- Category: Movie Reviews
- Written by Gilbert Seah
Heimat NOW - FILMS
Goehte-Institut Toronto celebrates the return of Heimatflims with recent award-winning German films from this genre. Acclaimed German author Frank Goosen will be in attendance for a screening and a “Culture talks @ Goethe” event.
With a nod to #Canada150, the Goethe-Institut Toronto is joining the conversation on the meaning of home and belonging with their latest Goethe Films screening series. Heimat NOW will be taking place at TIFF Bell Lightbox on March 7, 9 and 14, as well as on March 10 at the Goethe-Insitut.
Popular in 1950s Germany and Austria, Heimatfilms are known for showcasing the region’s natural beauty, for featuring passionate romances, as in the popular ‘Sissi’ series, which helped launch Romy Schneider’s career. 60 years later, the genre is making a comeback, reinvented across comedies and coming-of-age stories, and not just in German film but internationally, from Brassed off to My Winnipeg.
Heimat NOW will show five recent award-winning features that explore the current state of the nation, as well as how regional distinctions are portrayed in contemporary German films, post-reunification. Toronto audiences will have a chance to explore the country, as well as the meaning of “home”, through the following titles:
*Toronto Premiere* March 7, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Grave Decisions Marcus H. Rosenmüller (2006) *shown on 35mm
*North American Premiere* March 7, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Holidays Bernadette Knoller (2016)
*Canadian Premiere* March 9, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Learning to Lie Hendrik Handloegten (2003) *shown on 35mm
March 14, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Schultze Gets the Blues Michael Schorr (2003) *shown on 35mm
Schultze has spent his whole life in a small town in Saxony-Anhalt in East Germany. After his buddies are let go, a mid-life crisis leads him to music from the American South. His new-found love might end up taking him deep into the swamps and bayous of Louisiana and back.
*Canadian Premiere* March 14, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sound of Heimat Arne Birkenstock, Jan Tengeler (2012)
This doc follows New Zealand musician Hayden Chisholm on a trip through Germany on the traces of its folk music or Volksmusik. As an outsider, Chisholm approaches German culture through its melodies and lyrics, coming across an astoundingly rich regional diversity.
On March 10, German author Frank Goosen will also be part of a Culture talks @ Goethe event, where he will be reading from his bestselling Heimatromane in German, and Toronto actor Tony Nappo (“Butcher”) in English. Admission to this event is free and will take place at Goethe-Institut Toronto.
CAPSULE REVIEWS OF SELECTED FILMS:
GRAVE DECISIONS (Germany 2006) **
Directed by Marcus H. Rosenmüller
Marcus H. Rosenmüller's first feature movie (which he co-wrote) is set in an idyllic Bavarain village. The main character is a boy thinking that he is responsible for his mother's death as his mother died giving birth to him. His unusual ways to fight his feelings of guilt are the GRAVE DECISIONS that he makes.. 11-year-old Sebastian (Markus Krojer) lives with his father, Lorenz (Fritz Karl) and brother Franz (Franz Xaver Brückner). Dreaming of purgatory, Sebastian sees only two ways to avoid this divine punishment: becoming an immortal rock star or find a new wife for his father. Director Rosenmüller has assembled a reasonably interesting cast of characters that aid or hamper the boy’s coming-of-age. He also creates a credible village atmosphere where no one can escape the gossip going round the village. GRAVE DECISIONS is an ok film - nothing too special, like a family TV movie.
(Screening March 7th)
HOLIDAYS (FERIEN) (Germany 2016)***/12
Directed by Bernadette Knoller
HOLIDAYS is an amusing, honest comedy that bears some similarity to the hit German film TONI ERDMANN. Bothe films deal with a father/daughter relationship and the downfall of a proper lifestyle due to the weight of work. Despite success at work and a long-term relationship, the protagonist Vivian is stuck. Wanting to help, her father sends her off to a Frisian Island in the North Sea. There, she meets single mother Biene, who briefly after meeting Vivi, suddenly disappears, leaving her in charge of her 13 year-old son. The misadventures are as hilarious as Vivian’s character. Britta Hammelstein who looks a little like and has the same ‘begging for sympathy’ face as French actress Emmanuelle Devos.
SCHULTZ GETS THE BLUES (Germany 2003) ****
Directed by Michael Schorr
This is my favourite of all the German films - weird, dead-pan, while being insightful. The lead character of the title, Schultze has spent his whole life working the salt mine in the small town in Saxony-Anhalt in East Germany. After he and his buddies are laid off, a mid-life crisis leads him to discover music from the American South. He is a member of the local music group, where he plays the accordion to traditional music like the polka. He is elected to attend a conference in the States by the group and play polka. Instead of playing polka, he ends up distracted getting a boat and heading deep into the swamps and bayous of Louisiana.
SOUND OF HEIMAT (Germany 2012) ***
Directed by Arne Birkenstock and Jan Tengeler
What better way to appreciate the culture of people than to listen to their folk music. SOUND OF HEIMAT takes a musical tour around the villages of Germany through the eyes of a German Kiwi, New Zealand musician Hayden Chisholm. The film follows Hayden on a trip through Germany on the traces of its folk music or Volksmusik. The pleasure of the film lies not only in the performances of the folk artists and the beautiful songs but from the expressions of the faces of the performers as well as the music audiences.