The Bangalore International Film Festival screened some of Germany’s finest films this season

The sixth edition of the Bangalore International Film Festival (BIFFES) saw some great highlights this year – the most glorious of which was the ‘Festival in a Festival’. Presented by the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, the initiative featured five top class films selected from the Hof Festival and screened for the very first time in Bangalore. The Hof festival, held annually in October in the tiny town of Hof in Germany, is one of the most acclaimed international scenes for films drawing thousands of film lovers from across the globe to the town.

Metroplus brings you a look at the five films of the ‘Festival in a Festival’ and throws light at the country focus on Germany during BIFFES.

13 Semester

Director: Frieder Wittich (Germany 2009, 102 min.)

The German student comedy movie follows the life of Moritz (called Momo), who leaves his small village after taking his A-levels to study economics at the university in the big city. An ingenious cook, Moritz gets completely disoriented.

He starts a doomed business, falls in love with the lovely Kerstin, goes partying, spends a year of practical training in Australia, and fails his graduation exams four times, only to find out that mathematics isn’t really what he is dreaming about. Now, after 13 semesters of sitting in front of his professor, he faces his very last chance to pass the examination. Moritz surprisingly passes and then decides to throw in the towel to the corporate job to launch his own successful chain of restaurants in Australia. The open-ended movie deals with student life, comic satire and relationships.

The Poll Diaries

Director: Chris Kraus (Germany, Austria, Estonia 2010, 134 min.)

Centred on teenager Oda von Siering, the emotional scope and physical scale of The Poll Diaries (aka, Poll in its homeland) hauntingly evokes the end-of-days atmosphere of a doomed society at the crossroads of the German and Russian Empires in the early years of the 20th century. On the eve of World War I, the 14-year-old returns to Poll, her German aristocratic family home on the Baltic coast, a region uneasily shared by Germans, Russians and Estonians. Upon finding a wounded Estonian anarchist on the estate, the passionate Oda hides him and secretly nurses him back to health, and later falls in love with the young writer. Oda’s secret is discovered and the violence that follows ignites local tensions. Two other German films were also screened at the 6th BIFFES that were not part of the Hof Festival but nevertheless masterpieces in their own right.

Oh Boy, directed by Jan Ole Gerster (2012) is a black and white mono-sound tragicomedy revolving around an entire day in the life of Niko Fisher, a young man who drops out of university and ends up wandering the streets of the city he lives: Berlin. Two Mothers, directed by Anne Zohra Berrached (2013), follows the struggles of two women in love and their quest to remain in a volatile relationship while trying to have a baby.

Eastalgia

Director: Daria Onyshchenko (Germany, Serbia, Ukraine 2011, 93 min)

Three cities, three love stories, one night in Europe. Ruslana, a middle-aged Ukrainian, lives a lonely life in Munich. Just when she fails her German exam yet again and a broken pipe floods her modest home, her Serbian neighbour Vladan, comes to her rescue and overcomes her language barrier with his Slavic soul.

The same night, Ruslana’s son Bogdan, who is working as a driver for spoilt Ukrainian pop-singer Maria in Kiev, expresses his love to her. Instead of returning to his mother, Bogdan spends the night with Maria, but the next morning, Maria’s rich patron Jora is at their door. Zoran, Vladan’s son, is still struggling to cope with his parents’ divorce and lives in Belgrade. The same night, he meets Jelena, an indecisive, but loveable woman who intends to leave her homeland the next day, forever. Daria’s debut film explores the theme of emigration and love with bittersweet endings.

Houston

Director: Bastian Günther (Germany 2013, 107 min.)

Centred on corporate espionage and blackmail, the film tracks the life of Clemens Trunschka, who struggles with a spotty employment and a shaky marriage. Driven by alcoholism, the German corporate head-hunter travels to Houston, Texas, in pursuit of a renowned oil company CEO, only to have his life fall apart.

Director Bastian shows great skill in capturing the emotional material with fixed focal lenses and brilliant choices of landscapes in his cinematography. Exploring the captivating and subtle examination of failure, Houston dives unflinchingly deep into the heart of Texas and comes up with something as surprising as it is precious: hope.

Breaking Horizons

Director: Pola Beck (Germany 2012, 89 min.)

For 25-year-old Lara, life is all fun and her future seems settled with her just about to finish her degree in architecture.

This all changes when, after a wild night of partying, she finds herself pregnant. Confused and hesitant at first, she throws herself into the adventure: becoming a mother. But the experience takes a painful turn when the baby dies in her womb.

Thematically representing relationships between friends and strangers, the film dips into exploring the human psyche even as the ending takes full circle and restores Lara to a fuller scope of happiness.