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Panorama Audience Award for Best Feature Film - Profile
by Rose Finlay

Timur Bekmambetov, USA/UK/Cyprus/Russia

What happens when a foolish, inexperienced reporter tries to take on ISIS? Nothing good. Amy Whittaker (Valene Kane) is a British freelance writer hoping to make her big break by pretending to be a young, naïve, timid, Muslim convert — precisely the sort of woman ISIS tries to recruit to come to Syria. Without taking any time to do research, to properly set up an online profile, or try to make sure her own life is secure, Amy jumps into the deep end of the pool and begins to message with a recruiter. This takes very little time, and soon she finds herself sucked into a world where she must play a very precise part… lest her life be at risk. Even more worrying, Amy soon finds herself tempted by her recruiter and the line between truth and fiction begin to blur.

It needs to be mentioned that the entirety of the film takes place on a computer screen using platforms such as Facebook and Skype. Like other attempts to use this shtick in the past, Profile also soon becomes limiting and annoying, particularly as the plot progresses and it becomes less believable that the protagonist would be using the computer. Unfortunately, on top of that, poor quality acting, and characterization, which ranges from frustrating to absolutely ridiculous, does little to save the already beleaguered film. While still fast-paced enough to prevent audience walkouts, the amateurish nature of the production makes the whole thing feel more like a film-school project than something worth showing at a film festival like the Berlinale. Won Panorama Audience Award for best fiction film.