The German Film Fest is upon us once more with 36 films, including 31 features, five documentaries, and a bonus five kids’ programs. Now in its 15th year, the festival is hitting up Sydney (15-29 November) at Chauvel Cinema and Palace Cinema on Norton Street and Melbourne (17-30 November) at Palace Cinema Como, Kino Cinemas, and Palace Cinema Westgrath.
This year there are 25 Australian premiers with lots of funky new works by well-known directors Wim Wenders and Faith Atkins, and the return of some retro classics from the old East German film studio DEFA. It is also a strong year for women both in front and behind the camera.
Goodbye Berlin marks the opening of the festival. It’s a coming of age story that is full of the unexpected. Youngsters Maik and Tschick will take you on a road-trip through provincial Germany. Multiple-award-winning director Faith Atkins brings the best-selling novel Tschick by late author Wolfgang Herrndorf to life. If you wish to take part in the cult following either before or after the screening, then you can find the book published in Australia under the title Why We Took the Car.
This film is dark and intriguing, but more than it stars James Franco, Rachel McAdams, and Charlotte Gainsbourg. The story is about the accidental death of a young boy and trauma that those involved will carry over the next twelve years of their lives. We follow Tomas as the guilt of the fatal accident breaks down his relationship and life. Wim Wenders’ epic drama is coming to Melbourne cinemas in 3D. Lucky for us it’s in English. It is suitable for audiences over the age of 15.
Andi and Benno have both been diagnosed with cancer and are in search of the most beautiful day. In a split decision they decide to run away from their lives and escape to Africa on a one way trip. Directed by Florian David Fitz, it is this year’s German box-office champion. Said to make you both cry and laugh, this tragic comedy is this year’s not-to-miss-film.
This film is under the children’s section of the festival, however I would definitely see this one. Directed by Hans Steinbilcher this will be the first German version of The Diary of Anne Frank brought to screen. As Jews, Anne and family must hide from Nazis in Amsterdam during the Second World War. We follow Anne’s story as she lives in the confides of a few rooms with her family and others.
This is a documentary on the most prolific filmmaker of New German Cinema. Of the small list of German artists that I actually know by name, Rainer Werner Fassbinder is on the top of the list. He was one of the most prolific film maker in post-war Germany. It’s now 34 years after his death and film director Annekatrin Henel brings autobiographical material, unpublished works, and interviews together to bring a new perspective to Fassbinder’s life and works. This has two screenings in Melbourne and one in Sydney.
Deutschland. Made by Germany is another documentary on my guide and I’ll tell you why you must watch it – it’s real. In an age where originality is becoming difficult to find, documentaries offer an intimate view into people’s lives. Director Sönke Wortmann invited all the residents of Germany to film themselves and answer questions about what makes them happy. This film is a collection of 10,000 true stories in their most raw form.
It is the 70 year anniversary of DEFA, the former East German Film studio. This film was made in 1946 and is part of the retro classics being brought back. It is Berlin 1945 and Nazi Concentration camp survivor Susane Wallner returns to her home before the war, only to find it is occupied by Dr Mertens. The heart of the story really begins when Dr Mertens discovers that an old Nazi captain is still alive. Director Wolfgang Staudte raises questions of guilt and atonement in post-war Germany.
Germany’s film industry does not shy away from the tragic stories of their past. The films are proof on the country’s ability to openly discuss and portray events that have previously been in the shadows. On the other hand there are some simply beautiful films like Heidi; Emerald Green a fantasy; and Winnetou’s Son, a family adventure. Some films only have one showing so make sure that you keep on top of the program so that you don’t miss out.
Amber B. is a freelance stage manager who is excited to keep you up to date with Melbourne’s best theatre.
The German Film Fest runs 15-29 November in Sydney (Chauvel Cinema and Palace Cinema) and 17-30 November in Melbourne (Palace Cinema Como, Kino Cinemas and Palace Cinema Westgarth). Book tickets now.
The venues are accessible.