Scotland's annual festival of German films goes into its second year
As our world reconfigures itself around the fact that the US President-elect seems to have no clue what he's doing and would prefer to hire a gang of fascist loons to wreck America while he goes back to bed in his gold-plated shoebox, we may as well greet the new leaders of the free world in their own language. Hallo, Deutschland, wie geht's euch?
Think about it. Germany may not be the cuddliest of nations, but they've got a largest economy in Europe, they're a leader in science and technology, they have a rich cultural heritage and they're one of the few European countries that doesn't have a thriving far-right party (because, you know, been there.) And they also make great films.
Fokus: Films from Germany is the Scotland-wide festival of German film, now in its second year, and its programme for Nov 2016–Jan 2017 has just been announced. The festival is jointly programmed by the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow and Filmhouse in Edinburgh, and has a special focus on films by female directors. Hedi Schneider is Stuck is a highly praised comedy drama about a woman with clinical depression; star Laura Tonke won a Lola Award for her raw and quirky performance as Hedi, and writer-director Sonja Heiss will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening at Filmhouse on Fri 25 Nov. Wild, by Nicolette Krebitz, has been described as 'peculiarly beautiful' and 'challenging', and is the story of an alienated young woman (Lilith Stangenberg) who forms an unusually intimate relationship with a wolf. Theresa von Eltz's 4 Kings is about a group of teenagers who spend Christmas in a psychiatric emergency unit; and Anne Zohra Berrached's 24 Weeks follows cabaret performer Astrid (Julia Jentsch, Sophie Scholl), who learns late in pregnancy that her unborn child will have Down's Syndrome and a serious heart defect, and has to face a difficult decision.
But it's not all mental health issues, family heartbreak and wolf cunnilingus – yeah, when we said 'unusually intimate' we weren't being all sizzle and no steak, were we? Veit Helmer's Fiddlesticks is a colourful kids' adventure, and there are two classics in the form of Lang's extraordinary, genre-bending The Testament of Dr Mabuse and Robert Siodmak's silent classic of everyday life, People on Sunday. Finally, the documentary From Caligari to Hitler explores the role of cinema in the rise of Nazism and is named after Siegfried Kracauer's hugely influential 1947 book, one of the earliest classics of film studies.
Not all the films will be screened in all the cities Fokus goes to (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Ayr and Glasgow) and at the moment, Hedi Schneider is Stuck is only scheduled for screening in Edinburgh. But watch our film listings for further developments.
Fokus takes place in Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 25 Nov–Sun 4Dec; Belmont, Aberdeen, Sat 3–Thu 15 Dec; Eden Court, Inverness, Wed 7–Tue 27 Dec; DCA, Dundee, Wed 4–Sun 8 Jan; Ayr Film Society, Thu 26–Sat 28 Jan, and Glasgow Film Theatre, dates and times TBA.