Interview: Bettina Kinski's Picks for the 2019 German Film Festival
Palace Cinemas are once again putting on a feast for foreign film fanatics. This time with a German flavour. Showing right now and until the 12th of June are a handpicked selection of German films. So whether you’re new to German film or something of a cinema wunderkind, we sat down with festival director Bettina Kinski, so she could walk you through what you should get out and see over the next couple weeks.
The festival opens with Balloon. Why was that film chosen as flagship movie for this year?
The film BALLOON was picked as opening night film for a good reason - Germany has a great anniversary to celebrate this year. It is the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th November.
The film recreates a gripping historical event based on the true story of two ordinary families living 1979 in East Germany at the height of the Cold War. They could no longer bear the oppressive regime in the GDR and therefore decided to undertake an extraordinary escape attempt in a hand-made hot air balloon. This thriller directed by Michael “Bully” Herbig keeps you on the edge of your seat from the beginning until the end.
As you said, this festival marks the 30th anniversary since the fall of the Berlin Wall. How else are this year’s picks reflecting that?
We included a special programme strand called TEAR DOWN THE WALLS that is co-presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canberra. This programme strand showcases feature films that present new perspectives on the GDR (German Democratic Republic). It’s a beautiful opportunity to learn about German history and to understand what this nation has gone through.
Any personal favourites from the list?
My top five picks for the festival are:
The Captain – Hollywood meets arthouse!
Gundermann – Big winner of the German Film Awards 2019 this biopic is a must-see!
Styx – Watching Susanne Wolff, winner of Best Actress at the German Film Awards 2019, is simply absorbing.
25km/h – Lars Eidinger and Bjarne Mädel will have you roll in the aisles with laughter.
The Innocent – A think piece that leaves you pondering long after the curtain goes down.
Were they any films you wish could have made the list that you couldn’t put on?
This year went well for us. we’ve got great films for our festival resulting in a very strong programme. There were a few titles we couldn’t get but I am confident that chances are high to get them for the 2020 edition!
Any particular films showing this year that you recommend for someone new to German film?
A good start for someone new to German cinema are the two comedies 25KM/H and HOW ABOUT ADOLF? I think a great way to learn about a culture and a country is to understand their humour.
Even from film’s earliest roots, German filmmakers had a history of experimentation and innovation. Do you see contemporary German filmmakers following this trend?
Yes, absolutely. A great example is the festival title MACK THE KNIFE – BRECHT’S THREEPENNYFILM- it relates to our closing night film from 1931, THE THREEPENNYOPERA by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, one of the last great works of the Expressionism period and it displays the background story of how Bertolt Brecht tried to adapt his sensational theatre play into a film according to his liking- but failed and sued the production company. The film plays with different media such as theatre and film, and attempts to skew the viewer’s perception of reality for example when actor Lars Eidinger who plays Bertolt Brecht is starring right into the camera and is addressing the audience directly. This film aims to deliver the original and controversial messages that Brecht intended to create in the original version of the film.
Another festival title, EASY LOVE, is also underpinning this statement- this film opened the Berlinale section “Perspektive Deutsches Kino”, a sidebar for upcoming German filmmakers. EASY LOVE is a hybrid: as docu-fiction and experimental film it tells the story of young adults on their search for a balance between emotional security and sensual fulfillment.
How else do you think German film distinguishes itself internationally?
I think generally films are always reflecting the society they were made in. Also, films can beautifully display the history like no other media. So, through Germany’s culture, history and its traditions it is in a way inherent that the German cinema distinguishes itself from the cinema of other countries.