Sunday, 4 May 2008

German Film Festival - Sydney

The last couple of weeks AH & I attended a few screenings at the German Film Festival here in Sydney. It's hard to decide what to see and timing with film festivals is always tricky - 6PM on a week night?? I'm usually waiting for the bus that never comes and feel so grotty from the day job that... ahh well, not there ATM. Now, what is it about The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite) - the critics in Australia went on and on - one could have been mistaken that it was the only bloody film showing in the festival... Now it wins a German Film Award plus a cross cultural award because it's a bit Turkish as well. Maybe I'm a bit over the standard blokey film and this one had lesbians in it. Of course the lesbian story was tragic... The only deaths were women and the Father-Son bit had no mother. Some bits were a bit contrived - oh look, a sad coincidence that the mother wanting to see her daughter and the daughter looking for her mother pass each other without knowing.... Oh blah blah - I know I am in the minority here and it is a good film, I just don't think it's utterly wonderful as everyone says. Nursel Köse is excellent in her short lived role as the threatened and ultimately murdered prostitute (no giveaway there, her death is announced). Everyone is a bit done over in one way or another and were basically boring to me.

Not reviewed and hard to present in a simple synopsis was The Calling Game (Die Anruferin) – originally a stage play, it was intriguing, suspenseful in a really odd way and riveting from beginning to end. I wonder that the blokes played a minor role. The film’s focus is 4 women – an invalid, non-speaking mother, her daughter and a librarian who becomes a friend. The 4th is a dead daughter but central to the whole story. It is truly a film of triumph, caring and acceptance. I walked out of the cinema feeling completely fulfilled: intellectually & emotionally.
The second weekend we sat through the epic Border of Despair (Die Frau vom Checkpoint Charlie) – a fabulous true story obviously made for TV – maybe a bit scatty in spots but a good melodramatic rendition of a strong story with a happy ending.
Then one of the must see: Shattered Glass (Scherbentanz) – directed by Chris Kraus who made Vier Minuten (Four Minutes: a magnificent & intelligent film that none last 4 films I saw this year have bettered). The acting was excellent and, even though not as strong as 4mins, for a writer, director Chris Kraus gets the most out of everyone on screen – especially the women: Margit Carstensen is brilliant and sometimes astounding as the insane mother. I am really looking forward to whatever Kraus comes up with next and I hope that as with his first 2 films, the women’s roles will be as good as in these 2 films.
I don’t know SBS’s criteria for buying films to screen is but I wish they would stop with the virgin films and silly comedies and screen some of these excellent dramas coming out of Germany in the last couple of years. Vier Minuten, I will watch again – probably buy- but The Edge of Heaven on the other hand... (ha ha bad pun), I don’t think I will sit through again.
I am looking forward to next year’s German Film Festival – I’m sure we will all be seeing Der Baader Meinhof Komplex!
A note to fellow movie goers – don’t feel you HAVE to eat the equivalent of a 3 course meal consisting of rattling popcorn in the box the size of 5 litre bucket followed by anything you can find in child-locked cellophane... You know you can go without eating for more than 2 hours... go on, try!

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