ARThound

Geneva Anderson digs into art

Dog Lovers! Tonight is your night…. Julian Roman Pölsler’s “The Wall” (“Die Wand”) screens at 8:45 at the Smith Rafael…part of a week of screenings of foreign Oscar nominees

As the only human survivor after an unexplained global tragedy, German actress Marina Gedeck bonds tightly with her loyal dog in Julian Roman Pölsler’s “The Wall” a film that is true to Marlen Haushofer’s exceptional novel . Image: courtesy of Music Box Films

As the only human survivor after an unexplained global tragedy, German actress Martina Gedeck bonds tightly with her loyal dog in Julian Roman Pölsler’s “The Wall” a film that is true to Marlen Haushofer’s exceptional novel . Image: courtesy of Music Box Films

I wouldn’t be ARThound if I didn’t do a special shout-out for Lynx, the amazing hound that co-stars in  The Wall (Die Wand, 2012) which screens tonight (Wed) at 8:45 PM at the Smith Rafael (Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center)  as part of their week of exceptional screenings of foreign Oscar nominations from around the world…. I can’t say it enough… consistently awesome programming!

The Wall (Die Wand):  Austrian director Julian Roman Pölsler’s film is based on Marlen Haushofer’s 1962 dystopian hit novel of the same name (just re-printed in English). The film stars German actress Martina Gedeck from the brilliant 2006 Stassi thriller The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) and tells the story of a completely ordinary middle-aged woman (Gedeck) who is vacationing with friends in a remote mountain hunting lodge.  Her friends go out to a pub and she stays back with the dog and when they don’t come back, she makes a very creepy discovery.  She is imprisoned on the mountainside by an invisible wall, behind which there seems to be no life.  She appears to be the sole remaining human on earth, along with the dog (a red hound that will steal your heart),a cow, a cat, and a kitten, with which she forms a tight-knit family.

The film rests entirely on Gedeck’s shoulders and she is riveting, delivering a very credible performance that will leave you shivering and running home to snuggle with your dog.  The odd beauty of this film is that this last survivor scenario may be your own romanticized idea of heaven, or hell (Who hasn’t said  “Fuck the world! I’m sick of people…give me just my dog!), but watching Gedeck use her time laboring hard, protecting her pack, and introspectively processing her present life, leads us to right into her moments of intensely felt angst, terror, joy and sorrow. (Screens Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 8:45 PM, Smith Rafael)

I first reviewed The Wall when it screened at last year’s Berlin & Beyond Film Festival—the very best new films by German, Austrian and Swiss directors—a noteworthy jewel in the huge array of festivals.  This year, the 18th annual Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, kicks off this evening at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre with Georg Maas’ Two Lives (Zwei Leben, 2012), Germany’s official entry, short-listed for the best foreign language Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards.  Click here to read ARThound’s coverage of this year’s Berlin & Beyond.)  Two Lives also screens tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 PM at the Smith Rafael and filmmaker Maas will be in attendance for what will be a riveting Q&A.  So, in San Rafael, you’ve got the opportunity to see two great German-language films back-to-back as part of their foreign Oscar nominee programming and, in San Francisco, Berlin & Beyond offers 30 feature length German-language films and 7 shorts over the next week (including six North American premieres and two US premieres).

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January 15, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 18th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival—the best and newest in German Language Cinema, starts Wednesday, January 15, 2014, at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre

Georg Maas’ “Two Lives” (Zwei Leben, 2012), Germany’s official entry into the 2014 Academy Awards, kicks off  the 18th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, January 15-21, 2014, at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre and the Goethe-Institut.   Europe in 1990—the Berlin Wall has just crumbled.  Katrine is a Norwegian "war child," raised in East Germany, who has been living in Norway for the past 20 years.  She enjoys a happy life with her mother, her husband, daughter, and granddaughter. When a lawyer asks Katrine and her mother to testify in a trial against the Norwegian state on behalf of the war children, she resists.  A web of tightly-held secrets and deceit is unveiled.  This drama addresses an important but taboo topic in Norwegian history: the way Norwegian women who had relationships with German occupation soldiers were treated by their country after World War II, and what happened to them under the Stasi regime in the former East Germany. The film features the legendary Liv Ullmann in a rare performance.  Filmmaker Georg Maas will attend.

Georg Maas’ “Two Lives” (Zwei Leben, 2012), Germany’s official entry, short-listed for the best foreign language Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards, kicks off the 18th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, January 15-21, 2014, at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre and the Goethe-Institut. Europe in 1990—the Berlin Wall has just crumbled and the Cold War has ended. Katrine (Juliane Koehler) has been living in Norway for the past 20 years but is is a Norwegian “war child.” Her father was a soldier in the German occupying troops during WWII and she was sent to and raised in totalitarian East Germany, only able to reunite with her Norwegian mother (Norwegian legend Liv Ullmann) long after WWII’s end. When a lawyer asks Katrine and her mother to testify in a trial against the Norwegian state on behalf of the war children who were relocated, she resists. A web of tightly-held secrets and deceit about Katrine’s true identity is unveiled. This drama addresses an important but taboo topic in Norwegian history: the way Norway, after World War II, treated Norwegian women who had relationships with German occupation soldiers and what happened to their children, many of whom were transported to what became Stasi-ruled East Germany. Adaptation of the novel “Eiszeten” by Hannelore Hippe. Filmmaker Georg Maas will attend.

For film lovers in the Bay Area, the annual Berlin & Beyond Film Festival is an essential—it’s where one goes to see the very best new films by German, Austrian and Swiss directors and the crème of the crop of international collaborations from directors working beyond these borders.  The focus is Germany and German language but it’s the exceptional storytelling, intense drama and highly cinematic nature of the films, and the complete abandonment of Hollywood special effects, that make this relatively small scale festival a stand-out in the myriad of festivals that are cropping up everywhere.  The festival will mark its 18th season with a dazzling roster of special guests onstage and will screen 30 feature length films and 7 shorts, including six North American premieres and two US premieres.  Festival director Sophoan Sorn, at the helm for his fourth year now, has collaborated with Festival President Sabine Erlenwein to select films that showcase this year’s theme “Courage in Motion”—delivering cinematic stories that embrace overcoming life’s myriad of obstacles.  The festival kicks off Wednesday evening with Germany’s official entry into the 2014 Academy Awards, Two Lives (Zwei Leben, 2012) and an opening night party at Tank18, one of the City’s finest wine bars.  It closes (at the Castro venue) with the North American premiere of Nana Nuel’s Silent Summer (Stiller Sommer, 2013), with Nuel and renowned actor Hans-Jochen Wagner in attendance.   This year’s festival pays special tribute to legendary author, film producer, screenwriter and filmmaker, Peter Sehr, with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in acting.  Mr. Sehr, who had a knack for the political period drama, passed in May 2013 from cancer, but his wife and creative partner, director Marie Noëlle, will be present at the festival to receive the posthumous award and will appear in person at the screening of their final film, festival centerpiece Ludwig II (2012), at the Castro Theatre on January 17th, at 5:30 PM.  It all begins Wednesday, January 15, and runs Sunday, January 19, in San Francisco, at the historic Castro Theatre, with additional evening screenings on January 20-21 at the Goethe-Institut SF (530 Bush Street).

The festival marks its 18th season with a dazzling roster of special guests onstage—Ali Saghri (producer, Breaking Horizons); Anne Thoma (director/writer, Miles & War); Aylin Tezel (director, Inhale (short film); actor, Breaking Horizons & BFF 2012 Opener Almanya); Christian Schwochow (director, West); Georg Maas (director/screenwriter, Two Lives, The Real World of Peter Gabriel); Hans-Jochen Wagner (actor, Silent Summer); Katja von Garnier (director, Windstorm); Marie Noëlle (director/screenwriter, Ludwig II); Nana Neul (director/screenwriter, Silent Summer); Udo Kramer (production designer, LOLA nominee for Measuring the World 3D); Marc Rothemund (director, The Girl with Nine Wigs; nominee, Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, 2006 for Sophie Scholl – The Final Days); Walter Steffen (director/writer, Munich in India); Xavier Koller (director, The Black Brothers; winner, Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, 1991 for Journey of Hope.  For more information and tickets, browse the festival’s official website and stay tuned to ARThound for coverage.

The lineup for the 18th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival:

Castro Theatre:

Wednesday, January 15
4:00 pm Sensational Seven – Short Films 2014
7:00 pm Opening Night Film: Two Lives
9:30 pm Opening Night Party at Tank18

Thursday, January 16
1:00 pm Windstorm
4:00 pm The Shine of Day
6:30 pm Hanna’s Journey
9:00 pm Gold

Friday, January 17
11:30 am Your Beauty Is Worth Nothing
3:00 pm Lullaby Ride
5:30 pm Centerpiece: Ludwig II
9:15 pm Shores of Hope

Saturday, January 18
11:15 am Sound of Heimat – Germany Sings
1:45 pm The Girl With Nine Wings
4:30 pm Miles & War
7:00 pm West
9:45 pm Late Show: Measuring the World (3D)

Sunday, January 19
11:30 am Munich In India
2:00 pm The Black Brothers
4:30 pm Breaking Horizons and Inhale
8:00 pm Castro Closing Night Film: Silent Summer

GOETHE-INSTITUT AUDITORIUM

Monday, January 20
6:00 pm More Than Honey
8:30 pm Free Fall

Tuesday, January 21
6:00 pm Redemption Impossible
8:30 pm Shifting The Blame

January 12, 2014 Posted by | Film | , , , , , | Leave a comment