Berlin film festival winners and a few words on the latest political scandal

I’m still suffering from that nasty aphthous ulcer on the side of my tongue, which is showing no sign of receding. This is very frustrating, particularly since I can barely eat anything.

One drug that allegedly helps against aphthous ulcers is Thalidomide a.k.a. Contergan. I’m almost desperate enough to take that stuff, though doubt that I’d ever get a prescription.

Tonight the Berlin film festival ended with the awards ceremony. The Golden Bear went to an Italian film called Cesare deve morire (Caesar must die) by two extremely likable Italian brothers in their 80s. This film was barely mentioned in all of the festival reporting so far, which continues the tradition that the film that eventually wins the Golden Bear is rarely the highly touted media favourite. Indeed, this year’s highly touted media favourite – yet another East German Stasi drama called Barbara – only won a Silver Bear for best direction, a classic consolation prize.

The good thing about the Berlin film festival is that offbeat films from non-traditional film countries have a chance to win. We’ve had one of those wins this year, when the Silver Bear for Best Actress went to 15-year-old Congolese actress (at least I think she’s Congolese – neither IMDB nor the Berlinale website gives her nationality) Rachel Mwanza for her performance in Rebelle, a drama about child soldiers.

Indiewire has a nice article in English and overview of all winners, including the short film categories, children’s film categories and the Teddy awards for GLBT cinema.

I should probably say something about the Christian Wulff resignation, but I don’t feel like discussing the whole issue in depth, so here’s just a short summary.

I have never been a particular fan of Wulff and I live in Niedersachsen, the country where he was minister president from 2003 to 2010. Nonetheless, I think he actually made a decent president, one who understood that his job is to shake hands and further integration and unity, not to make divisive political statements, something that many of his predecessor did not get. Plus, his admission that Islam is a part of Germany was long overdue. Calling the Pope out on the Catholic church’s stand on divorced couples was another highlight (Wulff is Catholic and divorced).

What also strikes me is how unremarkable this whole scandal really is. A low interest loan for a unremarkable single family home, a Skoda provided free of charge, a holiday on the island of Sylt paid for by a film producer whose main outputs are ad clips, invitations to a most likely very dull event called North South Dialogue, free clothing for Wulff’s wife Bettina – it’s all so petit bourgeois and pedestrian. If this had been a proper scandal, the house would have been a giant villa, the car a Ferrari, the holiday an orgy with five supermodels in the Caribbean. But to be forced to resign over a Skoda and a home loan, that’s just so anticlimactic. Never mind that Wulff’s salary should be high enough that he shouldn’t have a problem getting a home loan and should well be able to pay for a bloody Skoda. As for the free clothing, does anybody believe that Carla Bruni buys her own clothes? The wife of a head of state is a showcase for the local garment industry.

I’m not too happy about the role of the media either, since the Wulff scandal was very much media driven and largely initiated by the tabloid newspaper Bild after Wulff had a fall-out with Bild‘s editor in chief. Of course, that’s partly Wulff’s own fault, since he was the one who got into bed with Bild in the first place to smooth over the effects his divorce and remarriage to a younger woman might have on his political ambitions. He should have known what sort of rag Bild is.

So now he’s resigned and that was really the best thing he could do in this situation. Though we should not forget that some of Wulff’s predecessors were involved in worse scandals, including one who was a former member of the Nazi party and involved in death sentences at military tribunals in WWII. They named a bridge in Bremen after that former president, because he was born here. No one calls the bridge by that name – it’s Strawberry Bridge to all locals.

Besides, I wonder why nobody was ever bothered by those scandals when Wulff was still minister president of Niedersachsen, at the time when those scandals actually occurred. If Wulff had been forced out then, we would have reelections and perhaps a better government in Niedersachsen (though Niedersachsen is cursed with awful politicians, regardless of political orientation).

As for his successor, most of the potential candidates named so far would be worse than Wulff IMO and I wasn’t a fan of his to begin with. I wasn’t in favour of Joachim Gauck the first time around (he’s too divisive and stuck in the past IMO) and his anti Occupy statements make him even less of a suitable candidate now. The rest of the candidate roster includes one politician I absolutely hate and with good reason, too, and a couple of people who would send the wrong message. There are political and public figures who would make good presidents IMO, but their names are not on the list. And the best I can say about any of the candidates named so far is “He or she would be tolerable”.

Finally for something cool: The Composites is a Tumblr site trying to recreate the appearance of famous literary characters using police sketch composite software.

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