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KINO Festival Of German Films Highlights: Personal Stories of Change

KINO Festival Of German Films Highlights: Personal Stories of Change

Playing at the Museum of the Moving Image and the Quad Cinema in New
York June 13-19 the KINO! Festival Of German Films returns for its 36th
year. Once again, the festival continues to offer the best in German
cinema produced in the last year. The program features documentaries
and narratives
that not only focus on the German experience but also on its
filmmakers’ points of view on what happens around the world. Quality is
always a given with KINO
and these wide-ranging stories are no exception. Some revisit the
country’s historical past, others travel to distant lands in search of
images, and there
are also those that feel specific to our time. Here are some
highlights of what we’ve seen so far with some additions to come soon.

For more information on the festival visit HERE

West

Dir. Christian Schwochow

In search of a more promising and free life for her and her son, Nelly Sneff (Jördis Triebel)
a
young East German chemist flees to the more modernized West side.
Even though she speaks the same language and is as German as everyone
else living in the
communal living facilities for refugees, Nelly finds it difficult to
adapt to the new system. Ironically, she comes to realize that she is
seen as the
enemy on this side of the wall. The constant questioning about the
whereabouts and affiliation of her Soviet partner, who until now she
believed dead, take
a toll on her already complex life putting her in a state of paranoia.
Her son Alexej (Tristan Göbel), who is bullied at school, befriends a neighbor, Hans ( Alexander Scheer) whose good intentions will put Nelly on the edge. Distrust is at the core of
Schwochow’s film that plays as thoughtful answer to films like “The Lives of Others” and “Barbara.” While those examples
condemned the system enforced by the Stasi, in “West
the tables are flipped. Nelly feels unsafe, watched, and harassed in a
land that was
supposed to be against those practices. Triebel’s intense performance
escalates from hopeful to enraged in a marvelously directed story about
an unexamined
subject within German history.

Nan Goldin : I Remember Your Face

Dir. Sabine Lidl

In a concisely executed documentary that runs just over 60 minutes, director Sabine Lidl
manages to
capture the essence of renowned photographer Nal Goldin. Given that
her friendships are the inspiration and subjects for her work, the
filmmaker follows
the eccentric artist as she visits old friends and reminisces about
their youth, her failed attempts at seducing attractive gay men, and
their role in her
career. Her photos are raw and vivid. They shine with colorful
nuances that only intimacy can provide. Drunk, naked, and unique people
experience sadness
and joy in front of her camera. Goldin’s extravagant collections and
her turbulent past with drugs and alcohol also make an appearance in
this short
portrait of a fascinating woman across her beloved Berlin and other European cities.

Art War

Dir. Marco Wilms

While shot by a German filmmaker, the film is very similar to the
Academy Awards-nominated film “The Square.” It follows the revolutionary
youth of Egypt
in the aftermath of the Arab Spring that brought down the Mubarak
regime. While the aforementioned film tries to depict a holistic picture
of the events,
the deaths, and the shaky political processes that followed, Wilms
decides to focus on the artistic expression that emerged from the
movement. Including
politically charged rap songs, and more extensively graffiti, the
documentary advocates for the youth’s effort to protests by peaceful
means. However, it
also points at the non-stop attacks by Islamist conservative groups
like the Muslim Brotherhood. Among their many undertakings, the art on
Mohamed Mahmoud
Street near the iconic Tahrir Square is of particular importance
because it is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the carnage.
Young Egyptians
turned martyrs are immortalized on the city’s walls as constant
reminder of an incessant struggle. There are clearly a great number of
similarities
between the two films, and though this is less achieved in scope,
it can definitely work as a complementary piece.

Finsterworld

Dir. Frauke Finsterwalder

With a multi-story concept that scrutinizes modern German society, the tonally eclectic “Finsterworld” provides some vexed assumptions
about the country’s history of violence. A high school class is taking a fieldtrip to a concentration camp, Dominik (Leonard Scheicher) and his unofficial girlfriend Natalie (Carla Juri)
are enjoying the day despite having to deal with obnoxious spoiled kid Maximilian (Jakub Gierszal). Meanwhile Franziska (Sandra Hüller), an pretentious aspiring filmmaker wants to capture
something profound, inevitably her egocentric personality crashes with her loving boyfriend police officer Tom (Ronald Zehrfeld), who is also a closeted “furry.” Then there
is Claude (Michael Maertens), a lonely masseur specialized in feet, and his friendship with elderly woman Frau (Margit Carstensen). Lastly, there are the Sandbergs (Corinna Harfouch &Bernhard Schütz), a wealthy couple on the
road who encounter a difficult situation. Touching on the subject of German identity having Hitler as only representative figure and being a nation
defined by guilt, Finsterwalder’s feature is heavily provocative. It’s strange tone that shifts between absurd comedy and gruesome violence can come across
as uncomfortable or even offensive, but there are a handful of brilliant moments that make the film rather compelling.

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