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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

NEW GERMAN CINEMA AT DIFF (article first published : 2008-07-24)

Cinema in all its diversity will once again be celebrated at the 29th Durban International Film Festival which runs from July 23 to August 3. Featuring more than 200 films from more than 95 countries, spread over more than 300 screenings at 26 venues across the city, the festival will bring together established masters of cinema and innovative new talents from around the world.

With German Cinema experiencing a great renaissance in recent years, 2008 provides the perfect opportunity for the Durban International Film Festival to focus on excellent new films from this thriving filmmaking country. The timing is especially appropriate as the Durban International Film Festival this year also hosts the inaugural Talent Campus Durban, in cooperation with the Berlinale Talent Campus which is held each year during the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.

The German films in the selection represent a stunning mix of new and established voices. The great German filmmaker, Doris Dorrie returns with the charming and elegant Cherry Blossoms – Hanami (Kirschbluten – Hanami), which poetically follows a grieving widower on his journey to Japan where he finds a new understanding of both his late wife and himself.

Perhaps the most striking talent in German cinema today, and a director who has been at the forefront of its renaissance, Fatih Akin is represented by his new film The Edge Of Heaven (Auf Der Anderen Seite), an ambitious and brilliantly-acted drama which looks at three parents and three children, caught up in a sequence of events both tragic and heartening.

Directors whose names may yet be unfamiliar to South African audiences are Brigitte Maria Bertele, Niels Laupert and Robert Thalheim. This should change soon, for all three are young filmmakers who have made astounding films.

Bertele will attend the festival to present A Hero’s Welcome (Nacht Vor Augen), a remarkably precise examination of the effect of the war in Afghanistan on a young German soldier. Thalheim’s much-lauded And Along Come Tourists (Am Ende Kommen Touristen) is a delicate look at heavy subject matter. A young German opts for civil service in Auschwitz and there meets an ageing camp survivor who never left, and a beautiful Polish girl who offers some affection in the face of much antagonism. So accomplished and confident is Niels Laupert’s debut Seven Days Sunday ( Sieben Tage Sonntag) that it will come as a big surprise that this was his graduation film from film school. It sensitively documents a random murder by a couple of disaffected teens who live on a German council estate.

The New German Cinema focus is supported by the Germany Embassy in South Africa, the Goethe Institute, the Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin, and German Films. Programme booklets with the full screening schedule and synopses of all the films are available free at cinemas, Computicket, and other outlets. Full festival details can also be found on www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or by calling 031 260 2506 or 031 260 1650.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) the Durban International Film Festival is funded by National Film & Video Foundation, SABC, HIVOS, Royal Netherlands Embassy, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Stichting Doen, the German Embassy in South Africa, Goethe Institute of South Africa, Industrial Development Corporation, and the City of Durban, with valued support from a range of other partners.




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