The German Film Festival is back with a vengeance at Palace Cinemas
The name ‘Kinski’ is a prestigious one in the world of film. One of the most famous German actors of all time was Klaus Kinski (1926-1991), whose stature in Europe and Hollywood was only eclipsed by his reputation for confronting and disruptive behaviour on and off set. His daughter Nastassja Kinski (Paris, Texas, Cat People) also enjoyed a period of international film stardom.
The new curator of the German Film Festival, Bettina Kinski, is perfectly aware of the aptness of her name. “I’m not related to Klaus Kinski and I’m not sure I would like to be!” she laughs. “But it’s a fantastic name to have in this industry because people remember it.”
Bettina was born in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, northeastern Germany, and lived in Hamburg before arriving in Australia two years ago. With a background in film production and film festivals, she was well placed to assume direction of the German Film Festival when the Palace Cinema group took over running the festival from the Goethe-Institut. A volunteer-run festival took place in 2017, but the official event returns this year with great finds from major film festivals including the 2018 Berlinale.
Twenty-six features and a short film session will screen at Palace Norton Street and Chauvel Cinemas from May 24. Bettina talked Time Out through seven of the highlights.
Opening night: The Silent Revolution
In 1956, East German school students hold a two-minute silence during class in solidarity with the victims of the Hungarian struggle against Soviet oppression, with serious consequences. “It’s an inspiring drama based on true events. It’s a moving chapter in German postwar history and we’re quite happy to have this film as our opening night film.”
In Times of Fading Light
An East German family attempts to celebrate the 90th birthday of their Communist patriarch (Bruno Ganz, Downfall) on the eve of the Berlin Wall’s collapse. “It’s a bittersweet tragicomedy and my personal favourite. I was born in the East of Germany before the wall came down, and the set design and the way the people talk and treat each other reminded me of my early childhood.”
Fack Ju Göhte Trilogy
A criminal who can barely spell is forced to become a substitute teacher in order to get access to his buried loot, in this smash-hit comedy franchise. “It references Göthe, the most significant German poet, and it’s misspelled, which is the point. It’s a silly comedy, and popular because it has a handsome star (Elyas M‘Barek), but it also points out problems German schools face, such as integration and migration, and the fact a lot of schools are in a desolate condition.”
The film tells the story of Maria Theresia von Paradis, a gifted piano player in Rococo Vienna, who lost her eyesight as a child. “Germany has great dramas and this beautiful Austrian-German co-production is based on a true story. Paradis was a friend of Mozart. She meets the controversial scientist Dr Mesmer, who tries to restore her eyesight, but the more she regains her eyesight the more she loses her musical genius. The music will give you goosebumps.”
When Paul Came over the Sea
This documentary takes a personal look at the refugee crisis in Europe. “Filmmaker Jacob Preuss meets the migrant Paul, who’s from Cameroon and trying to get to Germany. Preuss is torn because he feels like they are becoming friends and he’s not sure how to stay distant. It gives perspective on this whole refugee topic. Definitely a highlight.”
Short Export 2018
Six outstanding German short films have been selected for the program, including fiction, documentary and animated films. “It’s a program that always premieres at the Claremont-Ferrand festival in France, and we are lucky that we got this program for Australia.”
Closing night: Wings of Desire
Wim Wenders’ 1987 masterpiece follows angels as they watch over the denizens of Berlin, reading their minds and contemplating the history of the city. Bruno Ganz stars as an angel who longs to be human, and Nick Cave and Peter Falk appear as themselves. “It’s such a visionary classic, and Wenders is among Fassbender and Herzog as one of the most influential German filmmakers. We are super happy we got this restored version to screen.”