German Film Fest
Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra)
November 15-30, 2016
Now in its 15th year, the German Film Fest Australia is a major cultural event organised by the Goethe-Institut, Germany’s cultural institute promoting the study of German abroad and encouraging cultural exchange, and German Films.
The Festival took place at Palace Cinemas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra and showcased Germany's thriving filmmaking industry bringing contemporary, classic, award-winning, and internationally acclaimed German- language films with English subtitles to Australia.
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 and obsessive filmmakers in German history: Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
The furiously prolific and often erratic iconoclast is commonly held responsible for the resurgence of German cinema in the 1970s, and made 41 feature-length films during his 36 years on this earthly round - The Marriage of Maria Braun, being one of the most prominent ones.
Fassbinder has been heralded as ''the most original talent since Godard” and while his films are undeniably irritating and a little strange; they are also completely alive with one response he never provoked being indifference.
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, the year of his greatest international adulation, he on more than one occasion announced, in perfect English, that he didn't speak English, only to then argue with 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; and Coming 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
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