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40 Jahre Goethe-Institut Neuseeland
Richard Millington

© Richard Millington

During my first year teaching German at Vic in 2006, my colleague Anke Szczepanski suggested that we get the students in the third-year language class we were co-teaching to make short films that they could enter in the Goethe-Institut’s inaugural Kurzfilmfest – Short Film Competition for Students of German in New Zealand. And so we did. And it was a big success.

That year one of our teams of filmmakers placed first in the tertiary category, and that turned out to be the start of a winning streak that lasted for the next six years – pretty much as long as Anke and I were co-teaching that course. The prizegiving was always a festive occasion – the Institut booked out either the Paramount, the Embassy or Nga Taonga, the auditorium was full of students from schools and universities from round the country, and everyone cheered and clapped as we watched the prizewinning films from the different age-group categories on the big screen. All those kids (and young adults!) speaking German, using it, playing with it. A heartening experience for German teachers.

The film I’ve chosen to remember on this occasion was the winning entry in the tertiary category in 2007. It was made by Andrew Jackson, Jacqui Barber, Michael Langdon and Nic Jacobs. The theme that year (“Es ist was im Busch”) was inspired by the 150th anniversary of the birth of great German children’s writer Wilhelm Busch. Andrew took the similarity between Busch’s name and that of the sitting US president as the basis for political satire, and then came up with a script in Busch’s favourite verse form, rhyming couplets – all in German! The sets included my own house in Island Bay, and look out for the brilliant cameo by my dog Kuri.

I’m grateful to the Goethe-Institut for this opportunity to dust off this Meisterwerk of student filmmaking. And thanks also for all the other stuff you do to support learners and teachers of German in Aotearoa/New Zealand!