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Shortly before the dawn of the new millennium a firework woke the slumbering German film industry: Tom Tykwer’s 1998 film “Run Lola Run”. The experimental comedy about the redhead Lola, fate, love and chance captures the spirit of the late 1990s. The global audience saw Lola’s daredevil race against time through the streets of Berlin as a metaphor for the restlessness of an era. “Run Lola Run” proved to be the international breakthrough for director Tom Tykwer. For the German cinema it marked the beginning of a revival. For the first time since the era of so-called auteur cinema and Rainer Werner Fassbinder (died 1982), foreign commentators once again began to enthuse about German cinema, which is now enjoying international success. In 2003, Caroline Link won an Oscar for “Nowhere in Africa” and in 2007 Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck won the cherished trophy for his film “The Life of Others”, and the same year the Cannes International Film Festival awarded its prize for best script and its special prize to Fatih Akin for his film “The Edge of Heaven”.

While at the beginning of the new millennium it was comedies that surprisingly boosted German cinema’s prospects – such as Hans Weingartner’s “Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei“ (2004) – by the end of the first decade attention focused on serious films. The themes have remained the same, however: The tragicomedy “Good Bye, Lenin!” (2003) was a success in over 70 countries because it portrayed the failure of socialism, and Donnersmarck’s “The Life of Others” (2007) is about life and suffering in East Germany’s police state.
Fatih Akin, a Hamburg citizen with Turkish roots, on the other hand, tells the story of life in Germany at breathtaking speed. In his movie “Head-On” (2004), which among other things won the B.I.F.F, Golden Bear, he offers us the love story of two Turks brought up in Germany, and how they are crushed between the two cultures. The story is brutally precise, but deliberately not a tear-jerker. And in 2007 in his “Edge of Heaven” he tells the story of six people in Germany and Turkey, whose lives are tied up by destiny. For the German Film Prize this was worth no less then four awards. In 2009 in “Soul Kitchen” he creates a movie testimony to Hamburg, this time in a comedy.

German films are successful because they use national themes when telling universal stories. Yet the filmmakers filter the material of which their movies are made from the history and difficulties in their own country and their own biography.

© Facts about Germany


Berlinale 2011

The Goethe-Institute: The Ambassador of German Film

film reel

The Goethe-Institut, the cultural organization of the Federal Republic of Germany, is famous worldwide. Do you know that it is also one of the biggest “cinemas” in the world? Every year the 134 Goeth...