Non-German audiences love German films about war and communism - but also comedies, Germany's culture minister tells DW. Monika Grütters shares her movie tips and explains why a women's quota in film isn't a good idea.
DW: Which German film has impressed you the most recently?
Monika Grütters: There have been two films: firstly, "Labyrinth of Lies," in which Gert Voss plays Attorney General Fritz Bauer. In the 50s he woke up Germany, which was a young country back then, and then launched the beginning of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials in the early 60s, which was the big starting point for honestly working through our Nazi past. The film impressed me very much, not only because Gert Voss was a convincing Fritz Bauer, but also the young attorney general, the encounters with Auschwitz victims, with Jews who suddenly lived in Germany again and didn't dare speak out. I think that's very important to understanding why we are here today, how we are and how difficult our path has been.
The second film that was really excellent was "Victoria." The film is based on an experiment: It was made without a single cut. It's a road movie in Berlin at night where a couple of young people get involved in a criminal case - and unfortunately things don't turn out so well. They held an open casting, so it wasn't only filmed with professional actors. The film was incredibly successful at the Berlinale. It opens in cinemas in Germany and France in July. And I'm sure that the experiment was worth it.
German history usually goes over well abroad. Which issues is German cinema currently working through which could be interesting for foreign audiences?
Seventy years after the end of World War II, we are still dealing with this part of history. We are also working through the second dictatorship - the communist dictatorship, the division of Germany and the reclaimed unity. That is difficult because there are still very many people around who lived through it and have a hard time relating their experience to current everyday life in reunified Germany.
I think these are important films and they interest many because it's difficult to imagine how people lived during that time in divided Germany - a time when you could look across the border and feel longing, but also resentment.
But my wish is also that we can enjoy our good life today in Germany. We have some really good comedians. That's a new style that is being noticed abroad. Not only "Fack ju Göhte," but also a slightly melancholy comedy like "Honig im Kopf," which is about a dementia patient.
How important is the market in Cannes, even though there's no German film in competition?
Cannes is the most important film festival in the world. Not only are films and rights sold here and distribution boosted, but you can also watch films from other countries. The film market in Berlin has driven the film market in Los Angeles down to third place. That's encouraging. I think that we in Germany are very well poised in the international film scene.
Secondly, there is a young generation of filmmakers that is getting noticed with short films. I like them very much and I think they are worth supporting strongly. They have discovered the international platform for themselves and are not waiting to get funding in Germany and then get sent to Cannes, but come here on their own.
With the "Short Tiger," a prize for short films by newcomers, we show that this group is important. [Eds.: The Short Tiger winners receive prize money from the German Federal Film Board and German Films advisory center. They are shown in the Next Generation Short Tiger 2015 section of the Cannes Film Festival.]
Both the Berlin International Film Festival and nowCannes opened
with a film by a female director. Are we seeing an increasing number of women in the film industry?
Around half of the film students today are female, which means we could have a balanced proportion of female-dominated to male-dominated films - but that's not the case. Relatively speaking, fewer female directors are represented with their good films than male. The question of why is something we are considering. I think a few changes can be made. There are significantly fewer women on some boards and juries. That can be adjusted, of course. But it's also interesting to ask how more female artists can attain what they deserve?
Do we need a quota for female directors?
I think we should be careful when it comes to demanding quotas because quota and quality can always be pitted against each other. And women don't want that either. We just have to develop a bit more sensitivity for equality. That's happening already through the discourse on the issue. And we will quickly make an effort to change the things we can have an impact on, like the constellation of juries and boards.
Hans Christoph von Bock interviewed Monika Grütters at the Cannes Film Festival.