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December 2003 - Nr. 12

 

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MOMA Film Fest

New German Film
at the MOMA film fest

  TWIG - To mark the 25th anniversary of its annual survey of New German Cinema, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will present a program of ten new feature films and a selection of twenty-five features from the past quarter century of filmmaking in Germany from November, 2003, through January, 2004.

To celebrate the occasion, "The Week in Germany" presents a series of articles taking a closer look at German cinema and the state of the countryís film industry.

MOMA showcases new films from Germany
It is an ironic twist of fate that a few short years after the Museum of Modern Art began showing its annual panorama of contemporary German cinema twenty-five years ago, critics universally declared German filmmaking dead.

Next month, ten new feature-length films will be shown as part of the festival ó a group of films that promise to show the far-reaching scope of German film today. The breadth of their subject matter speaks for the often unknown variety in German cinema, an industry that was revitalized this year with an Oscar win for best foreign language film and the prospect of another with "Goodbye, Lenin," Germanyís official contender for the prize in 2004.

None of the films would suggest that German filmmakers are interested in distancing themselves from Germanyís troubled past, but that the Germansí reconciliation with their own history continues to be an important part of public discourse.

Like the initial filmmakers of the New German Cinema of the late 1960s and 1970s, German filmmakers are intrigued by social developments in Germany after the war ó from the daily struggles of guest workers and their children adapting to German society, to what September 11th means to the personal lives of a handful of German families.

The following are some of the most promising recent films from Germany which will be showcased at the festival.

Hello Dachau!

The name Dachau holds significance for many Americans as the location of the concentration camp where 31,000 people died during the Nazi Regime. But the new film by Bernd Fischer, "Hello Dachau!" shows the small Bavarian city from side seldom seen by tourists ó through a tragic-comic look at the tension of local politics. The film unravels Dachauís marred reputation, as an extraordinarily beautiful city that is plagued by corruption in local government in addition to its World War II legacy.

Fuehrer Ex

Winifried Benengelís "Fuehrer Ex" investigates the draw of the Neo-Nazi movement among misguided young people in the 1980s who felt hopeless under the East German communist regime. Based on the true story if Ingo Hasselbach, the film tells of Heiko, a young man who becomes indoctrinated into Neo-Nazi culture during a short stint in jail for petty crime just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The narrative film is based on Bonengelís 1992 documentary "Profession: Neonazi," and the close friendship that developed between the director and a young man as he distanced himself from the Neo-Nazi scene.

Solino

"Solino" is the story of a family of guest workers who leave their homeland to take part in the German post-war "Wirtschaftswunder." In 1964, an Italian family ravaged by economic misfortune picks up and moves to Duisburg in industrial northeast Germany. Eventually, they open a restaurant called Solino ó named after their hometown. As the next generation of young Italians, the brothers Gigi and Giancarlo develop a rivalry that threatens the businessís success.

September

In the wake of a disastrous September 11th attacks half-way around the world, several unrelated families in Germany struggle to deal with their own growing apprehension of Muslims. Fueled by fear, the social fabric of long-time friendships tears apart as the world turns its eye to the two downed towers.

"Thank God, Iím in the Film Business."

From Berlin underground fixture Lothar Lambert comes a documentary on the comical life of octogenarian film actress Eva Ebner called "Thank God, Iím in the Film Business." Ebner has seen it all ó from early work as a script girl to later roles as an actress and director. But after 400 films and a lifetime of working with the camera, she hasnít lost her spunk ó giving the only answer that she has for her over half a century of success in the film business, she says: "Itís charisma that counts."

Donít miss next weekís article on Margarethe von Trotta, the pioneering director of the recent film "Rosenstrasse," which opens the festival on November 9.

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