The German Film Festival is back for 2023 with a fresh selection of the best German-language films. Once again Palace Cinemas in collaboration with German Films, will host the event around the country. This year’s festival features key selections direct from the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival (The Berlinale), a music-themed retrospective, a focus on female filmmakers and the family sidebar Kino for Kids.
Things kick off in style with the Opening night film, A Thousand Lines (Tausend Zeilen), the new film from director Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig (Balloon). Based on true events, the film is based on the 2018 fake news scandal involving disgraced Der Spiegel journalist Lars Bogenius. Festival favourites Elyas M’Barek and Jonas Nay deliver star performances as journalists on opposite sides of the story.
Direct from its Berlinale world premiere, is The Teachers’ Lounge (Das Lehrerzimmer) provides the Festival Centrepiece. Starring rising talent Leonie Benesch (Babylon Berlin), the tense drama centres on a dedicated, idealistic teacher who is pushed to the brink when she investigates a series of thefts at her new school.
And closing the event is the female-led drama Over & Out, a unique take on a female friendship story. Directed by Julia Becker, it focuses on four lifelong friends who vowed to celebrate their weddings together 26 years ago but when one of them invites the others to Italy, a chaotic road trip ensues.
That leads neatly into the sidebar Frauen Am Werk: Focus on Female Directors, the talents of Germany and Switzerland’s women in film are showcased in eleven incredible films from dramas, to documentaries and comedies. The two Special Presentations previously announced, Sisi & I (Sisi & Ich) the wild reinterpretation of the “Sisi” myth starring Sandra Hüller and stylish biopic Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey into the Desert (Ingeborg Bachmann – Reise in die Wüste), both have women at the helm with the latter directed by the legendary Margarethe von Trotta.
Music is the focus of this year’s festival Retrospective – Music, Art and Chaos: A Sonic Transmission from Berlin. A filmic journey into the West Berlin New Wave music scene, it showcases the pioneers of the period and the cultural influences that reverberated through a generation. The Retrospective section includes B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin 1979-1989 is a blistering documentary that fuses unreleased film footage and original interviews to reveal the story of life in the divided city; cult classic Christiane F. remastered in 4K; Decoder, infused with disenfranchised youth culture of the early 80s, and Liebeslieder: Einsturzende Neubaten captures rare footage, interviews with band members and concert performances of the renowned industrial band from 1980 to 1993.
The collection of Berlin focused films is rounded-out by the multi award-winning Wings of Desire from Wim Wenders. Two angels glide through the streets of Berlin, providing invisible rays of hope to the distressed but never interacting with them. When one falls in love, he longs to experience life in the physical world.
Other features included in the new German Cinema stream include the Silver Bear winner for Best Supporting Performance by transgender actor Thea Ehre in Till the End of the Night (Bis ans Ende der Nacht). A smart, subtle blend of genre and auteur cinema, undercover cop Robert is supposed to gain the trust of a drug dealer by faking a relationship. What You Can See From Here (Was man von hier aus sehen kann) is a whimsical drama set in a small village of eccentric characters who have their lives upended when a premonition occurs. It stars Corinna Harfouch and Karl Markovics. The Peacock (Der Pfau) adapts Isabel Bogdan’s bestselling novel in this variation of the classic crime comedy set on a Scottish country estate and features an all-star ensemble featuring Tom Schilling, David Kross and Jürgen Vogel. Sci-fi body swap drama Skin Deep (Aus meiner Haut) is a sophisticated exploration of relationships and gender identity; and Axiom a chilling character study which follows a museum attendant who invites his colleagues on a sailing trip aboard his aristocratic family’s boat where cracks soon appear.
The German Film Festival takes place nationally from 2 – 24 May in:
Sydney: 2 May – 24 May, Palace Norton St, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Central
Canberra: 3 May – 24 May, Palace Electric
Brisbane: 3 May – 24 May, Palace James St, Palace Barracks
Adelaide: 3 May – 24 May, Palace Nova Eastend Cinemas, Palace Nova Prospect Cinemas
Melbourne: 4 May – 24 May, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, The Kino,
Pentridge Cinema, Palace Westgarth and The Astor Theatre (selected sessions)
Perth: 4 May – 24 May, Luna Leederville, Luna on SX & Palace Raine Square
Byron Bay: 4 May – 24 May, Palace Byron Bay
For more information, please visit the Festival website.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Win tickets to the 2023 German Film Festival
- German Film Festival 2021 – a preview
- German Film Festival 2019 – preview
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television