A drama released in 1989 that saw its premiere cut short because of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A tale of corruption in the sporting arena. A documentary about perhaps the greatest German director that ever lived. A lengthy father-daughter comedy that no one can stop talking about (us included). Yes, they're all part of the 2016 German Film Fest's 36-title lineup, which roams around Australia from November 15 to 30. In a nutshell, it's a great year to get your fix of the country's cinematic offerings.
In fact, there's so much packed into the festival's heaving program that the aforementioned movies haven't even made our must-see list, which is a great indication of the wealth of choices available. So, just what should you ensure you get in front of your eyeballs? Here's our top tips, spanning everything from beloved filmmakers to movies made by ordinary people.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: James Franco really will pop up everywhere he can, even when you least expect it. Like in a German film. This time, he's starring in the latest one from iconic director Wim Wenders, alongside Rachel McAdams and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Every Thing Will Be Fine tells the tale of a writer faced with a life-changing experience; transformation is a common theme in the filmmaker's works. And don't go thinking Wenders' trademark fondness for breathtaking visuals will be sidelined in his first dramatic film in seven years; here, the Buena Vista Social Club, Pina and The Salt of the Earth helmer explores both the heartbreaking tragedy at the centre of the story and the aftermath via 3D visuals.
It takes confidence to call your film Der Nachtmahr, or The Nightmare in English. Other horror movies have boasted about their terrifying dream-like status in their names to mixed results, aka the entire Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Director and visual artist Achim Bornhak aims for a more consistent scare rate in an effort ten years in the making. Given that the feature explores a teenager blighted with visions of a grotesque creature, here's hoping it hits the mark.
Back in 2011, Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland filmmaker Kevin Macdonald took on another ambitious project. Life in a Day endeavoured to capture just what everyday existence is like by crowdsourcing its footage, accruing more than 80,000 clips submitted via YouTube. Five years later, Germany in a Day is the Deutschland-focused equivalent, as overseen by director Sönke Wortmann. If you've ever wondered what life was like for residents of the European nation on June 20, 2015, as captured by ordinary folks, this is your chance to find out.
In Goodbye Berlin, Turkish-German filmmaker Fatih Akin says hello to the road. Adapting Wolfgang Herrndorf's coming-of-age story Tschick (or Why We Took the Car in Australia), it's a feature filled with friendship, discovery, scenic sights and striking revelations after two unlikely pals steal a car one summer. And if it sounds like you've seen this before, Akin's previous filmography should convince you otherwise. Head On twisted the usual mid-life malaise drama, Soul Kitchen did more than cook up delicious-looking food and The Cut found insights in a portrait of resilience and endurance.
Step back in time thanks to 1925 film Varieté. Not only is it a circus fairytale of the kind that isn't often made these days, but it reportedly features the first documentation of unicycle hockey. Other claims to fame come thick and fast for the '20s film, partly due to its enchanting tale of a trapeze artist, the dancer he leaves his wife for, and the artist his lover then has an affair with — and partly due to the fact that the silent feature's score was lost long ago. In its place, The Tiger Lillies have a new soundtrack in their very own style to accompany the new digitised restoration.
The German Film Fest Australia tours the country from November 15, screening at Sydney's Chauvel Cinema and Palace Norton Street from November 15 to 29, Melbourne's Palace Cinema Como, Kino Cinemas and Palace Westgarth from November 17 to 30, and Brisbane's Palace Barracks from November 25 to 30. For more information, visit the festival website.