Festival gives fans taste of modern German history

By Xu Fan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-11-19 07:56:36

Festival gives fans taste of modern German history

The movie We Are Young, We Are Strong is among the 14 titles screened at the Festival of German Cinema in China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

When you speak of Germany, most Chinese probably think of beer and soccer, but an ongoing film festival, now in its third edition, is trying to change that.

The Festival of German Cinema in China, an annual event organized by the Goethe Institute and German Films, a Munich-based association which promotes local titles worldwide, kicked off on Friday and will run through Nov 30.

A selection of 14 movies, featuring historical and modern Germany, are being screened in four major mainland cities-Beijing, Chengdu in Sichuan province, Qingdao in Shandong province and Shenzhen in Guangdong province.

For Chinese art-house enthusiasts, one of the main attractions is German actor and director Sebastian Schipper's Victoria, the Silver Bear-winning crime drama at this year's Berlin International Film Festival.

The tale chronicles the adventures of Victoria, a young woman from Madrid who gets involved with four Berlin gangsters.

The 140-minute movie was shot in real time with a single, unedited take.

Victoria, which received six prizes at German Film Awards, the country's equivalent of the Oscars, has also made an impression at film festivals in Istanbul, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Jerusalem.

"The storytelling is quite breathtaking. No breaks and no artificial cuts ... (the cameras) take you to the scenes to see what the actors are dealing with," says Peter Anders, the director of the Goethe Institute China.

Eike Frederik Schulz, the screenwriter of Victoria, says the film wanted to make audiences feel like they are "participating in the program".

The movies also include films focusing on confusions and problems in modern German society.

Who Am INo System Is Safe reminds the public about online security through a fictional tale of the hacker group Clay.

Describing the film as a distinctive take on the world that hackers inhabit, actor Antoine Monot Jr says the tale conveys the worries about Internet security, which is now a global problem.

In Germany, Internet use is a widespread phenomenon now that everyone is using smartphones in restaurants, cafes and subway trains, he says.

"The movie wants to remind them to put away their mobile devices and return to real communication."

He tells China Daily that the film has already been sold to Chinese distributors, which means it could be screened here in the coming months.

As this year marks the major anniversaries of two historical events-the end of World War II, 70 years ago and the German reunification, 25 years ago, several films re-examine the wounds of conflicts.

13 Minutes-This Man Could Have Changed History portrays a small-town musician's attempt to kill German dictator Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. The film is based on the failed attack in the Burgerbraukeller on Nov 8, 1939.

Another World War II-themed film is the 98-minute romance drama, Phoenix, which centers on an Auschwitz survivor-who suffered a serious injury to her face-reuniting with her husband after she was released from the concentration camp in June 1945.

The cinematic reflection of the social tensions after the 1990 of East Germany and West Germany reunification is another major theme of the films.

We Are Young, We Are Strong is based on the 1992 conflict in the eastern German city of Rostock. It recounts a tragic incident-a residential building in Rostock housing more than 3,000 refugees was set on fire-from the perspective of three characters from varied backgrounds.

To Michael Clauss, the German ambassador to China, there is a link between 1945 and 1990.

"The generous offer or reconciliation by our former enemies and victims, as well as Germany's acceptance of historical truth and the rebuilding of trust made Germany's reunification possible," says Clauss in his message to the event's participants.

Other films worth watching are the journalism-themed The Lies of the Victors, Age of Cannibals, which depicts the greed of humanity, the Oscar-nominated, Labyrinth of Lies and the road adventure flick, Tour de Force.


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