29 August, 2008
by Sandy Mandelberger, Montreal World Film Festival
Bavaria has been a cinema stronghold in Germany for over 100 years. While many German film companies and filmmakers have migrated to Berlin in the last decade, Munich still remains the main hub for the German film industry.
Directors like Doris Dorrie and Sonke Wortmann have been famous Bavarian film names for the last few decades. In recent years, Bavarian films have won innumberable prizes at home and abroad, including Oscars for Florian Gallenberger (Quero ser), Caroline Link (Nowhere In Africa) and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives Of Others). Other important films of recent vintage coming from Bavaria include the Oscar-nominated Downfall, about the final days of Adolph Hitler, by Oliver Hirschbieger, and Sophie Scholl: The Final Days by Marc Rothemund.
This year the Montreal World Film Festival will pay tribute to the new generation of Bavarian auteurs by presenting a dozen films, ten features and two shorts. Among the films selected: Die Welle (The Wave), an allegory about the German tendency towards fascist autocracy by Dennis Gansel; Kirschbluten-Hanami (Cherry Blossoms-Hanami), the story of a Bavaria widower who comes to Japan to find some solace, by veteran director Doris Dorrie; Absurdistan, an absurdist comedy about two childhood sweethearts living in a water-starved village somewhere between Asia and Europe, directed by Veit Helmer; Rauber Kneissl (Bavarian Rebel),a biopic of legendary criminal Robber Kneissl, a 20th century Robin Hood, directed by Marcus H. Rosenmuller; and Der Rote Punkt (The Red Spot), the haunting tale of a Japanese student who travels to Germany to visit the spot where her parents died in a car accident, directed by Marie Miyayama.
Bavarian cinema not only concentrates on diverse content but deal with formal aesthetic trends and technological advances, due to the concentration of new technology business in the area. In this aspect, Bavaria and Montreal have a number of similarities. Both are proud to assert their cultural and political identities in their respective federal systems while also being hubs for new technology companies and new media trends. This mix of tradition and techology is expressed in Bavaria by the slogan “laptop und lederhosen”, a mix that is exemplified in the Festival's selections.