Wednesday, June 18. 2014
The film, about to start shooting in Toronto, follows a man’s hunt for a Nazi war criminal who killed his family.
Staying on subject with German 20th century history --ample fodder for German and international films--, Berlin auteur Christian Petzold is working on “Phoenix” for a potential fall release as writer-director with his outstanding "Barbara" cast Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld, plus one of my new favourite actors, Nina Kunzendorf. (If you want to revisit “Barbara”, we’ll show it again this fall). Here Hoss is a Holocaust survivor who returns home to find her husband with another woman.
Continue reading "New German Films: Akin, Petzold, Herzog, more" »
Sunday, June 15. 2014
Count on Berlin, site of the historic 2006 World Cup, to bring culture into play in the International Soccer Film Festival: "Football and film have discovered that they have a lot in common. Football films depict the social and cultural background of the sport all over the world, its unique ability to simultaneously signify norms and rebellion, riches and poverty, solidarity and fanaticism. It's an ideal métier for storytelling. The sport is full of wonderful images, sympathy and antipathy with protagonists, bitter defeats, tragic heroes. Football contains the sort of archetypes and figures of identification needed to tell cinematic stories."
Let's travel back in cinematic and athletic time & space for a moment...
Friday, June 13. 2014
"Growing up in France I was learning German as a second language in Grade 8. After the war, France & Germany worked hard on rehabilitating a friendship – many French towns would be twinned to a West German city.
I am so thankful to this Great Governmental Program for arousing & shaping my homosexuality. I was 13 years old when I was sent to Frankfurt Am Main, and the family that welcomed me were nudists. When Rolf, the 6-foot 14-year-old blond karate kid who I was paired with, showed me his parents naked in the family album, my blood started to flow like a river covered in rose petals and my heart danced to Nena’s 99 Luft Balloons that summer. I was born to be me. Well sort of…
The film 'Summer Storm' unfolds at a rowing championship in a German campground, and there are a great moments showing the awkwardness of youthful sexual awakening. Continue reading "How movies shaped me (& Happy World Pride)" »
Thursday, June 5. 2014
Their moving documentary "Dancing Dreams", which screened at Berlinale and won the Special Jury Prize at New York's Festival Dance on Camera as well as Best Documentary at the Cinedans Festival Amsterdam, delves into the lifes of these young people and their first encounter with the world of dance --and shows some of the last footage of and last taped interview with Pina before her untimely death.
On the occasion of Tanztheater Wuppertal's guest performances of "Kontakthof" at the Luminato Festival this June and the company's 40th anniversary, we bring arts journalist Anne Linsel to Toronto to screen and discuss her film and collaboration with Pina Bausch:
“Dancing Dreams” (2010) by Anne Linsel & Rainer Hoffmann
June 13, 4pm DVD screening, followed at 5.30pm by a conversation between Linsel and Christopher House, AD of Toronto Dance Theatre
Free admission at the Goethe-Institut Toronto
In the accompanying book, Anne Linsel engaged Pina Bausch and the young students about their process and goals: Continue reading "Pina Bausch's "Dancing Dreams" -..." »
Thursday, May 22. 2014
One of Germany's most celebrated auteurs, Oscar winner Volker Schlöndorff, was recently honoured for transitioning Babelsberg from centralized communist film production to Western market economy as its director from 1992 to1997. 100+ years of (nearly) uninterrupted film production from Weimar to Nazi Gemany to the East German DEFA to a unified Germany have included many economic and artistic ups-and-downs. At the Berlinale 2014, the "Filmstudios Babelsberg" were more present than ever with three major films. Europe's larget film factory has become an international brand with big plans for the future, as Berlin's Tagesspiegel reports:
Continue reading "Europe's Hollywood: Studio Babelsberg" »
Thursday, May 15. 2014
Front runner DAS FINSTERE TAL walked away with Best Film (Silver), Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Set Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Music, Best Sound. 8 awards out of 9 nominations, a clear vote for genre cinema.
DIE ANDERE HEIMAT was honoured with Best Film (Gold), Best Screenplay, Best Director, a clear choice for arthouse, and in a way also a lifetime achievement vote -- congratulations Herr Reitz!
FACK JU GÖHTE by Bora Dagtekin --- Germany's biggest box office hit... and that is exactly what the film won.
ZWEI LEBEN by Georg Maas --- Germany's Oscar contender won Best Editing.
OSTWIND by Katja von Garnier (also nominated for Best Music) --- at TIFF Kids as "Windstorm", won Best Children's Film.
And two brilliant younger German actresses were honoured: Jördis Triebel won Best Actress for WESTEN, Sandra Hüller Best Supporting Actress for FINSTERWORLD.
Look forward to seeing several of the nominees and winners at our upcoming Toronto film events!
by Jutta Brendemühl
image: Goethe-Institut Toronto
Tuesday, May 13. 2014
In an odd little village, the dripping of water is more important than the gushing of love. As crazy as the story may sound --the happiness of two childhood sweethearts who seem destined for one another is threatened when the women of the village, angered by male indifference toward the water shortage, go on a sex strike that threatens the young couple's first night of love-- it's based on real events:
Director Veit Helmer read this story in Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper in 2001: The women in the southern Turkish village of Sirt want to force their husbands to repair the decrepit drinking-water pipes with a sex boycott. They had banned their husbands from their bedrooms about a month earlier after getting fed up with having to walk for kilometers to get potable water, reported Turkish newspaper “Hürriyet”. Most of the women took part in the boycott. They thus succeeded in getting the men to repair the pipes and ask the government for aid. “Our wives have the right to protest,” said the village elder Imbrahim Sari. “But we´re the ones who suffer.”
Helmer then spent four years looking for the right village to turn the story into a film: Continue reading "GOETHE FILMS: Absurdistan is Everywhere" »
Thursday, May 8. 2014
In a report on the shooting of “Absurdistan” the film is called a “silent film in esperanto”. In what genre do you categorize your third film?
For me, the charm of movie-making lies in the filmic narration, in finding images that convey emotions rather than putting words in the mouths of actors. The film thus becomes a universal art form.
What was the biggest challenge in the production process?
Azerbaijan hasn´t had a film infrastructure since the collapse of the Soviet Union. One year before the start of the shoot I gave workshops in order to teach Azerbaijan film students about how to work on set. The catering truck, stocked with 30,000 meters of film, took a week to get here from Germany. The team came from Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Iran, France, Germany. There was a Babylonian confusion of tongues on set.
Continue reading "GOETHE FILMS: Absurdistan is..." »
Tuesday, May 6. 2014
A novel of course never goes on screen untouched. “One cannot convert a book into a film one-to-one, you have to reduce the material,” says Alain Gsponer, the Swiss director of "Lila, Lila". Especially the endings of the book and the film differ from each other. Changes also affected the satire that comes out in the book about the book market. “We cut this aspect back and focused more on the media hysteria, how everything is blown out of proportion by the media,” says the director. David (Brühl), the protagonist, lies about being the author of the tragic love story, and suddenly becomes a media darling.
Continue reading "GOETHE FILMS: "Lila, Lila" from book..." »
Tuesday, April 29. 2014
"He wanted to go to Hollywood and made it as far as Moscow" goes the byline for Leander Hausmann's biting 2012 political satire "Hotel Lux", which opens our May GOETHE FILMS series. A comedy that dares to go to the epicentre of German 20th century disaster and shame. It's Berlin 1938. Apolitical comedian Hans Zeisig (played by popular German comic Michael Bully Herbig) has made one too many Hitler jokes. He flees the city with false papers and finds himself between a rock and a hard place at the notorious Hotel Lux in Moscow -- a real historic place:
Russian baker Iwan Filippow´s delicacies were known far beyond the city of Moscow. In 1911 Filippow´s son expanded the family business, adding an additional four floors to the two-story bakery, which then became the Hotel Franzija. In 1933 two more floors were added and the hotel had been renamed Hotel Lux, now offering 300 rooms for some 600 guests. From 1921 on, four years after the October Revolution, the hotel became the accommodation for the Communist International, the Comintern. Moscow in the 20’s and 30’s was a mega-city at the dawn of a new era. The town was populated by a large, determined working class, and Stalin was the hope and the downfall of many who sought refuge and shelter at the Hotel Lux. Among them were communist officials who had to flee their fascist home countries and received asylum at what has become known as the “boarding house of the world revolution”.
Continue reading "GOETHE FILMS: Welcome to the Hotel Lux" »
Monday, April 28. 2014
Imagine you left your home to move far away. You got carried away by a wind of change and became untrue to yourself. You reinvented yourself and felt free. All of a sudden though, pressure arises within you; at first a slight longing which soon becomes a gaping hole. The feeling is distinct, almost tangible, however, you cannot describe it. Words fail you. You return to where everything began, your home, yet the terrible void remains and you begin to wonder: was it always part of me?
"Anderswo" tells of Noa’s search for her place in life in a touching manner which combines drama and comedy. The movie is driven by its devotion to the protagonists and it casually moves the audience to contemplate universal themes such as homeland, love, language and belonging.
Berlin-based Israeli director Ester Amrami has experience in the geographic and cultural inbetween: Continue reading "TJFF: Ester Amrami takes us "Anywhere..." »
Friday, April 25. 2014
What is your favourite classy comedy? Email us your answer until 1 May for your chance to win a DVD of another successful German comedy, Sandra Nettelbeck's "Mostly Martha", or as Rolling Stone called it, "the tastiest film about food and sex since Big Night!"
by Jutta Brendemuehl, Toronto
Tuesday, April 15. 2014
Fast forward nearly 120 years to the Berlinale 2014. German weekly "Die Zeit" used the occasion of the international film industry flocking to the German capital to go on an excursion into the treasure vaults of the Deutsche Kinemathek:
Unlike France or England, Germany does not have a central institution in charge of the preservation of its national cinematic heritage. Instead, there are a number of institutions working together. One of them is the Federal Archive, which stores historical film negatives in an air-conditioned and constantly humid environment. Others are the Film Museums in Potsdam, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich, the German Film Institute, and the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin with its huge collection.
Rainer Rother, the Kinemathek’s director, meets with us for coffee on the seventh floor of the Sony Center. For eight years Rother has been running the institution that owns the most renowned collection of the German “film exile” and, accordingly, has a strong international focus. The inheritances of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Georg Wilhelm Pabst and Fritz Lang can be found at the Kinemathek. Only recently did director Werner Herzog commit his personal files and film copies. Continue reading "German film heritage: Save them if you can!" »
Monday, April 7. 2014
What certainly seems an endless source of joy/pride/bewilderment/ridicule to the world is the German language. So before we screen "Hotel Lux", "Lila, Lila" and "Absurdistan" May 6, 8 and 13, we'll keep you entertained with these instructive/teasing star teasers in German:
James Bond picks up his German rental car (and we all know which brand).
Q aka Monty Python's John Cleese has special powers of course and "kann mit einem Eierlöffel Fledermäuse töten."
Mads Mikkelsen... Continue reading "New course: "German with the Stars"" »
Friday, March 28. 2014
Quick but worthwhile digression since this is basically an Austrian film: If you wonder "What is the difference between Germany and Austria anyway?", Christoph Waltz gave Conan O'Brien his very personal and frank take.
Some of the major German Film Award nominees that are not surprisingly and rightly on the list:
DIE ANDERE HEIMAT by Edgar Reitz ---at TIFF 2013 Continue reading "German Film Awards 2014: What's in store" »