on the 2019 German Film Festival
It's June, and the German Film Festival has hit Palace Cinema across the country once again. Now in its second year, the German Film Festival brings all the glitz and glam from Berlinale to the shining shores of Australia.
We sat down with it's festival spokesperson, Bettina Kinski, to talk about the festival, German film, Bauhaus, and much more.
Jacob: Tell us a little bit about your role with the festival.
Bettina: I am the national coordinator of the German Film Festival, working for Palace Cinemas. I’m doing the coordinator role for the second time; this is only Palace Cinemas second time producing this festival. I was always working in the film industry; back in Germany I worked in production, and I was producing documentary and picture series for national and international broadcasters.
I came to Australia three and a half years ago, so I’m kind of still new. I fell in love with Melbourne and decided to stay there, and then I meet the director of Palace Cinemas and Palace Cinemas decided to take on the German Film Festival. It was really a case of perfect time and perfect place.
Jacob: What sort of improvements do you think you’ve made from last year?
Bettina: Firstly, we have extended the film festival for two weeks in every city and have included more cities. This year we brought the festival to Perth and Byron Bay, and we have actually doubled the amount of cinemas participating. Last year we only had 5 cities and 7 cinemas and this year we have 7 cities and 15 cinemas. Plus we have a handful more feature films; so to sum it up more chances to see German films!
Jacob: How have you found the reaction so far?
Bettina: We opened the festival last week in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and this week we’ve opened it up in Perth, Adelaide, Byron Bay and Brisbane. So far, the opening night film, Balloon has been well received, everyone has really enjoyed it and likes the program. I believe we have a strong film program this year; so far so good.
Jacob: What do you think is different or interesting about German film?
Bettina: Films always reflect the society they are produced in. What makes German film different is pretty easy; it is that German film is about German culture, German history, so you can even learn about these things. Our most important theme this year is of course that we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the wall, and this is why we have a special program tear down the walls, where we showcase feature films that are about the GDR and about life there. We picked our opening film for that reason. Balloon is a film about to two eastern German families who try and escape to the West in a hot air balloon during the cold war. I think it's the most daring escape of its kind. There were so many people who tried to cross the border and escape to the West and so many people who got killed in the end. But that is our most recent history, and we still deal with that as, people in Germany still consider themselves as East German or West German. The German film basically deals with its own history and culture.
Jacob: What about events for the German community during the Festival?
Bettina: We do have events! And of course the events are for everyone, it’s not just an event for the German community. Festivals are in general a place to build a community to meet one another, to relate with one another, to create space for culture identity, to share knowledge, to share an interest in things. We have special events, like this Saturday at Palace James Street, we have a special presentation of the film Bauhaus Spirit: 100 years of Bauhaus. We’re also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus.
Jacob: What is Bauhaus?
Bettina: It’s funny, every German knows what Bauhaus is! Bauhaus was a school for artists, designers and architects, that was founded in 1919 by the German architect Walter Gropius. Walter Gropius wanted to bridge the gap between fine arts and crafts. It became a movement, an experimental field; it is actually a cultural export, and there were a number of designers who were apart of these movements. Bauhaus stands for iconic and functional design, and this is why we’re screening the documentary. So anyone who wants to learn about Bauhaus we encourage to attend this screening.
Then we have another special screening for the film Mack the Knife: Brecht’s Threepenny. I’m not too sure how familiar you are with Bertolt Brecht, one of our most important intellectual playwrights during the republic, but he wrote the threepenny opera. This film is multilayered. In 1928 he brought us this theatre play and it was a huge success and the idea came up to adapt the theatre play to film. Brecht had clear visions about this film but the producer had different vision for the film and this resulted in a fierce battle between the two and ended in a court case lost by Brecht. The special event for this film will include live music and cocktails.
Jacob: What do you hope people take away from the German Film Festival?
Bettina: Basically, I want them to enjoy the festival and the films, enjoy themselves and maybe if they want to learn about us Germans. Hopefully they can learn more about why we are the way we are, and about our openness, and maybe learn about us and our culture. But then again not necessarily - they can just enjoy our films, and I think we have an enjoyable program for that!
The German Film Festival is playing at Palace Cinemas in May and June.
For more information, and to explore the rest of the amazing German Film Festival Program, click the banner below.