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Music Is In The Air
by Becky Tan

The 58th Berlinale opened with a bang - with much publicity and excitement. The world’s most famous rock band, The Rolling Stones, was in town, attending the world premiere of their film Shine a Light by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese. Tickets were hard to come by and black-market prices went up to Euro 300 for the opening night. The enclosure around the red carpet was packed with fans hours before the performance was to begin, and people were pushing each other for getting a glimpse of Mick Jagger & Co.

Our group of film critics (Becky, Birgit, Shelly) saw six films on a music theme.

Shine a Light- The Rolling Stones performing at the Beacon Theatre New York with special guest appearances by Jack White, Christina Aguilera and Buddy Guy, filmed by an award-winning camera team, using sixteen cameras. With this tribute Martin Scorsese has given us an explosion of sound, light and energy.

Om Shanti Om - India came to Berlin with Sharuhk Khan in his new film. This display of lively dancers, colourful décor and enthusiastic singing had all the ingredientsof the Bollywood films. You could either join the fun, relax in your seat and enjoy the spectacle, or you could look for a more serious performance.

Filth and Wisdom - The appearance of Madonna brought on another rush of excitement, with eager photographers placing ladders near the red carpet to get a better view. Once inside the cinema, a patiently smiling Madonna gave the audience a chance to take photos with their mobile-cameras. After a short introduction, she and her film crew sat down in their reserved seats and watched the world premiere of her first film as a director.

Heavy Metal in Bagdad - A more serious note strikes this documentary. A group of young Iraqi musicians were filmed between 2003 and 2006, whilst trying to keep the band together, despite their struggles against the effects of war around them.

The documentary A Trip to Asia took us to Asia with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. It enjoyed a stupendously successful tour and fans in Taiwan cheered them like rock stars.

Another documentary, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, followed the life of an American cellist, who died of aids in 1992, age 40. He composed “Buddhist bubblegum music” (according to Allen Ginsberg) and modern disco music as well as serious orchestral pieces.