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Culture

Germany's Top Five

Children's film in Frankfurt, storytelling in Hanover, and chansons in Berlin: Germany's cultural calendar for the coming week is brimming with possibilities for every passion.

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Singer Kitty Hoff will appear at Berlin's chanson festival

Thespians and theatergoers should make their way to largest city on the Rhine. Cologne will be teaming with actors for Germany's largest theater open house, the Theater Night, which kicks off on Friday. Short performances, open rehearsals, readings, music, a chance to meet the actors up close and personal, plus a Theater Night party in the Cologne Opera's foyer -- if it has to do with theater, you'll find it at here. The Cologne Theater Conference, responsible for planning the happening, has organized a program with 140 separate events held in more than 30 different locations, a logistical challenge for the visitor that is made easier by a special bus service. The over 900 actors involved demonstrate the richness of the theater scene in Cologne, and the length of the event, from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., will test the endurance of its fans.

L`Avion

"The Magical Airplane" will be shown at the Lucas Film Festival

The under-12 crowd of cinephiles will find tailor-made entertainment at their own German Cannes: the Lucas International Children's Film Festival. Now in its 28th year in Frankfurt on the Main, the oldest German children's film festival, which began in 1974, is now about three times as old as its target audience. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Lucas, which runs from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, is the chance the festival offers for youth to meet and talk with directors and producers. To demonstrate that they take childrens' opinions seriously, the jury includes an equal number of 9-13-year olds as it does more experienced filmmakers and moderators. This year, 17 films from 17 different European, African and Asian countries will compete for the two, 2,500 euro ($3,010) prizes. The Lucas is organized by the German Film Museum in Frankfurt and sponsored by the City of Frankfurt as well as the Hessian Film Fund and the federal government.

Before the iPod, before the DVD, before the Play Station or X-Box, there was storytelling. Hanover's 8th annual Storytelling Festival, which runs from Friday, Sept. 30, to Monday, Oct. 3, in the Markuskirche church, transforms a long weekend into a magical journey to far-off lands and fairy-tale adventure. Through rhythm, voice, miming and movement, skilled storytellers bring words and tales to life and conjure vivid images and powerful emotions in the hearts and minds of their audience. Sunday morning will begin with a fairy-tale religious service and end with a presentation by author Fredrik Hetman about the belief in fairies and an other-worldly experience in Ireland. On Monday, German Unification Day, the whole family is invited to be dazzled by a telling of "Dona the Frog King" with musical accompaniment, including a children's choir.

Cora Frost

Chanteuse Cora Frost

Listeners won't be disappointed by a lack of diversity when it comes to German interpretations of the French chanson. Much more than a mere performance of Parisian ditties in the German capital, the Berlin Chansonfest offers 22 original acts spread out over the course of a week, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3. The sub-genres represented range from "chamber pop" to "salon hip-hop" and from "Deutschpop" to "singer-songwriter" -- and naturally a few chansons as well for good measure. This bigger-and-better 10th anniversary event features well-known artists from the cabaret scene as well as up-and-coming amateurs -- a good opportunity to catch star performers in the intimate setting offered by the new location, the Ballhaus Mitte, a restored historic venue. The focus this year on German-language lyricism will guarantee grounding in the Spree-metropolis Berlin as opposed to the chanson capital on the Seine.

If you are interested in the latest to come out of the art world, the Dresden Festival for Contemporary Music, which has established itself in its 19 years as one of the leading festivals for contemporary arts in Europe, is the place to be. From Oct. 1-9, both the casual visitor and a specialized audience are invited to experience the cutting edge of music and performance, from symphonies and musicals to experimental dance, from chamber to electronic music, and from jazz to multimedia performance art. The avant-garde music scene gathers in the classical surroundings to exchange views on the many premieres of philosophically-inspired art work that make up the festival. .

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