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German Film Festival 2019
Kino for Kids: Big Stories for Small Viewers

Little Miss Dolittle.
'Little Miss Dolittle'. | © German Film Festival

Every film festival offers a two-way transaction. For the audience, it’s a chance to watch the latest and greatest movies available, ranging beyond those headed to the multiplex. For the festival, it’s an opportunity to showcase its carefully curated titles to the world. However, the best cinematic celebrations take the latter mission not only seriously, but to the broadest extent possible — including to the next generation.

By Sarah Ward

Berlinale, Germany’s centrepiece film event, makes a concerted effort to open up the festival-going experience to younger viewers via its Generation strands — and it’s in this spirit that Australia’s German Film Festival follows. As it did last year, the 2019 program includes a specific line-up for children, featuring six German-language films that are accessible to cinephiles-in-waiting.
 
From the sophomore Kino for Kids line-up, here are three films to look out for.

GOODBYE BERLIN

Fatih Akin’s filmic resume is nothing if not eclectic, ranging from the visceral dramas of 2004 Golden Bear winner Head On, to the liveliness of the chef-oriented Soul Kitchen, to the western-leaning emotional epic of his Armenian genocide drama, The Cut. His past two films have continued the trend, with 2017’s exploration of grief, terrorism and justice in In the Fade lifted by Diane Kruger’s stunning performance, and this year’s The Golden Glove telling the tale of serial killer Fritz Honka and proving one of the most despised films of the Berlinale. And yet, on his resume also sits adolescent road-trip comedy Goodbye Berlin.
'Goodbye Berlin'. 'Goodbye Berlin'. | © German Film Festival
Adapting Wolfgang Herrndorf’s bestselling novel Tschick, Akin is firmly in coming-of-age territory as 14-year-olds Maik (Tristan Göbel) and Tschick (Anand Batbilek Chuluunbaatar) come together despite their different backgrounds, steal a car and take to the road throughout East Germany. The boys’ rebellious streak doesn’t extend to the movie’s narrative, emotional arc and inevitable life lessons; however Akin’s filmmaking prowess ensures that it’s always a lively, impressively acted and memorably shot affair. 

LITTLE MISS DOLITTLE

Nearly a century after Hugh Lofting’s The Story of Doctor Dolittle was first published, more than 50 years since its first big-screen musical adaptation, and two decades after the Eddie Murphy-led version, the famous name and the concept of communing with animals comes to Little Miss Dolittle. This won’t be the last spin on the overall concept, with a Robert Downey Jr-starring take long in the works, but the tale’s basic premise has always been well-suited to children.

Young viewers are solely the target market for this upbeat, hijinks-laden affair, which sees 11-year-old Liliane’s (Malu Leicher) special ability both a source of trouble and a potential saviour. Filmmaker Joachim Masannek has a pedigree in all-ages features, including in the Die Wilden Kerle and V8 series, which shows as Lilli teams up with her new classmate Jess (Aaron Kissiov) to save an elephant kidnapped from the local zoo.

MOUNTAIN MIRACLE — AN UNEXPECTED FRIENDSHIP

Earning a special mention from the Generation Kplus at 2017’s Berlinale, Mountain Miracle treks into familiar territory, turning an illness-focused storyline into an adventure. But what it lacks in surprises, it endeavours to counter with the spirit of its protagonist. Strong-willed to the point of stubbornness, Amelie (Mia Kasalo) wants nothing more than an ordinary existence; however the 13-year-old’s debilitating asthma gets in the way. Then, following her latest attack, she absconds from a mountainside clinic in the Italian Alps.
'Mountain Miracle'. 'Mountain Miracle'. | © German Film Festival
There’s a sensitivity to Mountain Miracle that rings true, not only for younger viewers faced with health struggles, but for anyone who has even felt let down by forces — and sicknesses — beyond their control. Also assisting director Tobias Wiemann is the feature’s scenic surroundings, as well as the spark provided by its young performers, including Samuel Girardi as the local boy who assists Amelie on her quest.

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