THE 18TH ANNUAL BERLIN-POTSDAM JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL KICKS OFF WITH A NEW LOOK
One of the vital features of Germany’s cinema landscape, the Berlin-Potsdam Jewish Film Festival (JFFB) is launching its 18th year with a provocative poster visible in and around the German capital.
With graffiti-style lettering that evokes Nazi propaganda, the Hamburg-based artist/photographer Daniel Josefsohn turns an anti-Semitic phrase–-specifically the 1938 law forbidding Jews from attending the cinema—upside down with glaring yellow script that reads Mehr Juden ins Kino (“more Jews to the movies”) against a black background.
Beyond JFFB’s main objective — to screen international films in Germany that explore the diversity of the Jewish experience from multiple perspectives – the festival also aims to foster a renaissance of Jewish film production within Germany.
After Jews in the arts were stripped of their citizenship, forced to flee into exile, or deported and killed by the Nazis, their absence left a creative void in Germany’s cinematic landscape that is still palpable today. Under the direction of Nicola Galliner, the Berlin-Potsdam Jewish Film Festival is a forum that serves as a springboard to inspire a new wave of Jewish expression in German cinema.
Known for his ironic Jewish humor, the artist/photographer Daniel Josefsohn, who was born to Israeli parents, uses political sarcasm to put a daring twist on subjects many wouldn’t find funny at first glance. From stunning promotional campains for the Volksbühne, one of Berlin’s most well-known theaters (where he is the creative director), to his “political perfume” that combines the world’s major religions into a single scent, Josefsohn’s creative graphics will lend the Berlin-Potsdam Jewish Film Festival an unusual flair.
His poster for the JFFB, employing his trademark yellow script (www.josefsohn.com), and his slogan “more Jews to the movies” (mehr Juden ins Kino) are intended as a hopeful appeal to advance a new trend in Germany’s thriving art scene.
Sydney writing here: I am thrilled to have been invited to the Gala Premiere of Max Raabe in Israel in the Hans Otto Theater in Potsdam.
“At the press conference after the [Max Raabe and his 12-piece Palast Orchester] ensemble’s sellout show in Bonn at the end of August, the 47-year-old bandleader was clearly moved by the fact that the journalists he was addressing were from Israel. ‘I always mention the name of the person who wrote the song we are about to perform,’ he declares. ‘Most of our favorite composers and lyric writers are Jewish, everybody [in Germany] knows that. That is the reason why I always say the names of the composers because they were forbidden from 1933 to 1945, and I don’t say anything else about the composers. That is my important duty when I perform the songs, because the songs were so fantastic. Every name has to be mentioned during the concert, and that is my only message and this is what I do on stage. When I do interviews in German, I always explain this at length.’ …Many of the were originally performed by the Comedian Harmonists, an internationally acclaimed, all-male German close harmony ensemble that performed between 1928 and 1934, and was one of the most successful musical acts in Europe before World War II.” (Jerusalem Post)
This Gala actually depletes the Jewish Film Festival’s coffers and it is seeking angels to finance the annual festival and its events. The German funds are negative about funding such a “small” event which is not “German” enough. And yet the attendance belies these rationalizations. Attended by the Mayor of Potsdam, the Israeli Ambassador to Germany and enough glitterati in Potsdam’s grand opera house-turned-cinema for one night, this event gave me a thrilling sensation…to be Jewish in Germany at this moment seems to be the natural progression of civilized society. Even though the mezuzah on my apartment door was ripped off the doorpost for the second time, my great grandparents would be so happy to see me in their own homeland of which they were always so proud, even after they left in the 19th century. Their German identity remains an animating point of discussion to this day in our family. Moreover, every time you speak to someone here in West or Eastern Europe you are likely to hear that there was a Jewish grandmother or grandfather somewhere in their family which gives rise to all sorts of stories.