With the German Film Festival opening this week in Adelaide, Glam decided to catch up with Festival Spokesperson and Curator, Bettina Kinski. Just before we spoke, the Melbourne leg of the Festival had to be postponed due to the latest COVID shutdown. But Kinski remains optimistic and is grateful that the Festival can still open in all other cities.
COVID has, of course, also had an effect on production and distribution throughout Europe. Yet Germany’s film industry seems robust even in the face of those problems.
“In 2019 Germany had a turn-over [in film] of more than a billion Euros. That went down to 380 million Euros in 2020. Cinemas were closed from April to June and then again from last November on. Germany now is slowly opening up. We are such a prolific producer of films we don’t need to worry that we won’t have enough content in the next year yet!”
The Berlin Film Festival, one of the most important in the world, has also had to pivot in the face of the pandemic, with the market section taking place online in March, but screenings only happening this month. These screenings were only to select audiences.
“That worked well for our festival [meaning that] we have a few international premieres in our line up. For example our opening night film Next Door, our centrepiece film Fabian: Going to the Dogs, and I’m Your Man from Maria Schrader. These films haven’t had a chance yet to be screened outside of Germany.”
Kinski bubbles with enthusiasm when she talks about this year’s line-up. Asking her to pick a favourite is like asking a parent to pick a favourite child (although we know that secretly, they do have one..!)
“The film that is most important to me is Fabian. It stars some of our best young talent. Dominik Graf created some sort of homage to film history itself: to cinema. He’s included lots of archival material so we see Berlin in the 20s and 30s . Its based on a novel by Erich Kästner who is very important to German culture. He is more known for his children’s books such as Emil and the Detectives. I just really love this film!”
“I’m also super-excited about our opening night film Next Door. It’s Daniel Brühl’s directorial debut. He is one of our most popular and internationally known German actors. It’s a black comedy, basically a two-hander starring Brühl himself and Peter Kurth.”
“For me a hidden gem is definitely The Bra. It has sound but no dialogue. After a few minutes you realise that it doesn’t need dialogue because it has such strong images. You have this beautiful Azerbaijani countryside. It’s a bit of a Cinderella story about a train conductor who always rides the train though this densely populated area of Baku. The train often hits laundry hanging on lines near the train, and he always brings back whatever the train hits. On his last day of work it snags a bra, so he decides to find the owner. It sounds strange, but I really encourage people to watch this film because it’s a very beautiful sweet story about loss.”
“Another film which might capture some interest particularly here in Australia is The Kangaroo Chronicles. A communist kangaroo suddenly turns up in front of a poor musician’s apartment and they team up to fight a right-wing politician and gentrification. We have empathy through the kangaroo who gets to say all the things that his human companion doesn’t.”
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is Berlin Alexanderplatz. The last filmic version of the novel was Fassbinder’s 1980 television series. It was this that got Kinski thinking about Fassbinder, who is the focus of this year’s retrospective. 2021 is the 40th anniversary of Lola, which will be screened alongside Enfant Terrible, a bio-pic of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
Kinski is also keen to point out this years Kino for Kids, featuring half a dozen wonderful films for children and young people, and the special Austrian Cinema sidebar including Backstage Vienna State Opera, sure to be a hit.
The German Film Festival is currently showing at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect.
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Click here for Adelaide screening times.