr-Ger. 2012. 85mins Director Ami Livne Production companies Golden Cinema Arava, EZ Films, Laila Films International sales Golden Cinema, eshiray@ zahav.net.il Producers Eyal Shirai, Elie Meirovitz, Itai Tamir Screenplay Guy Ofran Cinematography Boaz Yehonatan Yaacov Editor Zohar Sela Production designer Salim Shehade Music Assif Tsahar Main cast Adnan Abu Wadi, Adnan Abu Muhareb, Maysa Abed Alhadi, Eli Menashe


Sharqiya REVIEWED BY DAN FAINARU


Though it may look like another topical picture on the Middle East conflict — Israelis on the one side, Arabs on the other — this spare, modest, thoughtful, slow-paced first film, with all its con- stant reminders of the violent climate in this part of the world, is much more about the fundamental cultural discrepancies that keep the two communities apart. Requiring quite a bit of background information to tie up the


loose ends of Sharqiya’s sketchy plot, and insisting on a deliber- ately subdued tempo appropriate to its characters but not neces- sarily to the average Western market, Livne’s film should work well with specialised audiences interested in ethnographic stud- ies rather than in sheer entertainment. Livne’s documentary background is evident in his approach to


the story of Kamel (Abu Wadi), a security guard in Beer Sheba’s central bus station, who lives in a shack somewhere in the middle of the Negev desert, next to his brother Khaled (Abu Muhareb) and Khaled’s wife Nadia (Abed Alhadi). Kamel, like many other Bedouin, has served in the Israeli


army. He has a natural gift for fixing TV sets and DVD players, and spends most of his time in the hub of a busy town. He lives with one foot at least in the modern world. But for him, home is still the improvised desert hut, the kind that his nomad ancestors had inhabited since ancient times. His brother, however, rejects any attempt to change his way of


life. He raises goats for a living, considers Kamel a traitor for mixing with the enemy — namely with anything that might endanger tradition — and will not allow his wife to waste her time reading books or consider the possibility of studies when she should stay at home and have children. When the families are threatened by a state order to pull down


their homes, which they had put up without a permit, Khaled hatches a plan to stage a terrorist attack and then pretend to pre- vent it — with the idea of winning the attention of the media and raising sympathy for his personal plight. Imposing the pace of the desert throughout the proceedings,


Livne uses a cast of non-professionals acting naturally, as if there were no camera around, which imparts an even greater sense of documentary authenticity, particularly in the portrait of Bedouin life. Generating a feeling of a cosy home in Kamel and Khaled’s ramshackle lodgings is the real achievement; seeing their home torn down is actually heartbreaking.


n 18 Screen International at the Berlinale February 13, 2012


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