Double role of German films

By Xu Fan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-11-27 07:51:47

Her comments are echoed by Peter Anders, director of Goethe-Institut China.

Anders says "serious" and "entertaining" aren't mutually exclusive terms.

"Even things that inspire deep pondering can also be entertaining. Entertaining doesn't mean shallow, and thinking can be happy and entertaining," he says.

Suck Me Shakespeer, a school-years comedy, is among the films being shown at the festival.

The Bora Dagtekin-directed production that features an ex-con's life at a school and his secretive attempts to search for his robbed money, topped the German box office by drawing more than 7 million viewers in 2013-14. It was the most commercially successful German movie last year, the festival's organizers say.

Zhang Yifan, vice-chairman of the Film Association of Zhejiang Province, says the festival's theme "seriously entertaining" represents the characteristics of German movies.

"It admits the movies can entertain the public and should also educate them," he says, "Most Chinese cinema screens are bombarded by Hollywood popcorn blockbusters. It's a rare chance for Chinese moviegoers to watch these in-depth productions."

Do German moviemakers worry about competition from Hollywood? Here's what the interviewees say:

"Normally, it is a cultural phenomenon for mass taste. German films only get an average budget of 4 million euros ($4.97 million), while most Hollywood big-budget movies can get an investment as high as $70 million," Dorrie says on why Hollywood action blockbusters become global favorites.

German moviemakers feel the heat from Hollywood's giant studio productions not just owing to comparatively lower local moviemaking budgets, but also due to the relatively limited appeal of the German language to global audiences, who are used to watching movies in English even with subtitles.

"We care more about telling stories of everyday lives. Some of them are quite good," she says, adding that some German movies are similar to independent Chinese features, such as Eleven Flowers (directed by Wang Xiaoshuai), but haven't been watched by many Chinese.

Florian Stetter, an actor in the festival's opening film Stations of the Cross, says art-house productions such as the one in which he stars, while exploring facets of humanity, also make significant contributions to the development of German cinema.

"We need such stories. They tell about people's lives," he says, adding that the German government has policies that promote art-house works, such as reducing taxes.


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