Touching narrative dares the viewer to fall in love with a car, turning BMW from brand into its central star
The engaging “Cities of Love” romcom anthology film series continues with the release of its latest entry, Berlin, I Love You, which features a dozen directors and an all-star ensemble cast including Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Luke Wilson, Diego Luna, Jim Sturgess and Mickey Rourke. Unique among these short films about love, life and redemption is the magical ‘Berlin Ride’, in which the city provides the mesmerizing backdrop and a BMW serves as perhaps the most compelling main character and the story’s driving force.
Helmed by Independent Media director and internationally renowned filmmaker Peter Chelsom (Funny Bones, Hector and the Search for Happiness, The Space Between Us), the 11-minute segment stars Sturgess (21, Geostorm, Cloud Atlas) as Jared, a despondent photographer who’s lost his fiancée to his brother and in turn, decides to head to Berlin to drink himself to death. His path of self-destruction, however, is not only deterred by new neighbor Rose, played by Charlotte Le Bon (The Promise, The Hundred-Foot Journey), but by another unlikely source: a talking BMW 850CSi that acts as a co-lead and has a profound effect on Jared’s life.
More effective and memorable than simple product placement, Chelsom’s ‘Berlin Ride’ provides an ingenious blend of entertainment and brand fusion. As the journey unfolds, a revered BMW becomes a central – and magical – character that fits seamlessly within the Berlin, I Love You storyline and captivates audiences in just a brief window of time.
With its quintessential 1990’s styling and retro-chin design, the 850CSi served as an ideal centerpiece according to the director, who received input and support from the German automaker itself for his representation of the car. As a result, the film functions both as a love letter to Berlin and a heartfelt reflection of the BMW brand that dares the viewer to fall in love with the car, much like the film’s main character. “Because this is a car that saves someone’s life, brings that person back into focus, helps him find his passion once more, and prepares him for the metaphorical road ahead, I gave it a strong but warm voice – a very precise identity,” the director explains. “The car’s a pretty good representation for everything BMW likes to project in terms of image and its shape lends itself to my photographing it in abstract ways, too. It draws a fine line between a dream and a short story and just suits the form well.”
Chelsom’s own lifelong passion for photography is reflected in his protagonist Jared, whose pictures are used throughout the film. The director took these photos himself, indulging in his artistic sensibilities in what he dubs “Europe’s coolest city”. “Berlin is a center of modern art, has a really rich mix of architecture, an awesome food scene and is home to people from all over the world,” Chelsom adds. “BMW is a part of that history as well and provided a lot of inspiration. Being a street photographer in Berlin with a specific mission was a bucket list item for me, and I loved it.”
Along with Chelsom, Berlin, I Love You features narratives from a host of fellow directing talent including Dianna Agron, Claus Clausen, Fernando Eimbcke, Justin Franklin, Dennis Gansel, Dani Levy and Til Schweiger.
The film is scheduled to hit theaters, as well as Digital and On Demand, on February 8.
About Independent Media
For more that fifteen years, Independent Media has brought together the very best of advertising and entertainment and produced award-winning campaigns of unusual impact, sophistication and style.
They manage the careers of exceptional directors, who are the winners of Academy Awards, BAFTA’s, Golden Globes and Emmys and have earned more than $6 billion at the box office. More importantly, they are passionate storytellers who understand the importance of nurturing great ideas while bringing a wealth of experience, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and talent to bear. Together with their advertising partners, Independent Media directors have helmed initiatives around the world and across the media spectrum. The productions – ranging from brand integrated content to feature-length films – have competed at Sundance and Toronto International Film Festival and enjoyed numerous awards at Cannes, AICP, D&AD and the Primetime Emmy Awards, among others.