© Barak Shrama
© Barak Shrama

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Welcome to the 18th Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, San Francisco! Join us at the legendary Castro Theatre (January 15th–19th) and at the Goethe-Institut (January 20th–21st) to celebrate America’s leading annual showcase of recent film productions from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Since 1996, Berlin & Beyond has been a gateway for the American public to experience the universal spirit and vision of filmmakers from this global region. Dotted with red carpet premieres, the festival welcomes top films and talents of the year, from major hits, to award winners, to noteworthy discoveries of world cinema’s independent film scenes.

Courage in Motion is this year’s theme, with cinematic stories of overcoming life’s obstacles, moving bravely, embracing hope, connecting minds, finding solutions and bonding through common humanity. The velvet curtains open with Germany’s official entry to the 2014 Academy Awards, the riveting time-spanning espionage drama “Two Lives” by Georg Maas. Contemporary cinema auteurs Thomas Arslan (“Gold”), Detlev Buck (“Measuring the World” 3D) and Xavier Koller (“The Black Brothers”) take us on 19th-century journeys to unexpected discoveries. Brave stories of survival resonate in Lars-Gunnar Lotz’s “Shifting the Blame” and Oscar®-nominated director Marc Rothemund’s “The Girl with Nine Wigs”. We examine our fragile world with the documentaries “Miles & War” by Anne Thoma of rare insights into war mediation, and “More than Honey” by Oscar®-nominated director Markus Imhoof where human existence is questionable without bees.

The fascinating Youth 4 German Cinema is our new educational program featuring mentored meetings with film industry talents and the selection of films for the Festival Field Trips series that welcome students from across Northern California. The jury selected Katja von Garnier’s equestrian adventure “Windstorm” as the winning film and Hüseyin Tabak’s captivating immigrant tale “Your Beauty is Worth Nothing” as the runner-up.

Germany’s rising stars join us here in San Francisco to premiere their latest works for the first time to American audiences. Aylin Tezel presents “Breaking Horizons”, which garnered her acting awards around the world, along with her directorial-debut, “Inhale”; Christian Schwochow, whose first two films screened at previous festival editions, gives us another memorable work, “West”; and Julia von Heinz will share her cross-cultural and cross-generational film, “Hanna’s Journey”. The Castro’s run will close with Nana Neul’s introspective and supremely-memorable drama “Silent Summer”.

With deep respect and admiration, we celebrate the life and career of the late Peter Sehr with the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award in Directing, to be accepted by his wife and codirector Marie Noëlle, at the screening of their final film together, our festival Centerpiece, the epic “Ludwig II”.

We gratefully acknowledge the affirming support of our sponsors, partners and friends from near and far, whose empowering generosity makes this festival possible. Likewise, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to our hardworking and dedicated staff, volunteers, board members, and creative and technical collaborators. Special thanks to the film talents and film industry professionals for sharing their cinematic works with us.

And, of course, thank you our filmgoers and film lovers, for attending the festival year after year. We wish you an adventurous experience with cinematic memories to treasure. Vielen Dank.


Sabine Erlenwein

Sophoan Sorn
Festival Director