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Panorama ‘One in a Thousand’ Opening Points to Berlin DNA

John Hopewell

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BERLIN — If there’s one thing that marks the Berlinale apart from most of the world’s biggest festivals, it’s the warmth  and sophistication of the relation between visiting filmmakers and the Berlin Festival’s huge festival-going public.

This year’s Panorama opening, marked by the world premiere of Argentine Clarisa Navas’ queer drama “One in a Thousand,” was a case in point. As often, the questions asked by the audience were every bit as observant as this at many press conferences. One spectator at the traditional, brief Q & A after the screening, praised the actors’ “incredible” performances, and asked indeed if they were professionals. (The answer, said Ana Carolina Garcia, who plays Renata, one of the two leads, is that several trained at Argentina’s Universidad Pública Nacional (UNA) and Luis Molina, who plays one of the heroine’s cousin’s, is finishing up at the Enerc, the INCAA Argentine film institute film school. When an actor who is starting out becomes a professional is indeed a moot question, Molina reflected.)

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As much of the entertainment world veers towards ever more feel-good fare, the Berlin Festival’s public still seems avid for far more daunting fare. The gala screening of “One in a Thousand” was packed to the rafters for a film set in the margins – a council flat projects complex, or so it seems, on the outskirts of Argentina’s Corrientes, a place of narrow passageways, grey, grimed concrete walls, cramped apartments with bickering families and a high drug use.

That, like many films which pack out this year’s Panorama, in time-honored tradition, made for tough viewing. Yet the Berlinale audience reacted warmly to the screening.

Navas knows this part of Corrientes well, she told Variety. Yet the film is inspired she said, not just by the place but the multiple feelings she felt making it, affected by the sensibilities of the people there.

Few Panorama films do not have redeeming moments of hope and grace, and the audience warmed to “One in a Thousand’s,” such as its illicit and unresolved love affair between the heroine, Iris, a gawky 17.year old who plays basketball, and a far more worldly girl, Renata, who has lived abroad, is one half of a lesbian act in a night-club, and broadens Iris’ horizons.

The most moving part of the film, however, may be when Iris simply chills out with her equally young and gay cousins Dario and Ale who, one senses, will be there to support her her whole life. “The construction of affective bonds is the ultimate act of resistance for people living in the periphery,” Navas said.

The same may be said for people rather closer to the center.

Paola Suárez contributed to this article.

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