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:: Spotlight :: 2014 Audi Festival of German Films

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

With a line-up as tasty as Schnitzel, satisfying as Sauerbraten and enticing as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, it’s no wonder that the Audi Festival of German Films 2014 is whetting cinematic appetites! For the event’s 13th annual season, Festival Director, Dr. Arpad Sölter and his international jury of movie experts have selected over 50 award-winning and critically lauded features, shorts and documentaries that showcase Germany’s multi-layered, vibrant and ever-evolving culture.

Proudly presented by the Goethe-Institut in association with German Films, screening partner Palace Cinemas, and the support of Audi, whose vehicles are a byword for European automotive excellence, the 2014 Festival will take place over two weeks in six luxurious Palace cinema locations across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, commencing in Sydney on March 26.

Audaciously ambitious in its scope, this year’s programme includes extraordinary dramas, thrillers, comedies, romances, westerns, historical epics, coming-of-age tales and horror-movies, most of which will be screening as Australian premieres. There’s also a joyous selection of films for the young and the young-at-heart that the whole family will relish, as well as designated school sessions and numerous special events which, in addition to the Festival’s screenings, frame the enormous variety of the Audi Festival of German Films.

Launching the Festival in Sydney and Melbourne will be Banklady, an action crime-drama starring celebrated German actress Nadeshda Brennicke, who will be the Festival’s guest-of-honour at the Gala Opening Night events in both cities. Based on a true story, Banklady brings to life the escapades of Gisela Werler, West Germany’s first female bank robber who made the transition from shy worker to notorious felon during her heyday in the 1960s.

Screening highlights of the 2014 Festival include:

BELA KISS: PROLOGUE (Screening in Sydney & Melbourne)
Five young bank robbers hideout in a remote hotel in the woods. Following a series of unsettling incidents, they begin to suspect that Bela Kiss, a brutal serial killer who strangled and poisoned more than twenty young women a century earlier, may haunt their refuge.

EXIT MARRAKECH (Screening in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane)
Academy Award winning director Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa) returns with an exploration of culture and personal discovery set in Morocco. A celebrated theatre director and his disaffected teenage son try to reconnect as they explore resentments and issues from the past.

GOLD (Screening in Sydney & Melbourne)
Directed by Thomas Arslan, protagonist of the “Berlin School” of filmmaking (German New Wave) and starring famed actress Nina Hoss, this engrossing drama follows the adventures of a group of German-American immigrants, seeking gold in northwest Canada’s Klondike region in the late 19th century.

HOME FROM HOME (Screening in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane)
The Heimat series, by Edgar Reitz, did much to portray Germany as a significant, historic identity. Now, Reitz returns with this revisionist view of ‘Heimat’ (homeland), set in the 19th century, when many Europeans settled in South America to escape the poverty and famine of the time.

HOUSTON (Screening in Sydney, Melbourne & Canberra)
A company executive in the throes of personal dilemmas due to his job, alcoholism and crumbling marriage, is given an opportunity to recruit a new American CEO for his German company, which leads to a number of confronting events.

OH BOY (Screening in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane & Canberra)
Niko, a man in his 20s, is beset by a series of unexpected incidents that throw his well-ordered life into turmoil. Shot in black and white on the streets of Berlin, this debut feature by Jan-Ole Gerster has received numerous awards and highlights a side of German life that is not commonly represented in German film.

SOURCES OF LIFE (Screening in Sydney & Melbourne)
From writer/director Oskar Roehler comes a compelling portrait of post-war West Germany from the viewpoint of an ordinary man. A WW2 veteran returns to find his life dislocated by an emerging nation and a family trying to cope with significant social change. Starring Jürgen Vogel & Moritz Blebtreu.

VISITORS (Screening in Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane)
Amidst hidden resentments, Jacob, a chemist, visits his three adult children after many years. His struggling offspring happily take his money, but are unwilling to relate to him in any real manner. But when Jacob reveals he is unemployed and can no longer support them, simmering tensions, including the question of how they will cope in the future, erupt.

In addition to the Festival’s many planned Q&A sessions, to be attended by a host of exciting European guests, some of our special events include:

25 YEARS AGO – FALL OF THE WALL (Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane)
Journey through the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall via two fascinating documentaries and live music from Berlin cabaret pop band, The Beez.

READING PERFORMANCE WW1: 1914 – 1918 (Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra)
Renowned actor, director and performer, Justus Neumann, revisits Karl Kraus’ satire The Last Days of Mankind (1918) in an inspiring lecture about the absurdity of war.

Take a voyage from jazz to reggae, accompanied by live music, refreshments plus screenings of As Time Goes by in Shanghai, Journey to Jah and I Feel Like Disco.

Join us for the movie Bela Kiss: Prologue, a Q&A with lead actor Angus McGruther and diabolical drinks prior to our equally dark second feature, The Station — sweet dreams guaranteed!

Indulge in an authentic Swiss feast, two fabulous Swiss movies and music from Swiss DJ Moses Iten. Presented with the kind assistance of the Swiss Consulate.

ORIENTAL NIGHT (Sydney/Melbourne)
Depart your everyday life whilst enjoying the movie Exit Marrakech and let your senses succumb to an exotic Moroccan-themed evening.

Michelle Langford, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at University of NSW, will launch her Directory of World Cinema: Germany Vol. 2 in a special evening at the Goethe-Institut.

Sydney: 26 March to 10 April Chauvel Cinema & Palace Norton Street
Melbourne:27 March to 11 AprilPalace Cinema Como & Kino Cinemas
Brisbane:28 March to 3 AprilPalace Centro
Canberra: 1 April to 6 AprilPalace Electric Cinema


**Update as at March 21**

With over 50 amazingly diverse and fêted features, shorts and documentaries awaiting audiences at the 13th annual AUDI FESTIVAL OF GERMAN FILMS, this year’s event promises to be the most dynamic yet! And to help celebrate, we have a fabulous line-up of international guests, all of whom speak excellent English, who will be attending a dazzling variety of special event screenings to be held at luxurious Palace Cinema venues.

NADESHDA BRENNICKE – ACTOR (Banklady / The Phantom / Tattoo)
One of German cinema’s most charismatic screen stars, Nadeshda Brennicke, will be heading to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra. The award-winning Brennicke has starred in several successful movies such as Bob Swaim’s Le Doigt de Dieu (1997), Dominik Graf’s Hotte Im Paradies (2003) and Denis Gansel’s The Phantom (2000). She recently received the Silver Hugo for Best Actress in Banklady at the Chicago International Film Festival. Brennicke will be presenting Banklady (our Opening Night Film in Sydney and in Melbourne) as well as retrospective events for her movies The Phantom and Tattoo.

ANGUS McGRUTHER – ACTOR (Bela Kiss: Prologue)
With the dashing looks of a leading man and talent to match, Sydney-sider Angus McGruther graduated from the University of Wollongong’s acting program in 2006. Since then he has worked in theatre, film and television in Australia and Germany, splitting his time living and working between Sydney and Berlin. He appeared on stage at the English Theatre Berlin and in the German sci-fi film Snowblind (2010) alongside Wim Wenders. McGruther stars in the Festival’s spine-tingling thriller Bela Kiss: Prologue, which will screen in English without subtitles and will attend Q&A screenings in both Sydney and Melbourne.

Viennese-born Justus Neumann is an actor, director and performer who has been living on Tasmania’s Bruny Island since 1987. He has performed with the Vienna Schauspielhaus Ensemble, won the City of Vienna Best Actor Award twice and produced the musical theater piece Alzheimer Symphony in 2013. His bilingual productions are created in Tasmania and exported to Austria. In a stand-out Festival event to be held in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, Neumann will present Karl Kraus’ chilling, almost prophetic satire The Last Days of Mankind (1918) in an inspiring lecture about the absurdity of war and mankind’s ongoing mistakes. Neumann’s presentation will be followed by refreshments and a screening of the acclaimed WWI drama Odyssey of Heroes.

Constanze Knoche studied dramaturgy at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Leipzig and directing at the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Potsdam, at the Filmakademie Vienna and at the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema in Lisbon. Since 2007, she has worked as a director, writer and producer for film and television, being one of the shareholders and managers of the film production company Neufilm since 2012. Knoche directed the award-winning Visitors and will be present for Q&As alongside her partner, Leis Bagdach in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Visitors tells the story of Jakob and Hanna who, during an unannounced visit to Berlin, tell their three adult children that they are no longer able to support them financially. Karla, Arnolt and Sonni seem to live successful city lives, but, on closer inspection, they are in the midst of different life-crises, which have a common cause: lack of independence. After a big family-quarrel and some painful revelations each family member is made aware of just how little he or she knows about the others.

Leis Bagdach studied literature and theatre at the University of Leipzig before moving to Berlin in 2000. Since then he has worked as a freelance writer for cinema, TV and theatre. Bagdach was not only one of the screenwriters for the film Visitors, he also co-manages the film production company Neufilm with his partner Constanze Knoche and Holm Taddiken.

Proudly presented by the Goethe-Institut in association with German Films, screening partner Palace Cinemas, and the support of Audi, the 2014 Festival will take place over two weeks in six Palace cinema locations across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, commencing in Sydney on 26th of March.

Sydney: 26 March to 10 April - Chauvel Cinema & Palace Norton Street
Melbourne: 27 March to 11 April - Palace Cinema Como & Kino Cinemas
Brisbane:28 March to 3 April - Palace Centro
Canberra:1 April to 6 April - Palace Electric Cinema