The 2019 German Film Festival is currently getting underway around the country. The festival aims to showcase the best new German cinema across all genres with a curated selection of 31 films.
It all kicks off with Balloon (Ballon) by Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig. This film is a stranger-than-fiction story about two families trying to escape from East to West Germany in a homemade hot air balloon. Based on actual events, the film’s showing coincides with for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.
GFF 2019 will feature three special presentations. Its Centrepiece selection is The Captain (Der Hauptmann) by Hollywood director Robert Schwentke (RED). The horrifying true story of deserter Willi Herold provides the basis for the black-and-white anti-war film.
The second special presentation is Bauhaus Spirit: 100 Years of Bauhaus (Vom Bauen der Zukunft – 100 Jahre Bauhaus), celebrating the anniversary of a design legend. The documentary portrays the fascinating history of Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus, one of the 20th Century’s most influential design schools that still shapes our society today.
The festival will also see a special event screening of Mack the Knife – Brecht’s Threepenny Film (Mackie Messer – Brechts Dreigroschenfilm). In true Brechtian style, director Joachim A. Lang and his outstanding cast enthusiastically bring to life true events that followed the huge success of Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera.
This dovetails into the fest’s closing night – a restored version of the controversial 1931 film The Threepenny Opera (Die 3 Groschen-Oper) by G. W. Pabst. The film follows underworld anti-hero Macheath and his rivalry with Jonathan Peachum, the “beggar king” of London.
As noted, this year marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and GFF marks the occasion with three films. Adam & Evelyn is an offbeat love story (based on a popular novel by Ingo Schultz) about a tailor and a waitress set against the backdrop of a disintegrating East Germany. Director Andreas Dresen brings Gundermann, a portrait of beloved East German folk singer and writer Gerhard “Gundi” Gundermann. And Sealed Lips (Und der Zukunft zugewandt) sees Alexandra Maria Lara as an ex-prisoner of a Soviet labour camp forced to remain silent about her experiences in order to retain her freedom.
Of course, Germany has produced some stunning thrillers in recent years so it’s hardly surprising they’re a feature of the festival. They range from the timely – like Blame Game (Das dritte Sterben) in which a terrorism expert sets out to investigate two linked attacks – to the topical; such as Playmaker (Spielmacher) about a former pro-footballer and jailbird who gets sucked into the dangerous world of sports betting and match-fixing.
A few other highlights include the comedy 100 things (100 Dinge), in which childhood friends make an impossible vow to rid themselves of all possessions; Styx by award winner Wolfgang Fischer, which explores the story of a woman who takes a life-changing solo yacht trip; and the box-office smash Cold Feet (Kalte Füße), a romantic comedy in which a petty burglar is forced to live with an ageing stroke patient and his granddaughter.
That’s really just scratching the surface though, so for more information, head over to www.germanfilmfestival.com.au
Presented by Palace in collaboration with German Films, the Festival will screen in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Byron Bay, Canberra, Perth and Adelaide.
Dates and venues:
Sydney: 21 May – 9 June 2019, Palace Norton St and Chauvel Cinema
Canberra: 22 May – 9 June 2019, Palace Electric
Melbourne: 23 May – 09 June 2019, Palace Cinema Como, The Kino Cinemas,
Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, The Astor Theatre
Perth: 28 May – 12 June 2019, Palace Cinema Paradiso, Palace Raine
Adelaide: 29 May – 12 June 2019, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace
Nova Prospect Cinemas
Brisbane: 30 May – 12 June 2019, Palace James St, Palace Barracks
Byron Bay: 29 May – 12 June 2019, Palace Byron Bay
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- German Film Festival 2021 – a preview
- Moro Spanish Film Festival 2019 – movie preview
- British Film Festival 2021
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television