Beginning Friday, October 5, seven German films released in the last two years will be screened at the Whitsell Auditorium in the Portland Art Museum. All films are predominantly in German with English subtitles except “Baikonur” which is mostly in Russian.
Friday, Oct. 5 at 7:30pm, the series opens with “Barbara,” a film set in East Germany prior to the fall of the Wall. Barbara is a physician who tried to flee East Germany but was stopped by the secret police. She then is banished to work at a small country hospital, where she is in an almost constant state of alert. The secret police still visit her there randomly, searching her room, looking for signs of disloyalty or evidence of escape plans. Barbara doesn’t want to trust any of her co-workers, either, since they could be agents of the police. Much of the emotion is conveyed simply by facial expressions since words could lead to more trouble. Directed by Christian Petzold, this 2012 film about fear, freedom, and dignity has already received seven German Film Award nominations and won the Best Director Award at the recent Berlin Film Festival. The trailer hints at the tone of the film.
Saturday, Oct. 6 at 3:00pm, “Tom Sawyer” screens. Recommended for children 10 and up, this film is about that Tom and that Huck. The trailer (sorry, not subtitled but the film will be at the screening) shows a loving interpretation of this classic American tale. The film is funny and sweet, and absorbs the viewer into the adventure of these two characters as they explore the world around them. Released in 2011, “Tom Sawyer” has been nominated for a German Film Award for Best Children’s film. It is directed by Hermine Huntgeburth. It screens again on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 4:30pm.
Saturday, Oct. 6 at 6pm, the film “Summer Window,” directed by Hendrik Handloegten, screens. Beautifully shot (as seen in the trailer) with the artful use of blues and muted warm tones, the film explores choices made when one has a chance to live part of life over. Would they be the same, or would a different path be chosen? Juliane struggles with this question as she is reliving part of her past life again. This thought-provoking film has been nominated for four awards in Germany, including the Best Cinematography, Best Film Score and Best Performance by an Actress (Fritzi Haberlandt) in the German Film Awards.
Saturday evening, Oct. 6 at 9pm features “Lessons of a Dream,” set in a 19th century German boarding school. An English man is hired to teach English to the students. He decides to also introduce them to football (soccer). There are shades of “Dead Poets Society” as a well-rounded bright young teacher is looked upon darkly by the older more conservative members of the faculty. The promise and optimism of youth are proudly displayed in this heartfelt story and one pretty much knows how it will end. Directed by Sebastian Grobler, the film has Won the New Faces Award (for actor Theo Trebs) and has been nominated for six awards, including the Film Award in Gold of the German Film Awards for Best Feature Film and the Grand Prix de Amériques of the Montréal World Film Festival. The trailer suggests the humor and idealism of the film.
Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7 pm “Baikonur” (Russian, English, French) is showing, a romantic comedy about a young man from Kazakh who is enthralled with space expeditions. The trailer shows the obsession actions of “Gagarin” as he follows many launches and then rushes into the steppes to find space debris. When the capsule in which the wealthy Julie Mahe lands (she being one of the wealthy space tourists), he retrieves the capsule, rescues her, and of course falls in love after she awakens when he kisses her. Directed by Veit Helmer, the film includes footage from NASA blended in with the scenes shot in the Kazakh steppes.
At 7 pm on Monday, Oct. 8, “Three Quarter Moon” (in Germany and Turkish) plays. It is a charming tale about a grouchy cab driver and a young Turksh girl left in his cab after her mother seemingly has disappeared. There are many films with curmudgeonly adults who transform to more caring people by a relationship with a open-hearted younger person (think “Gran Torino” or “True Grit”), but this film offers a new perspective in light Germany’s changing demographics. This 2011 film is directed and written by Christian Zübert. It has already won the Best Screenplay Award at the Bavarian Film Awards and has been nominated for the Film Award in Gold for Outstanding Feature Film at the German Film Awards and the Audience Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The trailer (not subtitled in English) gives the sense of the film and the dynamics between the characters.
This series closes on Tuesday, Oct 9 at 7pm with “Combat Girls,” a film intended for mature audiences. The trailer hints at the violence shown on screen. A young bright girl comes from a troubled home. She is attracted to Neo-Nazis her age, and ultimately is accepted into the group. With them, she fights and harasses those whom the Nazis hate, until gradually she steps back and reflects on their behavior, and hers. Directed by David F. Wnendt, this film is an eye-opener on the forces that draw people to – and away from – these kinds of hate groups.
Tickets are $9 for general audience members with reduced prices for students, seniors, PAM members, and Friends of the Film Center. All films will screen at the Whitsell Auditorium in the Portland Art Museum (map above left). For further information go to the Northwest Film Center’s website.
This series is presented by Zeitgeist NW and other sponsors are The Goethe Institute, The Berlin and Beyond Film Festival of San Francisco, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Sources: IMDb, Northwest Film Center, trailers