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It’s the Festival’s 10th jubilee and “It’s looking good,” says Klaus Krischok, director of the Festival and Goethe–Institut Australia.” Andrew L. Urban reports.

In Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, the Festival will open with Goethe! – a sumptuous costume drama in the style of Shakespeare In Love, whilst Melbourne and Perth opening night audiences will be treated to a screening of the award-winning Vincent Wants To Sea, which focuses on the adventures of three lost souls on a life-altering journey. It will be release in cinemas later in the year.

Vincent (Florian David Fitz) suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome and has been placed in a clinic by his politician father, Robert Gellner (Heino Ferch). His mother has just passed away and Vincent wants to honour her wish by taking her ashes to the seaside. It’s an impossible task under the circumstances, but Vincent is determined and escapes from the clinic in a stolen car. With anorexic Marie (Karoline Herfurth) and obsessive–compulsive Alex (Johannes Almayer) along for the ride, he heads toward the Italian coast, with his father and Doctor Rose (Katharina Muller-Elmau) from the clinic in bickering pursuit.

" artistic merit and commercial appeal"

The combination of the characters and the lively direction of a well observed screenplay that gives the film a vibe that is infectious and endearing. It’s a great example of contemporary crossover German cinema – a film with artistic merit and commercial appeal.

As part of the 10th anniversary celebrations, Burghart Klaussner, one of Germany’s most esteemed actors, will be in Australia to launch the Festival in Sydney and accompany screenings in Melbourne.

A household name in his native country Klaussner has appeared in more than 50 German feature films since 1983, with major roles in such international hits as Goodbye Lenin!, The Edukators, Requiem, Yella and The Reader, alongside Kate Winslett and David Gross, plus director Michael Haneke’s award-winning thriller, The White Ribbon. His performance as the Pastor in Haneke’s masterpiece earned Klaussner the award for Outstanding Individual Achievement: Actor at the 2010 German Film Awards – Germany’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Klaussner, who is fluent in English, stars in three films in this year’s Festival programme: Requiem (2006), The Silence (2010) and Goethe! (2010) and will introduce select Festival screenings of those features in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane. 

"star power"

Klaussner’s visit adds more star power to this year’s Festival, which will also be attended by legendary director, Wim Wenders who will be in Sydney to introduce a screening of his latest film Pina at the Festival’s closing night event to be staged at Sydney Opera House on Sunday April 17.

Pina, a documentary - and the world’s first 3D art film – is about Philippine ‘Pina’ Bausch, the great German dance choreographer who died in 2009 after one of the most brilliant careers of any German performance artist

Debuting 38 year old filmmaker Sophie Heldman tackles some of the issues of getting old – or more pertinently, facing the prospect of death – through the eyes of an elderly couple in the late 60s, on the eve of their daughter’s marriage. An unusual version of the ‘family secrets’ sub-genre, it’s powered by a set of great performances from veteran Bruno Ganz and Senta Berger. 

"heartwrenching and beautiful"

‘We always talked about the end, never about what comes before’ says Ganz’s Fred, recently diagnosed with one of the afflictions of old age. It’s a line that resonates with anyone contemplating the last years of their life – and an exit strategy, as it were. Heldman takes us on a journey whose end is both heartwrenching and beautiful.

By contrast, the ageing theme is given a comedic treatment in Julia’s Disappearance, in which Julia approaches her 50th birthday with trepidation, when Lilli, an older woman who sits next to her on a Zurich bus quips that old people become ‘invisible’. Unsettled, Julia puts off going to her own birthday party …. Leaving the guests in limbo. When Lilli attends an 80th birthday party of her friend Leonie, a far from invisible veteran with a sharp mind and tongue. 

The contemplation of youth and age are no less serious for the film’s comedic tone in Christoph Schaub’s award winning film – which also co-stars Bruno Ganz as on older man who refuses to let anything remind him of his ageing, with Corinna Harfouch terrific as Julia. It makes you feel good about old age, for heaven’s sake!

Bruno Ganz also turns up in The Day of the Cat, playing the Swiss President, nicknamed the Cat, in what is a sharp look at Swiss politics from the inside, along with a personal drama. A deep crisis in his cabinet, plummeting approval ratings and a potentially disastrous state visit by the King and Queen of Spain appear certain to force his resignation, but the wily old Cat hasn’t used up all his nine political lives just yet. The film also stars the highly acclaimed and accomplished Ulrich Tukur and is directed by Wolfgang Panzer.

Other highlights of the program:
ALMANYA (Director: Yasemin Samdereli)
The surprise smash-comedy of the 2011 Berlinale: When a Turkish family leave their home after 30 years in Germany the question arises: Who am I - a German or a Turk?

CLOSE TO YOU (Director: Almut Getto)
What happens when an emotionally blank young man meets an exuberant blind girl? Will his pet tortoise remain the only living thing he really loves - or will he break out of his shell?

NAGNA PARBAT (Director: Joseph Vilsmaier)
Based on a true story and a thrilling real–life adventure, this mountain drama takes you to the top of the Himalayas and into the abyss of human guilt.

SINGLE BY CONTRACT (Director: Mark Rothermund)
A fresh and funny romantic comedy with positive girl–power messages and a set of toe–tapping tunes – when an unsuspecting girl falls in love with a megastar.

THE DAY I WAS NOT BORN (Director: Florian Cossen)
A compelling combination of personal and political histories set in Germany and Argentina: Who am I? This remains the most fundamental question of all.

THE MURDER FARM (Director: Bettina Oberli)
Keeping its secrets well hidden and building to a suspenseful climax, this stylish drama will take you well beyond the romantic facades of an alpine village.

THE POLL DIARIES (Director: Chris Kraus)

A deeply moving drama and fascinating history lesson, set on the Baltic coast pre WWI: The world changes – but is the old guard willing to change in it?

Romeo and Juliet behind the Wall face unexpected challenges in this family battle of two opposing political creeds.

Published April 6, 2011

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Vincent Wants to Sea

SYDNEY: 6 - 18 April - Chauvel Cinema & Palace Norton Street

MELBOURNE: 7 - 18 April - Palace Cinema Como & Kino Cinemas

BRISBANE: 7 - 12 April - Palace Centro Cinema

ADELAIDE: 13 - 18 April - Palace Nova Eastend Cinema

PERTH: 14 - 18 April - Cinema Paradiso


Single by Contract

The Day I Was Not Born

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