German Film Fest
Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra)
November 15-30, 2016
The 15th year incarnation of the the German Film Fest in Australia is going to be the last one for a while.
Four film industry guests and filmmakers were invited to attend the Australian premieres of their films, participate in talks, panels and Q&A sessions: Young hopeful Jella Haase attended the Festival. The young actress who received the European Shooting Star Award at the Berlinale earlier this year presented her most recent films; 4 Kings and Looping. Stage and screen actor Clemens Schick, known on international terrain for starring in Casino Royale (2006) and Point Break (2015), presented his two films featured in this year’s festival programs; drama 4 Kings, and sci-fi film Hidden Reserves.
Leonie Krippendorff traveled to Australia to present her first award winning feature film Looping at the German Film Fest and former head of corporate affairs with Football Federation Australia and one of the first people to publicly raise concerns about the integrity of FIFA Bonita Mersiades joined the Dirty Games panel discussions in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to share her insights into the ethics of international sports.
Having been involved with the topic of queer identity and how it translates to the big screen, Jella Haase, Clemens Schick, and Leonie Krippendorff were joined by Australian film industry members for an open talk following the screening of Looping.
In addition to the opening and closing night parties, the Goethe-Institut presented themed events, e.g. the Swiss Soiree (an evening organized in tandem with the Swiss Consulate, which culminated in the screening of Alain Gsponer’s adaption of Johanna Spyn’s classic Heidi and the audience being sustained with delectable Swiss specialties).
A highlight of the German Film Fest was a tribute to one of the most controversial characters in German film history: The gradnmaster Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Fassbinder, who notoriously never ceased to burn the candle from both ends, is not for nothing held responsible for the injecting much needed fresh blood into German cinema in the 1970s.
Fassbinder has been heralded as ‘’the most original talent since Godard” and while his films are intentionally a little strange and never dull. Indifference has certainly never been a reaction his emissions elicited. With Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, featuring beloved Brigitte Mira of Drei Damen vom Grill fame, demonstrated what the critic Manny Farber called a ''radical mix of snarl and decoration.''
It would have been fantastic to have Fassbinder grace the German Film Fest in Australia with his paunchy presence, given that in 1977, being at an alltime height career-wise, he announced in perfect English that he was not able to speak English, only to then indulge in extense arguments his interpreter about every phrase that was conveyed to the English speaking journalists.
Celebrating Germany’s vibrant underground party scene, a Club Night with a screening of the anarchic, drug filled As We Were Dreaming, followed by AKIZ’s It Follows meets Spring Breakers teen-oriented German horror Der Nachtmahr, which was followed by a silent disco.
Western and Eastern philosophies clashed during the insightful panel discussion following the screening of My Buddha Is Punk, a thoughtful documentary looking at a group of young idealists in Myanmar who combine punk and Buddhist philosophies.
Paying homage to the classics of German film history, the DEFA Retrospective celebrated the work of former East German film studio:The Murderers Are Among Us (1946), the first DEFA production, featuring Hildegard Knef; Divided Heaven (1964), based on Christa Wolf's internationally-renowned novel; The Legend of Paul and Paula (1973), a controversial love story and one of DEFA’s greatest successes; andComing Out (1989), the only East German film to discuss homosexuality and depict punk culture. In Melbourne the DEFA screenings were introduced by film experts Peter Krausz and Cerise Howard.
The festival was bookended with a collision of music, circus and comedy: Mic Conway and his partner in crime Sean ‘T-Bone‘ Curtis performed an array of idiosyncratic songs live at the Variete? Closing Night in Sydney, and multi-genre band 8 Foot Felix closed the Festival in Melbourne with their whimsical mix of sea shanties, hip-hop and blues.
Photos by KAVV