ICYMI: German Film Week is happening now!
MANILA, Philippines – German director Markus Goller flew into town and engaged viewers – including high school students who were in their uniforms! – in a Q&A at the opening of the second German Film Week at Cinema 1 of SM Mall of Asia mid-week last week.
Munich born-and-bred Goller presented the film he had directed, My Brother Simple (Simpel), which is based on the 2012 French novel of the same title written by Marie-Aude Murail. The story begins when Hamburg-based David decides to send his mentally-handicapped son Barnabas (nicknamed "Simple") into a facility after his estranged bedridden wife dies in their rural farm. When his other son Ben finds out about it, Ben brings Simple along and visits David (whom they hadn’t seen in 15 years) to convince him to change his mind.
The heart-tugging, highly-entertaining road trip movie will be followed by another, as Goller – who has five full-length films to his name – is poised to release another flick, once again featuring two brothers, “who rediscover their scooters” and go on a road trip around Germany, Goller shared during a very short interview with Rappler during the reception following the screening on opening night of the German Film Week at SM Mall of Asia.
The German Film Week, which is on its second year, is the only festival in the country which features the best and the latest in contemporary German cinema. Thanks to the Goethe-Institut Philippinen – the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of the Germany – which promotes the study of the German language, and encourages international cultural exchange.
Since its successful launch last year, the festival has attracted an important and relevant number of audiences throughout the country: students from all over the Phillippines, filmmakers, industry leaders and media; and has helped promote the activities and advocacies of the German Cultural Center.
This year’s interesting and diverse lineup of films was carefully selected among the latest releases in Germany, some of which have already been receiving numerous awards in international film festivals.
“We are truly excited to unveil this year’s films and new voices to Philippine audiences,” said Dr. Ulrich Nowak, the director of the Goethe-Institut Philippinen in a press release issued to media. "Whether mainstream, romantic comedies, or micro-budget indies, we made sure our festival attendees will be entertained and pleased,” he said.
Viewers still have 3 to 4 days to watch the films:
Dami Levy’s Die Welt Der Wunderlichs (The World of The Wunderlichs), 2016
All of a sudden, Mimi has to leave for a casting show abroad, thanks to her ex-husband who has a gambling addiction, and who has huge debts to pay. Her trip however, might not go just as planned as everyone else wants to join, too.
Showing: 7 pm, October 2, SM North
Kai Wessel’s Nebel Im August (Fog in August)
While staying in a mental hospital during the Nazi regime, 13-year old Ernst Lossa discovers the truth behind the hospital’s façade and decides to sabotage its euthanasia program to save his newfound friends. This film is based on a historical novel of the same title featuring the authentic life story of Lossa.
Showing: 9 pm, October 2, SM North
Karoline Herfurth’s SMS Fürdich (You’ve Got a Message), 2016
To cope with the passing of her boyfriend who had died in a car crash, a young woman keeps sending messages to his mobile phone. Unknown to her, the phone is already in the possession of a sports journalist. This film is based on a popular novel of the same title. It was shot in prominent locations in Berlin, and features some of the famous faces in German cinema of late.
Showing: 7 pm, October 3, SM MOA; 7 pm, October 4, SM North
Lone Scherfig’s Mein Blind Date Mit Dem Leben (My Blind Date with Life)
An ambitious visually-impaired young man is poised to become a hotel employee in Munich. “With a campy plot and an unlikely central character, the film is a smart and entertaining film,” says the Goethe press release. The film is based on a person who exists (and has contributed to the film’s storyline and concept).
Showing: 9 pm, October 3, SM MOA; 9 pm October 4, SM North
Michael Koch’s Marija
Marija is an Ukraninan woman who saves up her earnings from cleaning hotel rooms in Dortmund to fulfil her dream of having her own hair salon. She falls into dire straits upon losing her job and resorts to the “worst alternatives” to reach her goal.
Showing: 7 pm, October 4, SM MOA; 7 pm, October 5, SM North
Andre Erkau’s Happy Burnout
Forty-three-year-old Andreas lives in a small and messy apartment, resists work and responsibility, and loses contact with his daughter. Left with no other choice, he agrees to be sent to a sanatorium to undergo therapy so he would receive financial support from government.
Showing: 9 pm, October 4, SM MOA; 9 pm, October 5, SM North
Apart from the screening of the German films, German Film Week also features the works of acclaimed Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza. Captive has been screened at a previous Berlin International Film Festival, the prestigious Berlinale.
According to a synopsis from Goethe Institut, rebel group Abu Sayyaf took a huge number of hostages – including a lot of foreign nationals -- from the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan in 2001. “Faithfully following the sequence of events in these kidnappings, Captive presents the torturous life the hostages faced, and recreates a realistic but neutral approach that neither justifies nor vilifies the actions of the terrorists involved.”
Captive will be screened at SM MOA at 7 pm on October 2, and at 7 pm on October 3 at SM North.
Cops put interesting characters in prison during a raid in an impoverished neighbourhood in Manila in Slingshop (Tirador). Local politicians however bail these people out later on in exchange for votes in the elections. It will be shown at 9 pm on October 2 at SM MOA, and 9 pm on October 3 at SM North EDSA.
“The Brillante Mendoza screening is an addition to this year’s program,” said Dr. Nowak. “Our goal at the institute has always been to promote cultural exchange between Germany and the countries we support. And this is one way to achieve that goal; to share German features and highlight Filipino creativity.”
Tickets are priced at P100 for all German films and P200 for the Brillante Mendoza films. While the festival runs until October 5 for Metro Manila, there will be subsequent screenings in Clark, from October 8 to 12; Cebu, from October 14 to 18; and Davao, from October 20 to 24.
The German Film Week is made possible through the partnership with SM Lifestyle Malls and SM Cinemas and the support of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. For more information, visit Goethe.de/Manila. – Rappler.com
Susan Claire Agbayani is a freelance writer who contributes to newspapers, magazine, and websites. She is finishing her thesis, an unauthorized biography of a Filipino band, for her MFA in Creative Writing at De La Salle University. She lives in Quezon City with her son Gide and their cats.