Germany on the big screen
This year’s German Film Festival explores issues ranging from neo-Nazism and cancer to intercultural bonds.
Published: December 12, 2012 (Issue # 1739)
‘Stopped on Track’ won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in 2011.
The annual German Film Festival returns to the city this week, introducing local filmgoers to the best movies to come out of Germany in recent years.
According to the organizers of the event, the main goal of the festival is to present viewers with a variety of recent German films that have not been screened in Russia before. With this in mind, the jury members from German Films (the information and advisory center for the promotion of German films worldwide) and the Goethe Institut, together with Russian film reviewers, have carefully selected the festival’s movies from among the laureates of both German Film Academy Awards and international festivals, successful debuts by young directors and the highest-grossing German films of the year. All of the films will be screened in German with Russian subtitles.
This year’s festival opens on Thursday, Dec. 13, with “Three Fourths Moon” (Dreiviertelmond, 2011) by Christian Zübert about a grumpy German taxi driver who takes a six-year-old Turkish girl under his wing after his wife leaves him.
“For the opening film, we tried to find a movie that is not too specific, but also not too ‘easy,’” said Friedrich Dahlhaus, director of the St. Petersburg branch of the Goethe Institut. “This year it will be ‘Three Fourths Moon,’ a kind of tragicomedy, which offers encounters on different levels — generation-wise and also intercultural-wise,” he said.
“Three Fourths Moon” will be presented by its director Christian Zübert and lead actor Elmar Wepper at 6.30 p.m. on Dec. 13.
Director Brigitte Bertele will also be present at the screening of her film about a woman who seeks justice after being raped, “The Fire” (Der Brand, 2011) on Saturday, Dec. 15.
One of the highlights of the festival looks set to be “Stopped on Track” (Halt auf freier Strecke, 2011), directed by Andreas Dresen. The drama about a man suffering from an inoperable brain tumor won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Another much discussed movie showing at the festival is David Wnendt’s drama about a young female neo-fascist, “Combat Girls” (original title Kriegerin, 2011).
The festival also features two movies that competed against each other at the 62nd Berlinale Film Festival: “Mercy” (Gnade, 2012) by Matthias Glasner and “Home for the Weekend” (Was Bleibt, 2012) by Hans-Christian Schmid. Both films center on family breakdown and reunification.
In keeping with festival tradition, “Next Generation,” an annual compilation of short films by students from Germany’s universities of television and film will also be shown at this year’s festival. Also showing are the children’s film “My Magical Friend Sams” (Sams im Glück, 2012), based on books written by Paul Maar; and a series of other thought-provoking films presenting a wide range of styles and ideas.
The festival, which is being held in St. Petersburg for the ninth time, generally addresses issues common to all mankind, while at the same time focusing on specifically German topics. For example, no German Film Festival is complete without a movie devoted to the time when East Berlin and West Berlin were located in different countries and divided by the Berlin Wall. This year the festival features two films, taking the audience back to the relatively recent past: The romantic melodrama “The West Wind” (Westwind, 2011) by Robert Thalheim, and a documentary film about street culture in East Berlin called “This Ain’t California” (2012), by Marten Persiel.
The German Film Festival runs at the Avrora movie theater from Dec. 13 through Dec. 16. For a full program, visit www.avrora.spb.ru