FOCUS GERMANY is an established program of FILM PANORAMA at Shanghai International Film Festival. Many German films have a philosophical theme, but there are also works about the daily life of ordinary people, most of which are good at exploring the meaning of life through the calm use of lens.
Today, the FOCUS GERMANY program announces its screening list. On the list are the heartwarming and healing FORGET ABOUT NICK and IN THE AISLES; DIFFERENT KINDS OF RAIN and LOST ONES that reflect family issues and the life of young people, A DYSFUNCTIONAL CAT that portrays the life of immigrants; ICEMAN, STYX, and ROCK MY HEART, about man’s struggle against nature and destiny; the thrillers ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME and GODLESS YOUTH; and 3 DAYS IN QUIBERON, a must-see for fans of Sissi, for capturing the last interview given by Romy Schneider who played Sissi. Most of these films focus on the extraordinary lives of ordinary people, demonstrating to the audience an ever more open and diverse culture of Germany.
3 DAYS IN QUIBERON
Director: Emily Atef
Writer: Emily Atef
Stars: Marie Bäumer/Birgit Minichmayr/Robert Gwisdek
Talented actress Marie Bäumer played Romy Schneider, legendary actress famous for the titular role in SISSI, in 3 DAYS IN QUIBERON which captures the last media interview Romy gave in a rehab clinic after retirement. In 1981, a year before her death, the retired Romy Schneider gives an interview to the young journalist Michael Jürgs and her longtime acquaintance, photographer Robert Lebeck, for a large German publication. Immediately, a cat-and-mouse game ensues between the fragile actress and the ambitious author.
The ups and downs of emotions, between tenderness and mutual manipulation, amidst the journalists' effort to capture for their audience the most inner feelings of this fascinating woman – all of these keeps them deeply engaged for three days and nights. Marie Bäumer’s performance in the film is so stunning you might as well believe she is Romy herself. The film was nominated for the Golden Bear earlier this year.
FORGET ABOUT NICK
Director: Margarethe von Trotta
Writer: Pamela Katz
Stars: Cosma Shaw Ingrid Bolsø Berdal / Haluk Bilginer / Katja Riemann / Cosima Shaw
The worlds of two different women collide in a New York City loft: model vs. intellectual, style vs. comfort, career woman vs. single mom. Jade and Maria are complete opposites in the way they live. Their only common ground is their unfaithful ex-husband: Nick. The ageing Casanova has left his wife - once again - for a younger model. As a farewell gift, however, and to honor the marriage contracts, he has over-written each ex-wife half of a luxurious loft in Manhattan.
As neither women would back down, they end up sharing the flat. What starts as a minor verbal hostility leads to a bitter guerrilla warfare. But over time, the two women come closer. Both come to the subtle realization that, despite all their differences, they might not be so different after all. The film was directed by Margarethe von Trotta, a famous German director who has won the Golden Lion award. Her masterpieces include DIE BLEIERNE ZEIT and HANNAH ARENDT.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF RAIN
Director: Isabel Prahl
Writer: Karin Kaci
Stars: Bjarne Mädel / Bibiana Beglau / Louis Hofmann
The door has been closed for many weeks. A teenager, Mike, has locked himself in, shutting out a helpless father, mother and sister. He is not sick. He has consciously decided not to take part in the life outside anymore. In Japan, youths like him have already been given a name: Hikikomori (the secluded). The phenomenon also begins to spread throughout the Western world.
This is all the family has been able to find out. And his parents or sister cannot do anything about it. All they can do is stand in front of the locked door and prompt, plead, ask, lose it, despair, accuse, ignore, and hope. In the process, the door increasingly turns into a mirror of their own lives and stories. The film is the director’s feature debut. It has one of Germany’s rising stars, Louis Hofmann, cast in the main role. He has won international awards for LAND OF MINE.
ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME
Director: Özgür Yildirim
Writer: Özgür Yildirim
Stars: Moritz Bleibtreu / Alexandra Maria Lara / Peter Simonischek
After a botched robbery attempt five years ago, Ricky went to jail for his brother Rafael and his buddy Latif. Now that's he's back out of jail, Latif wants to show his gratitude. He says he has a sure-fire scheme to get rich quickly. Ricky could use the money to set up his new life. Ricky hesitates at first, but then agrees. Complications arise as soon as preparations start.
Ricky is forced to take Rafael aboard, whom he really wanted to keep out of trouble. Things keep going awful, especially in the form of hard-up policewoman Diana, who's in need of cash and develops considerable criminal energy of her own trying to foil the boys' plan in an unforeseen way. The film with its story centering on love and revenge, stars Moritz Bleibtreu, talented German actor who played the male lead in RUN LOLA RUN.
A DYSFUNCTIONAL CAT
Director: Susan Gordanshekan
Stars: Hadi Khanjanpour / Pegah Ferydoni
Mina lives in Iran. By Iranian standards, she has left it rather late in the day to decide to marry. Kian is a doctor of Iranian origin. He's single and lives in Germany. Frustrated by a series of unsuccessful blind dates, he finally takes his mother's advice and uses the traditional Iranian method of arranged encounters with potential partners in order to find a wife. When Mina and Kian meet it's not exactly love at first sight and yet they both sense the possibility of a life together. Mina decides to marry Kian and start a new life in Germany. Both have the best intentions to create a harmonious relationship, but marriage is more difficult than they imagined. Over time, the two become familiar with each other. Luckily, they have a cat. The film’s director happens to be a German filmmaker of Iranian origin. She directed it, her first feature film, with the support of la Cinéfondation of the Cannes International Film Festival.
Director: Felix Randau
Writer: Felix Randau
Stars: Jürgen Vogel / Susanne Wuest / André Hennicke / Sabin Tambrea
The Ötztal Alps, more than 5300 years ago, a Neolithic clan has settled nearby a creek. It is their leader Kelab´s responsibility to be the keeper of the group’s holy shrine Tineka. While Kelab is hunting, the settlement is attacked. The members of the tribe are brutally murdered, amongst them Kelab’s wife and son included. Only one newborn survives, and Tineka is gone!
Blinded by pain and fury, Kelab is out for one thing alone – vengeance! The pursuit of the murderers is shaping up to be quite an odyssey for Kelab. He fights for the infant’s survival and against the forces of nature. The film features the breathtaking Alps and stars Jürgen Vogel, well known to Chinese audiences for the famous German film DIE WELLE (THE WAVE).
Director: Thomas Stuber
Writers: Thomas Stuber/Clemens Meyer
Stars: Sandra Hüller/Franz Rogowski/Peter Kurth
After the shy and reclusive Christian loses his job, he starts to work for a wholesale market. Bruno from the Beverage aisle takes him under his wing and quickly becomes a fatherly friend to him. In the aisles he meets “Sweets”-Marion, and is instantly smitten by her mysterious charm. But Marion is married and Christian’s feelings for her seem to remain unrequited, especially when Marion does not return to work one day.
Christian slowly becomes a member of the wholesale market family and his days of driving fork lifts and stacking shelves mean much more to him than it seems. Sandra Hüller, who plays Marion in the film, is the leading actress of the German masterpiece TONI ERDMANN. This time instead of a hard working daughter she plays an attractive sweetheart. The film was nominated for the Golden Bear award earlier this year.
Director: Wolfgang Fischer
Writers: Wolfgang Fischer/Ika Künzel
Stars: Susanne Wolff/ Gedion Oduor Wekesa
Rike - mid-30s, a doctor from Europe - is educated, determined and committed. She fulfills a long-held dream and sails out to sea alone in her sailing boat. But her dream holiday is quickly broken off on the high seas, when, after a storm, she finds herself near a stricken refugee boat. Unless she intervenes, around a hundred people will drown - their utterly overloaded boat has sprung a leak. Despite a chain of unhappy events, she is determined to fight with the high sea, alone.
The film was the opening film of the Panorama program of the Berlin International Film Festival this year. The crew spent 33 days shooting in the waters near Malta Island. The seascape is quite spectacular.
Director: Felix Hassenfratz
Writer: Felix Hassenfratz
Stars: Clemens Schick/Maria Dragus /Enno Trebs
Maria feels free when she is playing the organ. At home the 18-year-old feels responsible, for Hannah, her younger sister, who is rebelling and planning her escape from the village, and for Johann, her father. After the early death of their mother, the two dissimilar sisters live alone with their father. Maria stoically fulfils the expectations of the others, as protector, sister and daughter loved by her father - even at the expenses of her own dreams.
However, everything changes when Maria falls in love, for the first time, with Valentin, a young travelling carpenter. Valentin returns Maria's secret affections, but the nearer he comes to her, the more she withdraws from him. But as Hannah starts to understand what is going on, she decides to save her sister. The film is the directorial debut of Felix and the leading actress Maria Dragus played the daughter in Cristian Mungiu’s GRADUATION and is a rising star of the European cinema.
ROCK MY HEART
Director: Hanno Olderdissen
Writers: Clemente Fernandez-Gil/ Hanno Olderdissen
Stars: Lena Klenke/Emilio Sakraya/ Milan Peschel
At 17, Jana has already lived half of her life, at least according to the statistics about her congenital heart disease. Every beat of her heart could be her last. But according to Jana, this is just not fair. Much to her parents distress, Jana jumps head over heels into every adventure she can think of. When Jana gets to know the thoroughbred stallion ‘Rock My Heart’, her entire life changes.
Rock's trainer Paul, understanding the connection between girl and horse, persuades Jana to ride him for a big event. He has no clue, however, that Jana is fatally ill, and that the training is incredibly dangerous for her. But for the first time in her young life, Jana has something to look forward to and to fight for. But will she really manage to ride the big event in spite of her condition?
Director: Alain Gsponer
Writers: Alex Buresch/Matthias Pacht
Stars: Jannis Niewöhner/Fahri Yardim / Emilia Schüle /Jannik Schümann
The film is the latest masterpiece by Alain Gsponer, the director of HEIDI, and is the German version of THE HUNGER GAMES. In a not-too-distant future, in which the society serves to protect the elite and isolate the weak, the cities are hellholes and the countryside holds the fairytale promise of a better life. People compete in various types of competition to obtain superior resources. Zach and Nadesh have been selected to participate in a physical training camp to qualify for an elite school of the country. In addition to cooperating to complete various tasks, they have to give the best individual performance. Different from Nadesh, who complies with the rules of the game, Zach, who yearns for freedom, begins to question the system. The friction between the two gradually increases. Then, a diary that goes missing and an accidental homicide not only change their destiny but also reveal the desires and lies within the distorted system.