Berlin & Beyond Showcases German Film

By Sura Wood

The Berlin & Beyond Film Festival offers the latest cinema from German-speaking countries.

The Berlin & Beyond Film Festival opens in March with the latest cinema from German-speaking countries; viewers can expect a host of new voices and cultural insights. Its documentaries and narrative features cover a wide range of content and locales, from Lars Kraume’s “The Silent Revolution,” about two school chums in East Germany, circa 1956, who express solidarity with the Hungarian uprising, to Ofir Raul Graizer’s “The Cakemaker,” in which a German baker who has been having an affair with a married Israeli man journeys to Jerusalem after his lover is killed and infiltrates his widow’s life.

This year’s program of 20 films includes 6 directed by women. Drawing on her experience as a disaffected youth who became a member of a violent right-wing group in Norway—and somehow extricated herself at 18—Karen Winther’s personal documentary, “Exit,” relates the stories of former extremists. She also probes what prompts people to join neo-Nazi, Jihadist and other hate groups, while examining how and why some radicalized individuals make the difficult, potentially dangerous decision to break away. 

 Kerstin Polte’s “Cloud Whispers” centers on a German wife and mother who, at 60, has reached an age when some women strike out on their own in a “what about me?” moment. Initially, that seems to be the case for Charlotte, the film’s protagonist, who is in a stale marriage when she suddenly leaves her husband and former life behind to embark on a whimsical adventure with her precocious, free-spirited granddaughter. “I’ve had a strong urge to create films about female characters that are stubborn, edgy and unique,” says Polte. “So I made this three-generation road movie, where women literally take over the driver’s seat of their lives.”

Romy Schneider was an international film star once described by “Vogue” as possessing “a heady mix of aristocratic poise and can’t-help-it sex appeal.” Her career took off when she was still in her teens with her portrayal of the young 19th-century Empress Elisabeth of Austria; she later gained prominence for roles in “La Piscine,” “César and Rosalie” and “Christine,” which led to her highly publicized love affair with co-star Alain Delon. Schneider is the magnetic subject of Emily Atef’s “3 Days in Quiberon,” a semi-fictionalized account of a series of surprisingly revealing interviews the troubled Austrian actress gave to journalists from the German magazine “Stern.” The sessions transpired in 1981 when Schneider (played by Marie Baumer) was staying at a spa in Brittany where, according to the film, she was recovering from alcoholism. Tortured by self-doubt, family tragedies and inner demons, Schneider would die a year later at the age of 43.

Berlin & Beyond Film Festival

March 8-10 Castro Theatre; March 11 Shattuck Cinemas: March 12-14 Goethe Institut