Tag Archives: Berlinale

Where the Germans Speak Gibberish: A Comic Take on the Immigrant Experience

Most German films about immigration take a grittily realistic approach, focusing on urban tension and social problems. But one filmmaking duo of Turkish-German sisters decided to use humor to tell the story of a guest-worker family. SPIEGEL ONLINE talked to Yasemin and Nesrin Samdereli about their comedy “Almanya.”

When the Samdereli sisters started working on their script for their movie “Almanya” eight years ago, they had little inkling that its premiere at the 2011 Berlin International Film Festival would come hot on the heels of a heated debate about integration in Germany. They simply wanted to tell a story about a Turkish-German family that differed from the usual gritty dramas about immigration.

“It is not that we wanted to make this movie because of the political situation,” director Yasemin Samdereli told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Instead, she says, they just wanted to tell a story about an immigrant family, one that bears some autobiographical similarities with their own lives. The result is a funny, at times sentimental, tearjerker that focuses on the comical misunderstandings between cultures rather than the fraught challenges of a multi-ethnic society.

Her younger sister Nesrin, the film’s screenwriter, explains how they wanted to show the reality of Turkish guest workers coming to Germany in the 1960s from a new perspective. “The story we wanted to tell hasn’t been told so far, so we thought we should try it another way.”

“We want people to see each other as human beings and just to see the family in the movie as a normal family that could be anywhere in the world,” Yasemin says, pointing out that the image of Turkish-Germans is currently quite negative. For example, they wanted to show that “not every Turkish father loses it because his daughter or granddaughter does things that he might not agree with.” Continue reading

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Germany’s Latest Nazi Drama: New ‘Jud Süss’ Flops as Faustian Tragedy

“Jud Süss — Rise and Fall” tells the story of one man’s Faustian pact with the Hitler regime. The film shows Ferdinand Marian as a tragic figure who gained and then lost everything after starring in Goebbels’ pet project. But his biographer has berated the filmmakers for deviating from history and many critics have been scathing.

“Finally an anti-Semitic film of the kind we could only wish for,” wrote Josef Goebbels in his diary on Aug. 18, 1940. He had just seen the first screening of his pet project “Jud Süss” with Ferdinand Marian playing the lead role in the now infamous Nazi propaganda film. The Austrian actor’s Faustian pact with the Hitler regime is the focus of a new star-studded German film “Jud Süss — Rise and Fall” which had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on Thursday night.

The eagerly anticipiated film, which makes more than a nod or two to Istvan Szabo’s 1981 film “Mephisto,” is the latest German-produced film to deal with the Third Reich. Following in the footsteps of films such as “Downfall” and “A Woman in Berlin,” the filmmakers will be hoping to emulate those films’ international success. However, its reception at the press screening on Thursday was marked more by boos than clapping and many reviews so far have been scathing. Even before the premiere it had already created something of a controversy, with Marian’s biographer berating the filmmakers for taking liberties with the true story. Continue reading

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Berlinale Retrospective Curator David Thomson ‘Film Is Built Upon Its Own History’

Renowned film critic David Thomson was faced with the daunting task of curating the Berlin Film Festival’s 60th anniversary Retrospective section. He tells SPIEGEL ONLINE how he made the almost impossible selection, why watching movies on the big screen is so important and reveals why he had never visited Berlin before.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Berlin International Film Festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2010. You were given the task of curating this year’s Retrospective section, which is intended to highlight the most notable films from the festival’s history. But how do you go about choosing almost 40 films from 60 years of the Berlinale?

David Thomson: It seems impossible and absurd to pick 35 or 40 films out of so many. But then you say to yourself: Well, let’s make it fun. I wanted to show what a lively, active festival this had been over a long period. And I wanted to use the span of this festival to show some tendencies in film history, the changes there have been. The emergence of Japanese film, Chinese film, the French New Wave — you have a lot of the big things that happened. Continue reading

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Back to the Future in Berlin: Restored ‘Metropolis’ Comes Home

After 83 years, Fritz Lang’s Sci-Fi classic “Metropolis” has returned to Berlin in its full glory. On Friday night 2,000 fans braved the snowy weather to watch the restored classic at the Brandenburg Gate. It took restorers a year to repair the damage to the newly discovered scenes. They say the original film was much more complex and interesting than just a sci-fi cult classic.

For over eight decades it was just a tantalizing El Dorado for film historians, but on Friday night a restored version of “Metropolis,” Fritz Lang’s silent masterpiece, returned to Berlin. Over 2,000 people turned up on a snowy night in Berlin to watch the film projected onto a screen in front of the Brandenburg Gate, with an orchestra performing the original score in a simultaneous broadcast at a theater across town.

The event was the highlight of this year’s Berlin Film Festival, marking the return of one of Germany’s most influential films to the city where it made its debut 83 years ago. When the sci-fi classic was first shown in 1927 there was huge anticipation about what was then the most expensive German film ever made. But the 150 minutes of idealism and dystopia were a flop with critics and the public alike, despite the ground-breaking techniques and futuristic vision.

Once the US distributors got their hands on “Metropolis” they lobbed off a quarter of the film, making it all but incomprehensible in the process. While that did little to redeem it at the box office in the 1920s, the film went on to become an icon of German cinema and a reference point for many future sci-fi films from “Blade Runner” to “The Fifth Element.” Continue reading

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60 Years of Berlinale: A Film Festival of Propaganda, Stars and Scandal

The Berlin International Film Festival was a product of the Cold War. The US military administration wanted to bring a touch of glamour to a West Berlin that had survived the Soviet blockade. Since then, the festival has gained a reputation for championing political, provocative movies, and has been no stranger to scandal.

When the Oscar Martay, the film officer with the US military administration in Berlin, conceived of the idea of an international film festival 60 years ago, the Cold War was at its peak and much of the destroyed city was still in rubble.

The first Berlin International Film Festival in 1951 was designed to serve as a propaganda tool for the Allies just two years after the end of the Soviet blockade of West Berlin. The divided city marked the front line of the conflict with Soviet Russia and its satellite states in Eastern Europe and the US officials were determined to introduce a bit of glamour to the sector of the city they controlled. The festival was to be a “showcase of the free world.” Continue reading

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