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:: Spotlight :: 2012 AUDI Festival of German Films

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

For the 11th annual Festival, the AUDI German Festival of Film has assembled a spectacular cinematic collection that highlights the rich diversity of Germany’s contemporary film industry. Under the guidance of the Festival’s new director, Dr. Arpad Sölter and presented by the Goethe Institut in association with German Films, the 2012 outing, once again proudly sponsored by Audi, Europe’s leading producer of exquisite automobiles, will screen 37 of the most compelling features and documentaries to emerge from Germany and Switzerland over the past year. The 2012 line-up will also include a selection of shorts and a retrospective on the work of famed German actor/director Leander Haußman (Hotel Lux, Robert Zimmerman is Tangled up in Love, Sun Alley), who will be a guest of this year’s event.

Screening across 6 cities from April 18 until early May, the 2012 Festival will offer a varied programme, in each state. The Sydney season will commence with a screening of Hotel Lux, a satire set in the late 1930s about an apolitical comedian/cabaret actor who finds himself stranded in a Moscow hotel, where he is forced to pose as Hitler’s personal astrologer, whilst in Melbourne, Summer Window, a romance that sees its protagonist transported to her past, will open the Festival. Brisbane’s season will open with Cracks in the Shell, a challenging psychological tale about a young actress faced with a powerful self-revelation, whilst Adelaide and Perth’s season will be launched by Westwind, the story of twin sisters from East Germany whose bond is tested when they meet two young men from Hamburg during a 1988 summer camp.

Additional highlights of the 2012 Festival programme include:

4 Days in May / 4 Tage im Mai (Screening all cities)
Four days before the end of the Second World War in Germany. A Soviet Captain and his patrol have occupied an orphanage by the sea; a German army unit is camped on the beach; a secret love affair blooms against all odds. Everyone is weary of fighting; except for the 13-year-old orphan Peter who wants to prove he's a hero and tries with all his cunning and power to instigate trouble between the opposing troops.

Color of the Ocean / Die Farbe des Ozeans (Screening all cities except Canberra)
A German tourist on the Cayman Islands discovers a group of African refugees undergoing detention by the local police. Her concern with their plight leads her to help one of the refugees and his young son. However, will this humanitarian act lead to a positive result?

Combat Girls / Kriegerin (Screening Sydney & Melbourne)
Set in a small town in East Germany, Combat Girls offers a nightmarish depiction of Neo-Nazism from a uniquely female perspective through the eyes of its central character, Marisa, a 20 year-old skinhead who blames others for her country’s decline.

If Not Us, Who / Wer Wenn Nicht Wir (Screening all cities)
The political and social events that happened in the 1960s in West Germany are brought to the fore in this absorbing drama about the relationship between the rebellious revolutionaries Gudrun Ensslin and Bernward Vesper. Gudrun defied authority and was sympathetic to the communist cause, while Bernward, the son of a Nazi writer, fought against his difficult heritage.

Kaddish for a Friend / Kaddisch für einen Freund (Screening Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide)
In a tough, Berlin suburb an elderly Jewish war veteran resists being placed in a retirement home, preferring to retain his independence. However, when a neighbouring Muslim teenager ransacks his apartment, what will be the consequences? Will the old man and the boy’s family ever forge a peaceful co-existence?

Mahler on the Couch / Mahler auf der Couch (Screening all cities except Perth)
Based on some factual evidence, this film recounts the 1910 meeting of composer Gustav Mahler and Sigmund Freud, when Mahler, on discovering that his wife Alma was having an affair with architect Walter Gropius, was driven to seek Freud’s help in coming to terms with the deception.

Men in the City 2 / Männerherzen 2 (Screening Sydney & Melbourne)
The sequel to the 2010 Festival comic hit, Men in the City, this story reunites the ‘men’ placing them in even more humorous situations whilst simultaneously sympathizing with their relationships and work dramas.

Rodicas / Rodicas (Screening Sydney & Melbourne)
Fresh from the 62nd Berlinale, this incisive documentary, set in present-day Sydney, follows two elderly Rumanian-Jewish women who live their daily lives with a strong sense of friendship and shared experiences. Directed by Alice Guia, who is also a grand-daughter of one of the two protagonists,

Sennentuntschi (Screening all cities except Canberra)
In an isolated Swiss village, locals discover the body of a priest while a young woman arrives seeking retribution for past misdeeds. This first, unsettling horror film from Switzerland involves the creation of a monster, the invoking of the supernatural, and the way the past reconciles with the present.

Stopped on Track / Halt auf freier Strecke (Screening all cities)
This intimate film follows Frank (Milan Peschel) who is diagnosed with a brain tumour. Depicted in a semi-documentary style, we observe the process by which he chooses to live the remainder of his life, from the way that his family copes, to the participation of actual health professionals. The issues of mortality and dealing with a death sentence are explored via scenes that evoke a strong response from both the actors and the audience.

The Good Neighbour / Unter Nachbarn (Screening Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide)
In this thriller, a journalist, starting life in a new city, is involved in a hit and run accident, which leads him to become immersed in a psychological game of cat and mouse.

Three / Drei (Screening all cities except Canberra)
Director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Perfume) brings us a provocative drama about a married couple whose 20-year relationship is at a crossroads. They respectively each meet a man who is able to satisfy what is lacking in their lives. This man is the same one for both of them, and an unusual ménage a trois ensues.

Festival dates and venues are as follows:

SYDNEY - April 18 - 30; Chauvel Cinema, Palace Norton Street
MELBOURNE - April 19 - 30; Palace Cinema Como, Kino Cinemas
BRISBANE - April 19 - 25; Palace Centro Cinema
ADELAIDE - April 26 to May 1; Palace Nova Eastend Cinema
PERTH - May 3 – 6; Cinema Paradiso
CANBERRA - May 3 – 6; National Film and Sound Archive