In the hustle and bustle of the big city
Welcome! We are presenting twelve selected films, mostly current newcomers from different genres, in a first joint production of eight Goethe-Instituts from Southeast Asia. The event takes place from February 18 to March 31, 2022. We are celebrating not only the films but also how they are screened: all films are available online in the entire region and subtitled in four national languages (Indonesian, Thai, Burmese, and Vietnamese) plus English. We hope this offer has an impact on the rural regions of Southeast Asia beyond the capitals, metropolises and multiplex cinemas typically serving as festival venues. And yet, our film selection focusses on the city as a cinematic subject.
In the 1920s the authors Erich Kästner and Alfred Döblin turned their attention to the big city. Shortly before the Nazis seized power, Kästner published Fabian and Döblin published Berlin Alexanderplatz, both unsurpassed portraits of the metropolis of Berlin, with all its temptations and seductions, its lights and chasms. The special attitude to life deriving from this epoch of classical modernism has become the focus of media and artistic creators in Germany in recent years (and before) and is often visualized with references to the aesthetics of the New Objectivity.
Kästner and Döblin were influential literary figures shaping this style, and their major works are now available in new film adaptations: German director Dominik Graf took on Fabian in 2021, while director Burhan Qurbani relocated history to today’s Berlin in the 2020 film adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz. We are particularly pleased to be able to present these two award-winning current films for the first time in Southeast Asia as part of the Cinema Festival program (in Vietnam we are showing the films Ökozid and Draw a Line instead of Berlin Alexanderplatz). Reflecting on life in the metropolis is likely to have a very special relevance in the countries of Southeast Asia, which are characterized by urban sprawl. But thanks to online availability of the festival in rural regions, the films will also reach an interested audience able to appreciate the critical reflection from a safe distance.
As the selection of these two films reveals, this year we have set an overall focus on virtuoso literary adaptations. Die Vermessung der Welt directed by Detlev Buck, for example, portrays the life of the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauß and the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt based on a literary novel by Daniel Kehlmann (2005). And in the film adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s Schachnovelle directed by Phillip Stölzl we meet the actor Albrecht Schuch, the tormentor of the notary Joseph Bartok, who is in solitary confinement and played by Oliver Masucci. We already know Schuch as Reinhold in Berlin Alexanderplatz and as Stephan Labude in Fabian. Masucci won the German Film Prize in 2021 for the role of the pioneering director Rainer Werner Fassbinder in the biopic Enfant terrible, a film that we of course also selected for the program.
With Whisky und Wodka we added a tragicomedy to the program and a grandiose ensemble of actors. This somewhat older film by Andreas Dresen (2009) may remind you of a scene or two in Enfant terrible.
Curveball – Wir machen die Wahrheit directed by Johannes Naber seemed to us to be a particularly successful political satire we think you will enjoy, as is the melodrama Undine by Christian Petzold and the dark thriller Freies Land by Christian Alvart—all three of which will surely expand your view of Germany.
Finally, we have included three outstanding documentaries in the program that illustrate the entire range of narrative possibilities of this genre: The Cleaners – Im Schatten der Netzwelt by Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck, Dear Future Children by Franz Böhm, and Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse by Maria Speth, a film that won the Jury Award at the 71st Berlinale 2021.
We wish you moving moments!