Film festival German Focus at The 2017 Durban International Film Festival

Durban International Film Festival Logo Still from “Goodbye Berlin” © Lago Film / Studiocanal / Mathias Botor

Thu, 13.07.2017 -
Sun, 23.07.2017

The 38th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is set to captivate audiences with a German Focus, which features ten gripping films by some of Germany’s finest directors, a masterclass by German film industry professionals, as well as networking sessions with the cream of the international film industry crop.

Curated by Alex Moussa Sawadogo, the variety of the films on the line-up is set to keep audiences enthralled. Films such as The People vs Fritz Bauer (which relates to German history after the WWII and the role of the attorney of law Fritz Bauer in confronting the state with its political shortcomings), Paula (which recounts the journey of a well-known early 20th century painter, who discovered her artistic freedom in a more traditional Germany), Goodbye Berlin (a depiction of how the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany merged into one state, taking two young children as the protagonists of a road movie through former East Germany) and Fukushima Mon Amour (which breaks the common stereotypes that surround Germans) will leave audiences with a better understanding of German history, culture and people.
The German Focus will open with a Gala screening of Goodbye Berlin at The Playhouse (Drama Theatre) on 16 July at 16.00 (tbc). The award-winning and family-friendly film was made by prominent filmmaker Fatih Akin who recently presented his last film in Cannes. Tickets for the Gala Screening are available at Computicket.
Visiting directors and actors:
Anand Batbileg (actor, Goodbye Berlin)
Doris Dörrie (Director, Fukushima Mon Amour)
Petra Epperlein (Director, Karl Marx City)
Tristan Göbel (actor, Goodbye Berlin)
Stephan Rick (Director, THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON)
Christian Schwochow (Director, Paula)
Karin Steinberger (Director, The Promise)

The German Focus at DIFF 2017 is presented by German Films, the Goethe-Institut and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in South Africa in cooperation with DIFF.
DIFF, the Goethe-Institut South Africa and Berlin International Film Festival have a decade-long partnership. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Talents Durban, which began in 2008 as a result of the cooperation between DIFF and Berlin International Film Festival’s Berlinale Talents, with the support of the Goethe-Institut and the German Embassy. Since then, 380 alumni have gone through the programme. 
Talents Durban is an annual five-day training and mentorship programme that runs at DIFF, aimed at empowering 20 emerging African writers and directors working on projects for film, television, web series and content for mobile platforms.
Furthermore, the Goethe-Institut will present New Dimensions – Virtual Reality Africa, a brand new package of four VR productions from Kenya, Ghana and Senegal. The works were co-produced with Cape Town based Electric South. To be shown at the Durban FilmMart, they allow a glimpse into the fascinating new opportunities that technology provides for visual storytelling.

About the films:
Auf Einmal / All Of A Sudden
After the party in Karsten’s apartment, everybody leaves except Anna. Admiringly, Karsten approaches this mysterious woman. How could he have known, that in a moment of weakness, his well-established life would spiral out of control and turn into a disaster? In this small provincial German town, disappointment soon fuels anger, justice hides behind hypocrisy, and evil gradually unfolds.

Das Versprechen / The Promise
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The gruesome murders of Nancy and Derek Haysom in 1985 were a media sensation. The murder conviction of their daughter Elizabeth and her German boyfriend Jens Soering sent shock waves through Bedford County. After being arrested in 1986, they have now spent over 30 years behind bars. This beautifully crafted film reveals a mismanaged, completely corrupted, judicial process.
Investigations over the past 3 years have turned up stunning evidence that was previously suppressed or deemed inadmissible. New forensic techniques have disproven evidence that was key to Soering’s original conviction. Unidentified fingerprints, evidence that points to sexual abuse, the presiding judge’s friendship with the victims, a missing FBI profile — all point to a very different story, one that is revealed in the film.

NEW The Promise International Trailer November 2016 from Marcus Vetter (Filmperspektive) on Vimeo.

Der Geilste Tag / The Most Beautiful Day
The quirky, overambitious pianist Andi (33) and the more laid back and relaxed Benno (36) have just one thing in common: They will both die soon. After some trouble at the hospice, the two of them decide to have the most awesome day before it’s too late. The first thing they need is money, which they cleverly scam, since going to prison is considering the limited amount of time out of the question. Then they set off for Africa! It will not only be a nightmare for Andi the hypochondriac, but also a huge deal for Benno, who will have to face his past for the first time in his life. The journey leads them through hazards, a number of comedic, tragic, dramatic and dangerous moments and finally to their original aspiration: The most awesome day of realising that you need to take life into your own hands to not miss out on it…

Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer / The People vs Fritz Bauer
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Germany, 1957. Attorney General Fritz Bauer receives crucial evidence on the whereabouts of SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann. The lieutenant colonel, responsible for the mass deportation of the Jews, is allegedly hiding in Buenos Aires.
Bauer, himself Jewish, has been trying to take crimes from the Third Reich to court ever since his return from Danish exile. However, with no success so far due to the fierce German determination to repress its sinister past. Because of his distrust in the German justice system, Fritz Bauer contacts the Israeli secret service Mossad, and, by doing so, commits treason. Bauer is not seeking revenge for the Holocaust – he is concerned with the German future.

Die Dunkle Seite des Mondes / The Dark Side of the Moon
Corporate lawyer, Urs Blank, is the undisputed star of his profession. He has money and the perfect wife. But the suicide of a business colleague throws him off track and leads to an attraction with Lucille and her alternative lifestyle. Seduced into experimenting with hallucinogenic mushrooms, his dark side emerges, as with merciless power, long suppressed aggressions burst out and go wild. The once civilised lawyer turns into an instinct-driven individual and erratic murderer. Deeply unsettled by the change he flees to the woods in search of an antidote but the police and his vindictive business partner are already on his tracks.

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Young doctor Fabian travels to Lisbon to win back his ex-girlfriend Doro. While the two of them are gradually getting closer again they are being haunted by their fears. Fabian's jealousy once again puts their relationship to the test…

Grüsse aus Fukushima / Fukushima, Mon Amour
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Young German woman Marie escapes to Fukushima to change her life. Working with the organisation Clowns4Help, she hopes to bring joy to 2011 nuclear disaster survivors, some still living in emergency shelters. Marie soon realises she‘s absolutely unsuited to the task of making tragedy less wearisome. But instead of running away, Marie decides to stay with cantankerous old Satomi, the last geisha of Fukushima, who of her own accord has decided to retreat back to her ruined house in the formerly radioactive Exclusion Zone. Two women who couldn‘t be more different, but who –  each in her own way – are trapped in the past and must learn to liberate themselves from guilt and the burden of memory.

Karl Marx City
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Twenty-five years after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), filmmaker Petra Epperlein returns to the proletarian Oz of her childhood to find the truth about her late father’s suicide and his rumoured Stasi past. Had he been an informant for the secret police? Was her childhood an elaborate fiction? As she looks for answers in the Stasi’s extensive archives, she pulls back the curtain of her own nostalgia and enters the parallel world of the security state, seeing her former life through the lens of the oppressor. Reconstructing everyday GDR life through declassified Stasi surveillance footage, the past plays like dystopian science fiction, providing a chilling backdrop to interrogate the apparatus of control and the meaning of truth in a society where every action and thought was suspect.

Karl Marx City (Official US Trailer) from BOND/360 on Vimeo.

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Painting is an unacceptable vocation for a woman in provincial Germany in the year 1900, but budding artist Paula Becker is determined to make her own rules. The exuberant 24-year-old woman rejects the conventional and explores her unique style. She flourishes in the countryside art community of Worpswede, where she develops friendships with artist Clara Westhoff and poet Rainer Maria Rilke. By marrying painter Otto Modersohn, she hopes to find a creative soulmate. He allows her to continue painting while assuming her duties as a good wife. Five years of domesticity take its toll on Paula’s spirit, and she travels alone to modern Paris, where she studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and soon begins a romantic affair. Headstrong Paula is unstoppable: she embarks on a period that will become her most compelling; a long-awaited period of creative fulfilment and self-realization...

Tschick / Goodbye Berlin
While his mother is in rehab and his father is on a ‘business trip‘ with his assistant, 14-year-old outsider Maik is spending the summer holidays bored and alone at his parents’ villa when rebellious teenager Tschick appears. Tschick, a Russian immigrant and an outcast, steals a car and decides to set off on a journey away from Berlin with Maik tagging along for the ride. So begins a wild adventure where the two experience the trip of a lifetime and share a summer that they will never forget.