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German Film Fest Wrap-Up

Author: Daniel Crichton-Rouse
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
3D's Daniel Crichton-Rouse rounds up the 2008 Audi Festival of German Films.

CHERRY BLOSSOMS - HANAMI
Hanami is a hypnotic and visually stunning film, the saddest I have ever seen and one of the most beautiful cinematic works released in years. The film revolves around an elderly German couple, Trudi and Rudi - the similar Christian names a reflection of their close bond - who live in a small, mountainous rural village. Trudi knows her husband has a terminal illness but she doesn't tell him, or anyone else, instead suggesting the two visit their children and go on vacation. When Trudi unexpectedly dies, Rudi travels to Japan to visit their son and learn more about a culture his wife loved dearly. As Rudi spends time in this foreign country, he sparks a friendship with a homeless street performer. With a truly tragic, but poignant, ending, Hanami will leave you firmly in your seat long after the credits roll.

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN

One of the blockbuster screenings at this year's festival, The Edge of Heaven comes to Australia after being in competition at Cannes last year. This story, frequently compared to 2006's Babel, revolves around a young Turkish/German college professor, whose father becomes involved with a Turkish prostitute. After tragedy occurs, the professor travels to Turkey to find his father's lover's daughter. The Edge of Heaven is a beautiful film told in three parts - three chapters - two of which happen simultaneously. Brilliant scriptwriting drives this film and the actors' performances shine. Non-lineal film making at its peak.

AND ALONG COME TOURISTS
This is a particularly striking film about a young German who opts for community service over compulsory military service and chooses to work near Auschwitz for a year. And Along Come Tourists is a portrait of the day-to-day life of the prison town, and the people involved with the massive tourism trade. A model coming-of-age film told in a refreshing manner, it traverses the themes of guilt, consequence and identity in a poignant, introverted manner.

THE CALLING GAME
This was the strangest film I watched. A lady in her early 30s, who works by day in a Laundromat, makes phone calls to strangers pretending to be a sick young girl in order to escape her mundane life. However, when she decides to kill her character, stages a funeral and invites her phone friends, it sets off a chain of events that provide some fairly psychological thrills. On paper, The Calling Game sounds interesting but the is she/isn't she- lesbian confusion and the fact the leading lady is annoying distracts from what could have been a great thriller. In fact, I am pulling the word 'thriller' from the press release. I would've used 'drama' and left it at that.

THE COUNTERFEITERS
The big wig from the 2008 Audi Festival of German Films, The Counterfeiters picked up Best Foreign Language Film at the 2008 Academy Awards. Moody, complex but not over-bearing, this is the story of Operation Bernhard (a Nazi project to flood England's economy with false banknotes) through the eyes of a Jewish prisoner, captured for counterfeiting. The film excels in its equal parts Great Escape style charm and harsh, difficult to watch realism of concentration camp life. Lavish cinematography, brilliant script and captivating characters, The Counterfeiters is a must on you 'films to see' list this year.

The Edge of Heaven and The Counterfeiters are in cinemas now. For more information on German cinema visit german-films.de.

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