Starts March 26
by Becky Tan
Tom Tykwer pitched the concept of a composite film, organized meetings between directors, and, in no time, 13 leading German directors submitted 13 short films about their personal impressions of Germany. The 12-minute shorts range from funny to serious to symbolic; some require more than a little bit of background knowledge. A man trashes the offices of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper; he is angry because the editors have replaced the traditional old-German script (called Fraktur) with something more modern (director: Hans Steinbichler).There is an imaginary meeting with author Susan Sontag, terrorist Ulrike Meinhof and a teenager (director: Nicolette Krebitz). Fatih Akin presents an imaginary interview with Murat Kurnaz, the man from Bremen who sat in Guantanamo for five years. Romuald Karmakar interviews an Iranian who owns an exotic bar in the red light district of Berlin. Tykwer’s segment emphasizes globalization in a humorous manner as one man travels from Berlin to other international cities.
At the 2009 Berlinale press conference one journalist noticed that all action seems to happen in former West Germany, unless you count Berlin as East. Another suggested that the films would initiate a discussion about right versus left political affiliations. A Turkish journalist asked whether the film is slotted for foreign or simply national distribution. He said, “Foreigners have a very positive impression of Germany; they will be surprised when they see your depressing, bleak view of this country.” I agree totally. Of 13 short films, perhaps three are uplifting and light-hearted. Naturally, this is a valuable and interesting film for all of us who live here. Just be aware that German gloom is alive and well in 2009.