The world's cinema elite come to town in February when the 53rd Berlin International Film Festival gets under way. And it looks like German films will be among those vying for the coveted Golden Bear award.
The other kind of German bear
With just under a month to go, the names of nominees are beginning to filter through for the Critics Prize at the 53rd Berlin International Film Festival which begins on February 6th. The names of 19 films from Europe, Asia, the United States and Africa have been confirmed for the main "Competition" program of the festival with Germany offering strong contenders for the coveted Golden Bear award for Best Film.
The new film from Oscar winning director Steven Soderburgh and the much-anticipated return to form of Martin Scorsese will adorn the festival which will run from the 6th to the 16th but it is expected to be the resurgent Germans who catch the eye of the critics and audiences alike.
German film has once again become truly international with transatlantic hits and widespread European success with such films as "Das Experiment" (The Experiment) and "Halbe Treppe" (Grill Point). This year, a fresh crop of important German films are set to illuminate the Berlin Film Festival in the "Competition" section and the "Panorama" program for art house productions. The home country continues its steady recovery by presenting three world premieres amongst the January nominations for the festival next month.
The first of the world premieres at the festival will be director Wolfgang Becker's latest opus "Good bye, Lenin!" described as "a tragicomic farce about people and systems." The film, entered into the "Competition" section, stars German Film Award-winners Daniel Brühl and Katrin Sass.
The festival will also present the first showing of Oskar Roehler’s love story "Der alte Affe Angst" (Angst), featuring Marie Bäumer, André Hennicke and Vadim Glowna, which follows the sensitive relationship of a couple who are confronted with the problems of death and deceit.
Another exclusive screening will be that of "Lichter" (Distant Lights), the new film from Hans-Christian Schmid which tells five interwoven tales that the director describes as "following a single protagonists’ fears, existential problems, longings and hopes in the area along the German-Polish border." The cast includes August Diehl, Herbert Knaup, Devid Striesow and Maria Simon, among others.
As well as new features, another film that is expected to make an impact at the festival is director Jörg Siepmann's documentary "The Golden Lemons," about a Hamburg rock group's madcap tour across the United States.
The strong German presence in the main festival program will be supported by an entry in the "Panorama" art house selection. Leipzig's Reflex Films will present Igor Zaritzki's "Devot" (Humble) , an intimate drama with a roller-coaster ride of emotional turns starring Annett Renneberg and Simon Böer.
German films in the "Perspektive Deutsches Kino" series will once again offer an attractive program. The series, founded in 2002, strives to present films and filmmakers who are deemed to have what it takes to shape the future of German-language cinema.
This year's series will open on February 7th with "Sie haben Knut" (They've Got Knut), the screen debut of award winning television director Stefan Krohmer and will be followed by Martin Gypkens’ "Wir" (We), a study of personal crisis. Documentaries in the program deal with a young neo-Nazi's struggle for emancipation - "Bernau liegt am Meer" (Bernau Faces the Sea) by Martina Döcker - and Bernd Fischer’s "Grüße aus Dachau" (Greetings from Dachau) - a depiction of a town with a dreadful history as it futilely strives for normality.
New digital technology is put through its paces in two examples from Cologne-based production houses. "Science Fiction" by Franz Müller has two actors improvise inevitable conflicts in magical but frightful tales while Tom Schreiber’s "Narren" (Fool) is a radical digital project from Wim Wenders' Road Movies production company where the hero experiences the whirl of carnival in Cologne from its darkest side.