Alain Berliner Biography

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Birth Name: Alain Berliner
Born: 1963
Birth Place: Belgium

Berliner had already begun a screenplay he hoped would mark his feature directing debut, but Chris vander Stappen's initial draft completely entranced him and altered his course. The two writers worked their way through 13 more drafts before arriving at a final screenplay, and Berliner shot the film over nine weeks in the summer of 1996. His authentic "Levittown" location at Mennecy, 30 miles south of Paris, provided the candy-colored suburban neighborhood (with each garage door painted a different pastel) that was his first tip of the hat to director Tim Burton (remember "Edward Scissorhands"), and the exploration of the main character's fantasy world via dreamlike computer-animated sequences recalled the Burton-produced "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993). In this "Ozzie and Harriet" world where conformity is de rigueur, a seven-year old boy upsets the balance by wearing dresses, playing with dolls and insisting: "I'm a boy now, but one day I'll be a girl." The heartfelt, uplifting story of this boy and his identity problem elicited sympathy for both the child and parents as they cope with the fallout the situation provokes. Though the film's homosexual undertones may have prevented it from receiving an Academy Award nomination (after winning the Golden Globe as Best Foreign Language Film), the overriding theme of family closeness gave "Ma Vie en Rose" its universal appeal, and its generalized study of difference sounded a clarion call for tolerance.

The need for tolerance was also at the root of Berliner's next film, "The Wall" (1998), a featurette which aired on the French-German cultural station Arte as part of the omnibus "2000 as Seen by . . ." In "The Wall", the hostilities between Flemish and French-speaking Belgians become embodied (through a fanciful touch of surrealism) by the brick structure which suddenly appears down the middle of a small Brussels' chip wagon straddling the linguistic border. Berliner also contributed to the screenplay of the disappointing French-Canadian children's fantasy "Babel" (1999). He fared better with his English-language directing debut "Passion of Mind" (also 1999), starring Demi Moore as a New York publisher who falls asleep and wakes up in the French countryside of Provence as a widow with two small children. Her subsequent quest to discover which of her two lives is real and which is imaginary was right up the alley for this accomplished disciple of Delvaux.