German Films at 53rd Berlinale

Never before have so many German films been booked at the Berlinale ­ 59! The trio in the Competition all bare watching. Wolfgang Becker’s comedy Good Bye, Lenin! bids farewell to times past in the GDR. Oskar Roehler’s Der alte Affe Angst (Angst), a tale of love and guilt, portrays a sensitive film director slipping into despair. Hans-Christian Schmid’s Lichter (Distant Lights) links five interconnecting stories on both sides of the Oder River dividing Germany and Poland.
        ’Borders’ is also a theme of the International Forum of Young Cinema. In Christoph Hochhäusler’s Milchwald (This Very Moment) two German children are abandoned by their stepmother during a trip to Poland in a modern variation on Grimm fairy tales. Barbara and Winfried Junge’s Eigentlich wollte ich Förster werden ­ Bernd aus Golzow (Actually I Wanted to Be a Forester ­ Bernd from Golzow) is the 18th in this documentation on a school class in Golzow near the Polish border (see photos, page 9). Ulrike Ottinger’s Südostpassage (Southeast Passage) is a six-hour video journey through Eastern Europe to Istanbul. Worth mentioning: German cinema has become more serious, though not less entertaining. »Ensemble films« are in Perspektive Deutsches Kino. Stefan Krohmer’s Sie haben Knut (They Got Knut) is a profound satirical statement on political activism and commune hedonism in the 1980s. Martin Gypkens’s Wir (We) ­ photo above (courtesy Credofilm) ­ deals with the »quarter-life crisis« of ten young people during a summer in Berlin. The darker side of escapades in eastern Germany is seen in Norbert Baumgarten’s Befreite Zone (Liberated Zone). Martina Döcker’s Bernau liegt am Meer (Bernau Is on the Sea) ­ photo above (courtesy Gambit Film) ­ offers a disturbing portrait of a radical youth in Bernau near Berlin. Bernd Fischer’s Grüsse aus Dachau (Greetings from Dachau) is a subtle sketch of the town where the director grew up.
       In Panorama Christian Petzold’s Wolfsburg is about a hit-and-run driver who caused a fatal accident when he was distracted by his mobile phone. Barbara Teufel’s Die Ritterinnen (Gallant Girls), an ensemble portrait of seven young women set in Berlin-Kreuzberg of the late 1980s, employs original interviews to depict a chapter in recent German history. In German Cinema Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Anatomie 2 (Anatomy 2), set in a medical school, is the Columbia-TriStar sequel to the director’s hit thriller of the 2000 season. Marc Ottiker’s 1/2 Miete (1/2 Rent), a digital production about the life-style of a computer-hacker, was nominated at Rotterdam for a Tiger Award. Fatih Akin’s Solino, the story of the first pizzeria opened in the industrial Ruhr, is directed by a Turkish-born director living in Germany.
       Finally a German entry in the Children’s Film Festival: Jörg Grünler’s tender Der zehnte Sommer (The Tenth Summer), set in 1960, marks a boy’s passage, together with friends, from childhood fantasies to the real world of grownups. The magnificent Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Retrospective ­ only 12 of his 21 films have survived in different versions ­ is bonded to an exhibition in the Film Museum and a publication no true cinéaste should be without: »Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. Ein Melancholiker des Films.«

Ron and Dorothea Holloway