Harald Braun – Zwischen gestern und morgen AKA Between yesterday and tomorrow (1947)

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A group of people gathers back in the post-war ruins of a luxurious Munich hotel they inhabited at one point or another years before; each trying to cope with the tragic consequences of the war and their own actions.

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Unexpectedly sensitive movie, structured in a series of flashbacks from different points-of-view, about the destinies of a series of residents of a large hotel in Nazi Germany and immediately after 1945. This is much less romantic than what Hollywood would have produced on the same subject, but the character of Nelly, the Jewish actress who’s had to divorce her stage star non-Jewish husband, is extremely well-drawn and memorable in her dignity and elegance. Well-worth seeing. Why did German cinema vanish soon after this movie was made? What became of good directors like Braun? (imdb) Continue reading

Rupert and Ulrike Pöschl – Vimbuza Chilopa (1991)

“Shows different healing ceremonies among the Tumbuka of Malawi, who attribute illness (vimbuza) to spirit possession. Documents nightlong exorcism rituals of singing, clapping, and drumming during a full moon, culminating in an animal sacrifice (chilopa) at dawn. Portrays the interaction of patients, healers, and village community, and includes an interview with a patient” Continue reading

Andres Veiel – Wer wenn nicht wir AKA If Not Us, Who? (2011)

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West Germany in the early 1960s. The country is quiet – for the time being. Bernward Vesper takes up his studies in Tübingen where he is attending Walter Jens’ seminar on rhetoric. Bernward wants to be a writer and spends his nights bashing the keys of a typewriter. At the same time he is keen to defend his father, the poet Will Vesper who was celebrated by the Nazis as a proponent of their ‘Blood and Soil’ ideology. The land where Bernward lives is being suffocated by its past. The war has only been over for fifteen years, old Nazis are back in positions of power, and nobody is prepared to talk about war crimes; the Republic is standing to attention. One day Bernward meets Gudrun Ensslin and her friend Dörte. Before long, the three friends are living together in a ménage à trois. But their three-way relation- ship doesn’t last long. It soon transpires that Gudrun and Bernward are twin souls. Continue reading

Herbert Achternbusch – Heilt Hitler! AKA Heal Hitler! (1986)

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Herbert in plaster
In the films of Herbert Achternbusch the plot is more of a space in which the Bavarian filmmaker, poet and painter improvises. For example as artist and soldier Herbert in Heilt Hitler!, which premiered 25 years ago at the Berlinale. At night Herbert sits with his last comrade in the trenches of Stalingrad. While his comrade is writing with his finger one last letter to the Fuehrer into the air, Herbert starts to plaster himself with the last bucket of plaster, so the Russians find only a statue. Suddenly Herbert finds himself in the Munich of the eighties. At the war memorial in Munich’s Hofgarten is written “They will rise again”. That’s the miracle of Stalingrad. Herbert does not know where he is and tries to scrounge cigarettes, in Russian. Maybe the Germans have won the war, have rebuilt Stalingrad after the model of Munich and renamed it Hitlergrad. On the Munich Marienplatz and Lake Starnberg Herbert observes that all Germans are sick. Like Hitler: “No one is healed.” Heilt Hitler! is an absurd farce, shot in eleven days in Super-8 and blown-up to 35 mm, a histrionic, avant-garde artist’s film with wonderful monologic passages, where Achternbusch’s later conversion to Buddhism is already indicated.
Detlef Kuhlbrodt in DIE ZEIT, 7th July 2011 Continue reading

Joe May – Das Indische Grabmal: Die Sendung des Yoghi AKA Mysteries of India, Part I: Truth (1921)

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A jealous & vindictive Rajah sends a powerful Yogi to entice a famous English architect into constructing a marvelous mausoleum in which to inter the prince’s faithless wife.

THE Indian TOMB: THE MISSION OF THE YOGI is a perfect example of the grand German cinema epics created during the silent era. Berlin film mogul Joe May turned the full resources of his modern Maytown studio over to the production, using 300 workmen to create the lavish sets necessary to tell such an exotic tale. Continue reading

Joe May – Das Indische Grabmal: Der Tiger von Eschnapur AKA Mysteries of India, Part II: Above All Law (1921)

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The jealous & vindictive Rajah of Bengal continues to manipulate the fates of his three English captives in his mad scheme to punish his faithless wife.

THE Indian TOMB: THE TIGER OF BENGAL is a perfect example of the grand German cinema epics created during the silent era. Berlin film mogul Joe May turned the full resources of his modern 50-acre Maytown studio near Berlin over to the production, using 300 workmen to create the lavish sets necessary to tell such an exotic tale. Continue reading