Last week I did something I hadn’t for the past 17 years:
I went to a small town in northern Bavaria to see quite a lot of german or international movie premieres (in fact 18 long feature films, 2 one hour features plus 8 shortfilms during the 4 days of my stay) at the 49th international “Hofer Filmtage”. I was a regular attendant there from 1988 to 1997 while I was still working at my brother-in-laws cinemas, but since then I went on a hiatus.
So while I was – in a way – going back in time there, meeting a lot of people from the past, it was actually the day Marty McFly returns “back to the future” … pretty funny coincidence – if you believe in coincidences, that is 😉
Anyway – I’d like to give a quick review of what I’ve seen there – have fun!
Day 1 – october 20:
On the opening eve of the festival traditionally a new german movie is shown. This year it was “One Breath” (Ein Atem) from Christian Zübert. The film just had its international premiere at TIFF (Toronto int. film festival) and I don’t know, how successfull it was there, but over here the reception was not really enthusiastic. It was not the actors fault, but the story of two woman (one from Germany and the other from Greece) that obviously should’ve reflected the economical crisis between the two states, was sadly way over-the-top.
Day 2 – october 21:
Every year there is a retrospective – this year the festival had invited London cult director Christopher Petit, who’s first feature film “Radio On” was shown at Hof back in 1979.
So obviously I had to go and watch this one and also another called “Chinese Boxes” featuring Robbie Coltrane and Gottfried John, shot in Berlin in 1984. The director attended every screening and willingly answered lots of questions from the audience with just that wonderful deadpan understatement attitude only a Brit can pull off. Like: “The film was shot between London and Bristol on Ilford (the negative material) and Guinness.” about “Radio On”. This film is actually more like a really strange black and white video clip for early music from David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Devo, Ian Dury, Lene Lovich and the like also featuring an appearance from Sting (who wasn’t famous when they shot the film):
Later on I saw a wonderful documentary about famous pianist David Helfgott “Hello I’m David!”. I’d seen Scott Hicks film “Shine” which got Geoffrey Rush an Oscar for his performance as David about 20 years ago in Hof, too, so I was looking forward to some information about the real David Helfgott and I was not disappointed! The film shows really fantastic concert appearances as well as his private relationship with his wife Gillian (who actually is an astrologer – and she talked a bit about what was going on in her life, before she met David, that was really interesting for me).
A quite funny movie was “Internet Junkie” the first long feature film from Israeli director Alexander Katzowicz. Shot in Argentina, Mexiko and Israel and (at least at the festival) shown in spanish, english, hebrew with english subtitles. To summon this up without disclosing too much you just might say “Sex, Pugs & Internet” 😉
The last film I watched on that 2nd day was “Vincent n’a pas d’ecailles” (which means: Vincent hasn’t got fish scales). A nice french boy-meets-girl story with a little twist: as the boy in question develops super-powers once he gets wet 😉
Day 3 – october 22:
The day started with two one hour long diploma works from students of two different german film academies which were both pretty good:
“Henry” a sort of “Amadeus” set in a catholic boys music boarding school and “Zweite Hand” (Second Hand) about a twin, that takes the place of her sister who’d died under mysterious circumstances – not her best idea, as it quickly turns out …
Next I indulged in my passion for argentine tango: “Ein letzter Tango” (Our last Tango) tells the tale of the most famous Tango-couple of all times: Maria Nieves and Juan Copes and their love-hate-relationship. Historical filmclips and recent interviews with both of them, as well as their story re-told by young Tango dancers (amongst others, famous Pablo Veron) create a wonderful film – a must see for Tango fans! Here is a link to the trailer:
Another german first feature film from Arne Körner “The Bicycle” also told a difficult love story about a young couple who wants to put their staggering relationship back on track by visiting Paris. A song from the film stuck with me for quite some time:
Because I studied architecture, the name “Eileen Gray” matters to me, but lot of people only associate the famous “adjustable table” to her. That this is a grave mistake, because she did so much more, becomes clear after watching Marco Orsini’s great documentary about this really remarkable woman – designer & architect “Gray Matters”
The late night feature that day was a really funny german crime drama from Maximilian Buck – called “Trash Detective” and announced as “the next best thing to Fargo” 😉 In a small village, Susi, the pretty Miss-Southern-Germany-to-be vanishes. Nobody believes village hobo Uwe, when he says that he saw her dead body and lots of blood in a green car somewhere in the woods while walking home drunk at night. So Uwe is trying to solve the crime by himself … with hilarious and sometimes rather painful consequences for him.
Day 4 – october 23:
Among the documentaries that were shown this year was a great number of music films. I’ve already mentioned the two about Helfgott and Tango and on this 4th day I saw three more:
Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog” a homage to her rat terrier Lolabelle and a story about love and death accompanied by her somewhat signature “sound-carpet” – dedicated to her late husband Lou Reed.
German Jörg Steineck spent 10 years with various musicians from Coachella Valley to make “Lo Sound Desert” a powerful portrait of Californias alternative punk rock scene.
And american director Amy Berg spent an almost equal amount of time to put together original footage and recent interviews for her intense portrait of Janis Joplin: “Janis: Little Girl Blue”. The “Mercedes Benz” song used in the trailer is actually only used in the trailer – as the film tells Janis’ story from the beginning and this song was recorded only 3 days prior her death on october 4, 1970.
Another remarkable film – dealing with the problem of men abusing women in indian society – was “Angry Indian Godesses” from Pan Nalin. It doesn’t have the power of Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” but regarding the situation in India, I think it is an important and overdue “Bollywood”-take on these issues.
Because there always is one … here is the one movie I walked out after an hour “8 Seconds” (8 Sekunden – ein Augenblick Unendlichkeit) from Ömer Faruk Sorak. It tries to tell the (true) story of a very imaginative turkish girl growing up in Berlin. I really couldn’t bear the mixture between her surreal dreams and the rest of the plot slowly transforming into a rather trivial german comedy. Nevertheless, here’s the trailer:
Day 5 – october 24:
My last day brought another nice french comedy about a man in a midlife crisis, Bruno Podalydes “Comme un avion” (Like a plane / Nur fliegen ist schöner).
And a hilarious german movie about the strange events occuring at an East Berlin police station a year before the fall of the wall: Bernd Michael Lades’ “Das Geständnis”.
Sadly there’s no trailer available for this one – it was one of my favorites 🙂
The last film I saw was John Crowleys “Brooklyn”. Eilis, a young girl from Ireland emigrates alone to the U.S.A. in the beginning of the 1950s. The film then tells his boy-meets-girl story with some drama and a happy end. Nothing special, but beautifully shot and with a rather taking leading actress (Saoirse Ronan). So, in the end this one was “one for the heart” – works for me 😉