Amongst a crowded schedule of films and festivals comes a relative newcomer, the German Film Festival, now in its third year and going from strength to strength. Some of the greatest and most controversial film directors have been German (think Werner Herzog, R.W. Fassbinder and Wim Wenders) and German cinema, well-established in the silent era by the likes of Fritz Lang, continued strongly until fading away in the 1980s. The last few years have seen a revival in German filmmaking, notably Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run (1998) and Wolfgang Becker’s Goodbye, Lenin! (2002) both hugely successful in Germany and also in Australia.

This year’s festival provides an opportunity for lovers of good cinema to see a variety of films, including three direct from the 2004 Berlin Film Festival. Seventeen feature-length films will make their Australian premiere during the festival, nearly all of them made in 2003. Along with feature-length films, the program presents a comprehensive program of shorts, as well as films made by graduates of the Filmakademie Baden-W?emberg. Recent graduates Benjamin Quabeck and Sven Taddicken will be attending the festival along with veteran TV director Jo Baier, whose film Swabian Children is on the program. And in case you have spare time during the festival, Marlene Dietrich -“ A Legend In Photographs, a selection of the 15,000 photographs of the diva taken by some of the greatest photographers of the time, will be on display at the Goethe-Institut in Woollahra.

The Festival opens with the German box office hit and feel-good drama directed by S? Wortmann, The Miracle Of Bern. Set in 1954 West Germany, the film interweaves the events surrounding West Germany’s against-the-odds World Cup soccer bid with a post-war family story. Director Wortmann is an ex-football player himself and The Miracle Of Bern will appeal to lovers of old-fashioned entertainment. The film deservedly won the audience award at Locarno in 2003.

Europe 99euro-films 2 is the work of nine energetic, new generation directors who collaborated to create one feature film on a budget of 99 euros (AUD$160) each. The film takes the viewer on a trip throughout Europe whilst building a storyline that connects all the episodes. Cleverly done, Europe 99euro-films 2, showcases budget, quirky filmmaking at its best.

Kleine Freiheit (A Little Bit Of Freedom) is Turkish-born Y?l Yavuz’s second feature film. Yavuz’s background in sociology shows in this study of Kurdish and African illegal immigrants in Hamburg. It is a poignant portrait of love between two teenage boys, not yet 16, who are alone, cast adrift and struggling to survive. Kleine Freiheit continues the German preoccupation with its guest workers but Yavuz also looks at youth alienation and ethnic divisions, elements more commonly seen in French cinema.

Liegen Lernen (Learning To Lie) is a romantic comedy and the feature debut of Hendrik Handloegten who was partially responsible for the Goodbye, Lenin! screenplay. This is a slickly-made commercial film with lashings of comic energy.

Fassbinder In Hollywood is the only biopic in the festival and is directed by Robert Fischer, one of Germany’s foremost film historians, who has written books and made films about Alfred Hitchcock, Fran?s Truffaut and Milos Forman amongst many others. There have been many documentaries made about the avant-garde and gay Fassbinder but Fischer takes a different slant by inviting the audience to take a tour of today’s Hollywood using long-time Fassbinder associate Ulli Lommel as a host and guide. Of course, Fassbinder died before making it to Hollywood but Fischer’s documentary looks at many of the people who worked with him to examine the ongoing influence of the Fassbinder style, technique and storytelling.

Info The festival runs from 15 to 25 April and the full program may be viewed online at www.goethe.de/ozfilmfest04.
All films are shown with English subtitles. Chauvel Cinema and Valhalla Cinema are each selling tickets for their own screenings. Tickets for both venues can be purchased from MCA ticketing using all major credit cards. Call 9645 1611 between 9am and 4pm weekdays only. Tickets are also available securely online at www.mca-tix.com.

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