Various director / artists – Kunst im Exil AKA Arts in Exile (1962-1989)

Nine short stories that together amount to a play time of 3h20m.

Presented here are nine short films that feature: film director Slatan Dudow; actor Martin Brandt; authors Erich Fried, Erich Weinert, and Arnold Zweig; photographer Walter Ballhause; cartoonist Leo Haas; and journalist Egon Erwin Kisch. Original interviews with the artists, close family members, and friends are combined with little-known historic film material. All produced in the GDR. Continue reading

Veit Helmer – Absurdistan (2008)

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“No water, no sex.” Whereas the women in Aristophanes’ classic Greek comedy Lysistrata withheld sex from their men to end a war, the women in the village of Absurdistan concoct a similar plan out of necessity in order to get their community’s water pipe fixed. However, unlike the women of Lysistrata, the results of their decision don’t end a war but rather begin one of epic proportions between the sexes complete with the usual devices of espionage, sabotage and tested loyalties. Continue reading

Doris Dörrie – Kirschblüten – Hanami aka Cherry Blossoms (2008)

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A beautiful tissue-paper piece of art that falls to shreds should you so much as blow upon it, Dorris Dörrie’s Cherry Blossoms is the kind of film that dares you to laugh at it. There are heartfelt declarations of love and elaborate avant-garde dance routines, not to mention a major plot point about a mountain appearing from behind a veil of mist. Cynics: Don’t venture within one hundred meters. Romantics: Run, don’t walk, to the theater. Everybody else: Approach with caution.

Cherry Blossoms is a sentimental work about Rudi, a stick-in-the-mud German civil servant whose life is upended upon the sudden death of his wife, Trudi, whom he realizes too late he never quite knew. Yes, tears will be shed. But since this is a German film, much of which is set in Japan, the crying will be rather circumspect, and horribly embarrassed. Continue reading

Dennis Gansel – Die Welle aka The Wave (2008) (HD)

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When Rainer Wegner, a popular high school teacher, finds himself relegated to
teaching autocracy as part of the schools project week, hes less than enthusiastic. So are his students, who greet the prospect of studying fascism yet again with apathetic grumbling: The Nazis sucked. We get it. Struck by the teenagers complacency and unwitting arrogance, Rainer devises an unorthodox experiment. But his hastily conceived lesson in social orders and the power of unity soon grows a life of its own. Continue reading

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – Das Leben der Anderen AKA The Lives of Others (2006)

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“I’m your audience,” Ulrich Mühe confesses to an actress in a bar somewhere in the middle of The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), and he means it in two ways: one, he has seen her perform on the stage but two, he is a member of the Stasi, the secret police arm of the East German government whose stated goal is “to know everything”, and he has been keeping her and her playwright boyfriend under surveillance for some time. The Lives of Others is concerned with three things: ostensibly and obviously it tackles the effects of government oppression, specifically on the lives of artists, but on a subtler level it also addresses the transformative power of art and how our ordinary lives can be interpreted as narrative. Continue reading

Werner Herzog – Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes AKA Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) (HD)

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For much of the time, the location consisted of three differently-sized rafts slowly gliding down the head-waters of the mighty Amazon river: one for the action proper, a second to set up the camera on, and a third one, dangling a few miles behind so as not to be in frame, providing basic accommodation and meals. Scorching sun, high humidity and mosquitoes galore took their toll. At one point Kinski, forever true to his reputation, insisted on the fulfilment of his contract: if no air-con room at night, no work. With this luxury about 1,000 km away, Herzog saw only one chance to save his film: at gunpoint he threatened to kill Kinski and later explain his disappearance with an unfortunate incident in the perilous waters. As we all know, Kinski kept on working. Continue reading

Matthias Glasner – Der Freie Wille AKA The Free Will (2006)

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AMG: Theo (Jürgen Vogel) has raped several women and is, after several years of committing acts of sexual violence, caught. He is committed to a psychiatric prison and, after 12 years in prison, he is released to return to normal life. Theo finds work as a printer, goes regularly to therapy, and lives in a supervised group. But Theo finds that finding a normal life isn’t all that easy. Functioning more like a wooden puppet than a person, Theo wanders through his post-prison days more like an inhibited loner with severe difficulties in his social encounters with women. In spite of overwhelming loneliness and growing depression, Theo fights returning to his old violent ways. And then a ray of hope enters Theo’s life: he gets to know Netti (Sabine Timoteo), the daughter of the domineering printing house owner. Netti mistrusts men in the same way that Theo mistrusts women. The two outsiders befriend each other and eventually fall in love. But Nettie knows nothing about Theo’s past and his problems — until one night when Theo decides that he can’t keep living a lie. Der Freie Wille tells the story of a man who is given freedom but still remains a prisoner inside. Continue reading