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Films inspired by the fall of the Berlin wall

by Archives September 18, 2002

The Goethe Institute, the German Institute of Montreal began its Best of the 90s: German Highlights showcase, featuring 14 of the best German films from the previous decade last Sept. 12.

Included in the screenings were the first two films by the director of Run Lola Run, Tom Tykwer. Running until Dec. 13, the showcase celebrates the diversity of German cinema and the many young and gifted directors that produced films dealing with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Prior to the re-unification of Germany, the majority of directors were churning out films dealing with dark and cerebral subject matter, alienating themselves from their potential audiences.

With a re-unified Germany, the east and the west found themselves struggling to adapt to one another, in turn creating economic and social turmoil. People saw films as a release from these problems and this, according to showcase organizer Kaisa Tikkanen, is one of the primary reasons for such a dramatic change in the filmmaking. “When it came to cinema, Germans preferred watching films with comedic elements to them, rather than watch a more serious film,” she says.
With this new approach to filmmaking, up-and-coming directors saw an opportunity to create unique films that could transcend the norms that had previously existed in German cinema. Diversity reigned – comedies, satires, thrillers, and dramas began sprouting up. While many directors were interested in establishing an engaging narrative and reaching a broader audience, others were making films for the sole purpose of creating art.

This eclecticism is something that the Best of showcase has tried to capture.
“What we wanted to do was reflect the trends and important directors working in Germany today,” says Tikkanen. “We could generalize and say that most directors are interested in reaching a wider audience and have a more commercial goal in mind, but I feel it’s important to support films that have artistic merit, where directors are trying to create challenging films and have something personal to say.”

Tikkanen hopes the showcase, which screens half the films with English subtitles and the other half with French subtitles, will provide an opportunity to experience German cinema in all its diversity.

She points out that an ordinary filmgoer might see a German film at the Montreal Film Festival and will lose interest if the film fails to catch their eye. “What this showcase does is show a great variety of films and each one is good for different reasons. It’s a wonderful opportunity, in a condensed format, to be able to see the best films so that people can get the sense that there’s a lot of interesting things happening in terms of cinema in Germany.”

As the Best of showcase celebrates the works of primarily young directors, Tikkanen hopes this attracts a younger audience. Most of the films, she says, feature young people as the primary characters and have a very youthful feel to them.

Best of the 90s: German Highlights Showcase is at the Goethe-Institute Centre Culturel Allemand, 418 Sherbrooke. Phone: 499-0159.

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