The German Film Festival, organised by the German-Maltese Circle in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, is by now firmly cemented in Malta’s cultural calendar.
Now in its ninth edition, the festival has for years offered Maltese and Malta-based cinephiles the opportunity to enjoy the best of what contemporary German cinema has to offer – with some throwbacks to classic German cinema and auteurs often included.
This year’s festival runs from Wednesday to Saturday, and the line-up includes In the Fade, 3 Days in Quiberon, In the Aisles, Legend of Timm Thaler, Western and Back for Good, part of the Young German Cinema – director’s debut section.
The Festival’s opening film is In the Fade (original title Aus dem Nichts), an award-winning 2017 film directed by Fatih Akin. Diane Kruger stars as Katja, a woman whose life falls apart when her husband Nuri and little son Rocco are killed in a bomb attack.
Her friends and extended family try to give her the support she needs, and Katja somehow manages to make it through the funeral.
But the mind-numbing search for the perpetrators and reasons behind the senseless killing complicate Katja’s painful mourning, opening wounds and planting doubts.
Katja struggles as she endures the trial against the two suspects: a young couple from the neo-Nazi scene. The trial pushes Katja to the edge and there’s simply no alternative for her: she wants justice.
The film made its debut in competition in the 2017 Cannes film festival, where Kruger was awarded the Best Actress award. It went on to win the 2017 Bavarian Film Prize for Best Actress and Best Direction and the 2018 German Film Awards for Best Film – Silver and Best Screenplay). Its international success was cemented with the 2018 Golden Globe Award and Critics’ Choice Award.
In the Fade will be screened in attendance of its director of photography Rainer Klausmann. During his extensive career, Klausmann has worked on many films with Fatih Akin and also with other very influential directors, among them German filmmaking legend Werner Herzog.
In principle, I do not have anything against art being purely for entertainment, but I prefer arthouse cinema, which oftentimes takes a more social look at the world
Klausmann chatted briefly to the Sunday Times of Malta, and looking back on his career, cites Michelangelo Antonioni’s seminal 1966 film Blow-Up as an inspiration for him start an internship in photography.
“Working alone as a photographer soon bored me, however,” he recalls. “Yet photography still fascinated me. So that is how I ended up doing films, as on films I could work with other people.”
In the Fade tackles the all-too topical subject of nationalism and racism – does Klausmann believe it is important for the arts, like cinema, to tackle these subjects?
“Absolutely,” he says. “It is very important to have directors, journalists and authors deal with the important themes which concern us nowadays and who reflect on those themes and take a stance. In principle, I do not have anything against art being purely for entertainment, but I prefer arthouse cinema, which oftentimes takes a more social look at the world.”
Klausmann has collaborated with Fatih Akin, director of In the Fade on a number of occasions. Klausmann explains that the secret to their collaboration lies in the fact that their relationship is similar to a marriage.
“We understand each other blindly, and discuss only the really important matters pertaining to the film.”
Klausmann clearly admires Akin, citing the director’s 2004 domestic drama Head On as his favourite among his works. “I am still impressed by its power and vibrancy,” he states.
The Akin/Klausmann collaboration is still going strong – Klausmann’s upcoming project is working on the colour grading of Akin’s latest film, The Golden Glove, which they filmed over the summer.
This will not be Klausmann’s first visit in Malta. He was here working on The Cut, with, naturally, Akin. He is looking forward to returning, for what will be a relaxed visit.
“I am sure I will experience Malta differently during my stay this time and I am looking forward to the films at the festival, the people… and the food!”
All films being screened during the German Film Festival are in German with subtitles in English. Tickets can be booked from the Embassy Cinema, Valletta.
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