GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL 2009 – PREVIEW
THE BERLIN WALL . . . AND SEX TRAFFICKING
Marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, this year’s German
Film Festival includes six films from the former GDR among its program of 30
films, as well as sex-traffic drama, Trade, one of three films in the program -
his first in English - by Marco Kreuzpaintner. Andrew L. Urban reports.
Based on New York Times Magazine reporter Peter Landesman's investigative
article The Girls Next Door (2004) on the international sex slave trade network,
Trade is a fictionalised story in which 13 year old Adriana (Paulina Gaitan), is
kidnapped in Mexico, joining another kidnap vicitm, Polish teenager, Veronica (Alicja
Bachleda-Curus). They are transported to the US by Manuelo (Marco Perez). By
chance, Jorge (Cesar Ramos), Adriana's 17-year-old brother, sees her being
kidnapped in Mexico City and follows Manuelo's car all the way to the Mexican
border. At a crucial moment near the border, he meets Texas Ranger Ray (Kevin
Kline), and they join forces to pursue Manuelo to rescue the women and in the
process discover the extensive slave-smuggling operation based in New Jersey.
Academy-award winning actor Kevin Kline presented the film at a special
screening at the United Nations in September 2008 to promote awareness about the
alarming and largely unknown problem of girls and young women being trafficked.
Kline told reporters that the film gives viewers an idea of how trafficking
networks operate "not only behind the scenes but ... in plain sight in these
residential neighbourhoods. All around the world it's happening and people see
it but they're not aware of it," Kline said. "The movie is gut-wrenching and
alarming and disturbing, as it is meant to be."
Landesman’s report provided the film’s background; underage girls and young
women, abducted in Eastern Europe or Latin America, are smuggled into the United
States through Mexico – as in the film.
Marco Kreuzpaintner’s Summer Storm is also screening; Achim (Kostja Ullman) and
Tobi – played by Robert Stadlober, who is a guest of the festival and also
appears in Krabat - are mates and soon discover that it is not just the love of
sports that unites them. As cox and oarsman, they have helped their rowing team
win several cups and are now looking forward to a big regatta in the
countryside. But this trip is different. Achim has become close to Sandra
(Miriam Morgenstern), forcing Tobi to realize that his feelings for Achim run
deeper than he’s willing to admit to himself. Adding to his anxieties is the
sudden arrival of an openly gay rowing team called Queerstroke.
The festival will also screen the Australian premiere of The Baader Meinhof
Complex, written and produced by Bernd Eichinger (Downfall) and directed Uli
Edel, starring Moritz Bleibtreu as Andreas Baader and Martina Gedeck as Ulrike
Meinhof. The film is based on Stefan Aust’s detailed story about this 1970s
terrorist cell – Aust will be a guest at the festival.
This film reminds us that they didn’t really stand for anything much more than
anarchy, even though they – eventually – dressed it up as a desire to ‘free the
oppressed’ and destroy US imperialism, as they saw it. They wanted world peace,
if you like, even it meant waging war and slaughtering civilians to get it. The
film highlights the absolute failure of politically driven terrorism as an agent
of socio-political change.
And for something completely different, the festival is screening
Kreuzpaintner’s acclaimed family film, Krabat, set in 17th century German, in
the midst of the 30 years war and the plague. David Kross (of The Reader fame)
stars as the young Krabat who discovers a terrible secret in the old mill where
he learns his trade alongside 11 companions. Robert Stadlober, a guest at the
festival, plays Lyschko. The film – a visual feast, with spectacular locations
in the Carpathians in Romania - is based on an ancient legend and the
international bestselling book (subtitled The Satanic Mill) by Otfried Preussler
and proves that films for children need not be bright and vacuous to be enjoyed.
12 Means: I Love You
East Germany in the 70s: A prisoner falls in love with her Stasi officer. The
intense relationship takes a twist when they revisit the prison after the wall
has come down.
Starring Devid Striesow.
Young Effi is married to an ambitious politician who just will not understand
her. When she meets the charming Major Crampas, serious trouble begins in this
new adaptation of Fontane’s 19th century novel. Starring Julia Jentsch.
Eye to Eye – All About German Film
More than 100 years in the making: The history of the kiss on screen, cigarettes
on celluloid and cars running on the big reel. A hilarious and stimulating
history of German film.
The Baader Meinhof Complex
Academy-Award nominated drama about Germany’s infamous RAF terrorist gang, with
stunning performances by all star cast, including Moritz Bleibtreu.
DJ Ickarus flies too high – on substances and his own music. The big city forms
the background to a highly emotional drama - and delivers the soundtrack of a
Emil decides to fall in love – with a girl who has just died: A bitter sweet
Swiss comedy of errors with a message of optimism.
Happy New Year
Zurich during the night of nights: Friends become strangers and strangers end up
as lovers, a dog escapes and lost love is found again.
German icon Hildegard Knef comes to life in this new biopic starring Heike
Makatsch and featuring some of the best loved chansons of Berlin in the 60s and
Clara is more than the woman behind composer Robert Schumann. The intense
musical drama takes the viewer on a journey of love, deceit, ambition and hope.
Starring Martina Gedeck.
A young German doctor wants to change the world in Columbia’s drug infested
cities. He soon realises this is more difficult than he thought and finds
himself strangely drawn to teenage gang members and assassins. Starring August
The Invention of the Curried Sausage
Lena hides the young soldier Hermann in her Hamburg apartment. Love is knocking
at the door, but so is the German army. It is spring 1945…! Starring Barbara
Mila, Hanna, and Kati are best friends – always there for each other, be it
stress at school or boy trouble. And they have plenty of that…
Germany 1968, beehives and cocktail dresses: The move from East to West is not
all good for this family as mother turns neurotic and the family falls apart.
But then they have a plan….
A Year ago in Winter
Academy-Award winner Caroline Link’s long awaited return: Eliane asks Max to
paint a portrait of her children. One of them is dead – and the other does not
want to be in the picture.
A road movie and a journey to unexpected interiors – as Laura, Ali and the ex
soldier Thomas meet in this small town near the Baltic sea, a dangerous love
triangle begins. Stunning performances by Nina Hoss and Benno Fürmann
One of the best children’s books on film: Young Lippel is left with Frau Jacob
the strict housemaid. His only escapes are his book and his dream. Soon they
begin to become one....
Lulu and Jimi
Beautiful Lulu comes from a rich family and falls in love with Jimi. Jimi is
black – and this is unusual in provincial Germany in the 1950s. A rebel film
with a fairy tale look!
Family drama unfolds as young Inga discovers that her dead mother’s stories were
not altogether true. She sets on a journey between present and past, East and
West…Accompanied by shooting star Anna Maria Mühe
Wim Wenders’ latest film, starring rock star Campino: Finn, the fashion
photographer decides to break with his life style and stays in Palermo. Soon he
discovers that someone is after him.
Inge has been married for over 30 years – when all of a sudden she falls in
love, with an even older man. Intimate and award winning psychological drama by
One Two Three
Billy Wilder’s famous 1961 Berlin comedy: Cola agent Jim Cagney needs to protect
a secret recipe from thirsty Russians as his daughter falls in love with a
German heart throb. Starring James Cagney, Horst Buchholz and Lilo Pulver.
Jacob the Liar
The only Academy Award nominated East German film ever: The emotional and
sometimes tragically funny story of survival in the Warsaw ghetto.
Traces of Stone
Banned by the East German regime, this is the story of the carpenters who use
non-conformist ways in order to fulfil their socialist duties.
Carbide and Sorrel
After the World War II, Dresden has a lot of reconstructing to do. A gruelling
task turns into an adventurous and funny journey – with highly explosive
The Legend of Paul and Paula
Arguably East Germany’s most successful film: Paul and Paula have had bad
experiences with love: Now they are together –and try to escape reality.
East Germany’s only explicitly gay film – was ironically premiered the very
night the wall came down: Coming-Out takes on a very different meaning.
She is blonde, she can sing and she is independent. And maybe this is a little
too much for some – in East Germany in the 1970s.
Published April 9, 2009
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Sydney: 15 – 26 April Chauvel Cinema / Palace Norton Street
Melbourne: 16 – 26 April Palace Cinema Como / Kino Palace Cinemas
Perth: 16 – 20 April Cinema Paradiso
Brisbane: 22 – 28 April Palace Centro
Legend of Paul and Paula
The Baader Meinhof Complex