The German Film Festival brings the best new films from Germany showcasing festival favourites, works of auteurs and the best new talent. This year’s program, presented in association with German Films, kicks off from 25 May at Palace Cinemas across the nation.
Opening night is Next Door, the darkly comic directorial debut by Daniel Brühl (Good Bye Lenin!, The Falcon & The Winter Soldier). In this two-hander, Brühl plays a version of himself to skewer celebrity, privilege and the movies. Brühl’s character is Daniel a famous actor who lives in a stylish penthouse apartment in Berlin’s hip Prenzlauer Berg. One morning, as he prepares to jet off to London to screen-test for a ‘top-secret’ new American superhero blockbuster, he pops into a dive bar to kill time. There, he meets middle-aged Bruno (a deliciously sardonic Peter Kurth), initially dismissing him as a fan. But Bruno is in fact Daniel’s neighbour, and has been awaiting this moment. As the two banter, Bruno begins nitpicking the increasingly exasperated (and now late for his flight) Daniel’s career, gradually revealing a far more intimate knowledge of Daniel’s life than is comfortable.
The Centrepiece of the Festival program is Fabian: Going to the Dogs (Fabian oder Der Gang vor die Hunde). Straight from its world premiere at the 2021 Berlinale, Dominik Graf’s adaptation of Erich Kästner’s iconic 1930s Berlin set novel, sees a dashing idealist played by Tom Schilling find love amidst the twilight hedonism of pre-Nazi Germany.
Elsewhere in the program, Electric Girl is a high-energy blend of animation and psychological study, in which a slam poet begins to embody the Japanese anime superheroine that she voices. How I Taught Myself to be a Child (Wie ich lernte, bei mir selbst Kind zu sein) is set in conservative 1950s Vienna. The youngest son of an established Austrian dynasty of confectionery millionaires discovers the power of love, humour and his own extraordinary ability to shape his realities. Closing night film Berlin Alexanderplatz updates Alfred Döblin’s classic novel (notably made into a TV series by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1980). Burhan Qurbani’s film sees the central character Franz as an undocumented migrant from West Africa, rather that the newly-released prisoner of the original.
In Nightlife, one man’s romantic encounter with the woman of his dreams turns into a crazy chase through the Berlin night in this wild comedy starring Elyas M’Barek and Palina Rojinski. The festival goes sci-fi with The Space Between the Lines (Gut gegen Nordwind). Based on a bestselling novel, this epistolary cyber romance is a thoughtful look at the nature of human relationships, starring Nora Tschirner and Alexander Fehling.
An Australian connection of sorts appears in Dani Levi’s The Kangaroo Chronicles. When a talking, communist kangaroo rings his doorbell asking for eggs to make pancakes, a struggling musician has no clue that his life is about to turn upside down. This hilarious adaptation of Marc-Uwe Kling’s best-selling book The Kangaroo Chronicles features the author voicing the cheeky animated kangaroo.
The documentary Berlin Bouncer tells the story of Berlin – from a divided city to the party metropolis of today – through the eyes of its most legendary doormen. And The Audition (Das Vorspiel) is a meticulously arranged visual concerto from acclaimed German actor/director Ina Weisse. The gripping drama stars Nina Hoss as a woman trapped in the pursuit of success.
The Goethe-Institut will again contribute the popular sidebar “Kino for Kids”, a program especially dedicated to children and teens.
The German Film Festival takes place nationally from 25 May – 20 June in:
Sydney: 25 May – 13 June, Palace Norton, Chauvel Cinemas, Palace Central
Canberra: 26 May – 13 June, Palace Electric
Melbourne: 27 May – 13 June, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, The Kino and Pentridge Cinema Brisbane: 1 – 20 June, Palace James St, Palace Barracks
Adelaide: 2 – 20 June, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas
Perth: 3 – 20 June, Luna Leederville, Luna on SX & Palace Raine Square
Byron Bay: 4 – 20 June, Palace Byron Bay
For more information, please visit the Festival website.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- German Film Festival 2019 – preview
- Italian Film Festival 2020 – movie feature
- British Film Festival 2020 – movie feature
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television