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Film

Opinion: Even without Palme d'Or, Cannes 2016 was a big event for German cinema

Surprisingly selecting Ken Loach for the Palme d'Or, the jury didn't go along with the critics, who saw German director Maren Ade as a top contender. That was to be expected at a film festival, says DW's Jochen Kürten.

She had been the critics' clear favorite in different international reviews. Maren Ade and her film "Toni Erdmann" lit up a storm of enthusiasm at the prestigious film festival this year. A German in Cannes! Competing with a comedy!

Critics were more than impressed: "A biting little miracle," wrote "The Guardian." "The best 162-minute German comedy you'll ever see," raved "The Hollywood Reporter," adding that it is "as moving as it is implausibly funny." Spanish and French critics were also unanimously enthralled by this brilliant comedy with its serious undertones, which was directed by a young female filmmaker.

The film was also received with a several-minute-long standing ovation at its premiere. Right until the end of the festival, no other film surpassed its high rating in the prestigious British film magazine "Screen International."

Everything sounded quite promising for Maren Ade's "Toni Erdmann." Shortly before the official awards ceremony, she even received the International Film Critics' Prize.

Differing expectations

Jochen Kürten Foto:dw

DW-reporter Jochen Kürten

However, despite such high expectations the film did not receive a Palme d'Or - neither the golden one, nor any other. The jury's choice might come as a disappointment, yet it only confirmed an old festival rule: The critics' preferences do not always have much in common with the jury's. There have been numerous instances of this trend in the past, in Cannes, Venice, Berlin, and at other major international film festivals.

A festival jury is usually made up of directors and actors. These people are professionals in the field, yet they often have a different perspective on films as the critics.

That's why Maren Ade does not need to be too disappointed. Her movie assures her to have a promising career ahead. Her invitation to Cannes can be considered an initial great success. The second noteworthy achievement was its incredible critical reception, which resulted in strong international sales - a third great accomplishment in its own right.

Finally, the filmmaker's greatest success is probably the fact that she managed to renew the image of German cinema. Maren Ade will draw the attention of moviegoers worldwide to German filmmaking again - not only to her own movie, which is due to be shown at theaters around the world soon, but also to the works of other directors as well. This might heighten the interest of Cannes' selection committee for German films, with hopefully more of them landing in the competition in the future.

A lesson from Woody Allen

There might be some consolation for Maren Ade in the words of Woody Allen. Allen declared at the beginning of the festival this year that he didn't believe in competition in art. His new film "Café Society" opened the festival - but was deliberately not included in the competition.

Allen has avoided competitions for years - it's something that should be reserved for sports, the filmmaker said. The greatest reward remains the critical acclaim for her film - which moviegoers worldwide will hopefully continue to agree with.

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