Fri, Jun 26, 2009 - Page 16 News List

Taipei Film Festival shines the spotlight on Berlin

This year’s Taipei Film Festival celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with a program that focuses on the German capital’s rich history



This year’s Taipei Film Festival (台北電影節) celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an 18-day program that focuses on the rich history of Germany’s capital city.

The festival, founded in 1998, is an important showcase for local productions, which for the most part miss out on the Hong Kong- and China-dominated Golden Horse Awards (金馬獎). This year 141 films are being screened, from feature films and documentaries to animations and shorts.

Each year the festival showcases films from a different country. This year it takes viewers on a cinematic journey through the history of Berlin from the 1930s to the present day.

Among the earlier films are Slatan Dudow’s Current Problems: How the Berlin Worker Lives (1930). Massive unemployment, hyperinflation and other economic problems that contributed to the collapse of the Weimar Republic are addressed in this documentary, as well as in Dudow’s debut feature film Kuhle Wampe: To Whom Does the World Belong? (1931), which was scripted by left-wing playwright and theater director Bertolt Brecht. Both works are known as pioneering proletarian films. Also from this period is future Hollywood director Billy Wilder’s People on Sunday (1929), which paints a portrait of everyday life in Berlin and is among the earliest examples of independent cinema in Germany.

Covering the early post-war years is The Murderers Are Among Us (1946), the first and greatest of the Trummerfilme, or “rubble films,” bleak works shot literally in the rubble of Germany’s war-ravaged cities. Its director, Wolfgang Staudte, and art director, Otto Hunte, both worked on Jud Suss, the most notorious anti-Semitic movie made in Nazi Germany.


WHAT: 11th Taipei Film Festival (2009 台北電影節)

WHEN: Today to July 12

WHERE: Taipei Zhongshan Hall (台北市中山堂), 98, Yanping S Rd, Taipei City (台北市延平南路98號) and Taipei Shin Kong Cineplex (台北新光影城), 4F, 36, Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路36號4樓)

ADMISSION: NT$120 for weekday matinee screenings (before 6pm); NT$200 for weeknight and weekend screenings


East German productions include the teen-centered romance flick Hot Summer (1968); After Winter Comes Spring (1988), a film about a railway journey that explores the lives of women of different ages, social statuses and cultural backgrounds; and Coming Out (1989), East Germany’s first and only gay movie.

Homosexuality is a popular theme among local film festivalgoers, and this year’s program also features Germany’s first homosexual movie, Girls in Uniform (1931), which was banned during the Third Reich; and Aimee and Jaguar (1999), a love story between a housewife and a Jewish woman involved in a resistance organization.

Moving on to contemporary times, Germany 09 (2009) is a collective effort by 13 well-known directors musing on current social and political issues. The film is a direct offspring of Germany in Autumn (1978), a collage of shorts by top filmmakers including Volker Schlondorff and Rainer Werner Fassbinder that offered critical perspectives on Red Army Faction terrorism in the 1970s.

Several filmmakers are highlighted in the German segment. In the semi-autobiographical The All-Round Reduced Personality — Outtakes (1977), which blends documentary with fiction, pioneering feminist director Helke Sander asks how a single mother could pursue her artistic ambitions, participate in social causes, and put bread on the table, all at the same time. Sander’s two-part documentary Liberators Take Liberties (1991 and 1992) examines the rape and assault of an estimated 100,000 German women by Red Army soldiers during their advance on Berlin in 1945.

Helma Sanders-Brahms, German’s best-known female director and a prominent figure in New German Cinema, will visit Taipei to screen her 1979 masterpiece, Germany, Pale Mother, as well as Beloved Clara (2008).

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