German Film Festival

In 2024, Melbourne's annual celebration of German films is serving up brand-new gems and a Werner Herzog retrospective.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 10, 2024


Whether he's behind or in front of the camera, making his own version of Nosferatu or documentaries about volcanologists,  popping up in Parks and Recreation or playing a villain in a Jack Reacher movie, there's no one in the film industry like Werner Herzog. His voice is famous, including get a use in family-friendly animation not once but twice. His work as a director is thoroughly inimitable. He's one of Germany's cinema greats — and Australia's 2024 German Film Festival is recognising him as such.

This year's touring event, which has a date with Melbourne's Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, The Kino, The Astor Theatre, Pentridge Cinema and Palace Penny Lane from Friday, May 10 – Wednesday, May 29, boasts a Werner Herzog retrospective on its lineup. A documentary about him is on the bill, so get excited to see Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer on the big screen. Also set to flicker through the projectors: Aguirre, The Wrath of God, about searching for El Dorado; Fitzcarraldo, which focuses on trying to move a steamship over a Peruvian mountain; and Nosferatu the Vampyre, featuring Klaus Kinski, as with the aforementioned two titles, but this time as Dracula. Plus, there's Heart of Glass, which gets experimental in a Bavarian village — and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024.

Clearly, the German Film Festival has the past on its mind with its latest program. That also comes through in a second way, by marking 70 years of German Films, the organisation tasked with promoting the country's movies beyond Germany. As part of that retrospective, the Oscar-nominated Jacob the Liar, Oscar-winning documentary Serengeti Shall Not Die, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's iconic The Marriage of Maria Braun and unforgettable recent standout Toni Erdmann will all play the fest. So will Trace of Stones and Yesterday Girl, both from 1966 — the first from East Germany, the second from West Germany.

Looking backwards isn't the only thing on the agenda, however. As it usually does, the event will bring some of the best German and Austrian movies that premiered at this year's Berlin International Film Festival to Australia. 2024's fest spans six such titles, starting with opening night's World War II-set From Hilde, With Love, which follows a young woman in the anti-Nazi resistance movement. From there, centrepiece choice Foreign Language features the always-exceptional Nina Hoss (Tár) in a tale about a friendship playing out through letters, while closing night's Treasure stars Lena Dunham (Sharp Stick) and Stephen Fry (The Morning Show).

Elsewhere, highlights come via One for the Road, complete with a dive into Berlin's nightlife, then a switch to attempting to get sober; the Leipzig-set Dark Satellites, which tells of three love stories; Lubo, the latest must-see starring Franz Rogowski (Passages); Blind at Heart, which takes the leap from the page to the screen; and Not a Word, joining the ranks of recent films — such as Tár — to feature a conductor as a key character.

And, as always, the Kino for Kids section returns with movies for younger viewers, making heading to the fest a family affair. A comedy about teen sisters who love skateboarding, an adaptation of the novel The Flying Classroom and Lassie — A New Adventure are all on that part of the bill.


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