Adrian Elton: Cinematic Salat
By Adrian Elton:
Well that was refreshing; rocking-up to the media launch of the 2014 Audi German Film Festival and neither having to produce an invitation nor identification in triplicate. And there I was thinking that the Germans were OCD about keeping records.
Luckily for me, as possibly the only Jew in the cinema, the relaxed and über friendly tone of the event was matched only in deliciousness by the magnificent spread of Germanic delicacies that we all supped on at lunchtime. A salty, doughy pretzel here. A dollop of Bavarian Kartoffel Salat (potato salad) there. And all washed down with a generous swig of the finest Cherman beer.
But to set the scene, before the first feature had even begun, a cohort of veteran media reviewers, all deep into their sixties, sat in the darkened space, waxing lyrical about their enduring love of strudels. I could be a shmartypunts and write something snarky about their animated conversation, but I concur wholeheartedly. What’s not to love about strudel?
With the whir of film sprockets and the sudden torch of dust speckled light, the first film we were treated to was the magnificently compelling, “Exit Marrakesh”, directed by Caroline Link, who has been making German language films since the early 90s. “Exit Marrakesh” tells the tale of a sixteen year old school boy from Berlin whose father is a famous theatre director, stationed in Morocco. The child of long divorced parents, his mother sends him to join his father for the school holidays in an effort to rekindle their stunted relationship. But while pa is perfectly happy to be garrisoned away from the flux and pulse of street life, preferring to shloomp by the hotel pool, the young-un has other ideas. The film follows his ‘escape’ into the epicenter of contemporary urban Morocco and what starts out as a heady romp descends into unforeseen danger as a fledgling romance turns awry. The film details his father’s efforts to find him and explores their tense relationship as they are forced to confront all the accumulated years of things left unsaid.
The second of the two teasers, was the bitter sweet, “Life’s No Piece Of Cake”, from director, Andre Erkau – which tells the tale of a father and his ‘Goth’ come ‘Emo’, teenage daughter, as they grapple in the aftermath of his wife’s tragic death. As Erkau originally studied psychology it’s no surprise that the film gets under the hood of his characters as they navigate their way through this brittle terrain. The film is further complicated by his mother’s advancing ill health and his daughter’s ‘escape’ to Denmark with her no-goodnik, dufus of a boyfriend. It really is a slice-of-life film that adeptly captures a moment of drama in the otherwise unexceptional lives of its protagonists. Luckily there is just enough wry humour to offset the dark clouds that loom overhead.
On reflection – if anything can be deduced from the two films that the festival organisers chose to present us with; it is that contemporary German teenagers will do whatever they can to escape from their parents
The festival, presented by the Goethe-Institut and German Films, is now in it’s Bar Mitzvah year, and is showing at the salubrious lodgings of the Palace Como, and is on in Melbourne from March 27 to April 11.