- Director: Hari Sama
- Writer: Hari Sama; Rodrigo Ordoñez; Max Zunino
- Producer: Ale García; Charlotte Lerchner; Antonio Urdapilleta
One for the underage kiddies who [all] desperately want to be overage!
The year is 1986 [in Mexico City]...for those of us who lived, loved and partied through the 80s, This is Not Berlin had the potential to cause a wave of nostalgia to wash over us. Apart from some of the song choices, it [sadly] didn't. And, for those of us who lived in big cities, balancing on the various stepping stones to full-out-and-proud homosexuality, This is Not Berlin will - quite possibly - infuriate...perhaps, even anger.
So...why all this negativity? This is Not Berlin is a victim of these politically correct times. This [film] may be set in the 80s...but, the sentiment is distinctly present day...the obvious target audience being the queer kids now. Hey, there was none of that [reclaimed] queer then...we were all just 'gay' trying to get on and feeling a bit safer in [big city] numbers. Remember, the 80s [and 90s] were decades of horror...no matter how much we [all] partied and rocked the establishment...the spectre of HIV/AIDS was never far away...no matter where you were, machismo Mexico or hedonistic Berlin...
Hari Sama lays it on thick, too thick...his vision of the 'sexuality revolution' is more pastiche than the then reality. Still, the queer kids [of today] will probably give it an approving nod...because, none of them were born when this film took place...and, few of them realise and/or respect what their older generation did for them!
As Mexico anticipates the 1986 World Cup, 17-year-old Carlos is less interested in soccer and more interested in listening to his record collection and admiring Rita, the older sister of his best friend, Gera. Carlos and Gera’s suburban, juvenile monotony is interrupted when Rita’s goth band introduces them to an underground nightclub—The Azteca. The teens are instantly seduced by The Azteca’s regulars and their exhilarating world of performance art, sexual fluidity, and prescription drugs. Carlos and Gera’s friendship is tested as the two explore new identities and face the consequences of adult decisions.
Infused with a post-punk soundtrack and brimming with enchanting performances from a promising, young cast, This is not Berlin delivers an energetic portrait of a clandestine sanctuary propelled by youth fleeing the societal repression of their time. A unique take on adolescent insecurities, awakenings, and maturing, writer/director Hari Sama elevates the classic coming-of-age story in fresh and unexpected ways.