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Variety fare from Germany

``Forget America''

THE SEVEN films screened at the German Film Festival conducted by the Max Mueller Bhavan and the Madras Film Society entertained viewers with their varied themes.

If "The State I am In" could be called a political film, "In July" as a cheerful road movie. "Enlightenment Guaranteed" was all about a Buddhist Monastery and the life of Buddhist monks.

Among the seven the first and last films were a cut above the rest.

"The State I am in" was about a man and his wife, both terrorists, living in Portugal under false identity. One fine morning, the police comes after them and they flee eventually entering Germany. What made the film so human was their adolescent daughter, who helps them but also lands them in trouble occasionally. The film dealt with the growth of the girl and her feelings in a fascinating way. Good performance by the teenaged girl and gripping direction by Christian Petzold.

"In July" had an arresting opening but lost the thread after some time. A Mercedes is racing on the Bulgarian highway. The driver stops in the middle of the road gets down and opens the boot of the car to reveal a human body.

The narration lacked tautness and the director's efforts to make the end convincing failed. Three friends roaming the city of Hamburg meet new friends and get into scrapes. How they manage to wriggle out of the situations is incidents, which is unnecessary. How they come out of the ticklish situations is told in ``Gigantic." In the process the past deeds of the youth are criticised but this hardly helps the narration. Sabastian Schipper has directed the film that has Frank Giering, Florian Lucas, Antoine Monot Jr., Julia Hummer, Jochen Nickel, Alber Kitzl and Guido A. Schick in the cast.

"Forget America" is a love story — triangular love at that. A car dealer and his friend fall in love with the same girl.

The car dealer is killed by gangsters and this leaves the other two to sort out life.

This includes finding jobs. The episodes are rather jerky. The cast comprises Marek Harloff, Roman Knizka, Franzsika Petri, Rita Feldmeier, Printschitsch, Johannes Franke and Gerhardt. Camera, handled by Judith Kaufmann is good and music by Michael Beckmann livens up the proceedings in this film, directed by Vanessa Joop.

"Enlightenment Guaranteed" deals in detail with the customs and tradition of a Buddhist monastery in Japan.

``In July"

The story, presented not without a sense of humour, is about two brothers who go to Japan and the difficulties they face on that soil.

The second half, however, is not as interesting as the first. L. Doris Dorrie has directed it.

The trauma of a Kurdish family settled in Hamburg is the subject of ``The April Children."

Two brothers and their sister with their parents live together.

One brother Cem works in a meat factory while his brother takes to criminal ways. Cem loves a prostitute, but is forced to marry by his father to marry a relative. Is he happy?

Do the parents feel secure? These are among the many questions asked and the answer to all them come in the form of loneliness. One does not belong to the country one lives in nor can one follow the customs and traditions of one's motherland.

This agony is captured in the screenplay but the treatment lacks depth. The festival ended on a high not with a film about a novelist, Gisela Elsner, who is assumed to have committed suicide in 1992. His son, Oskar Toehler, a filmmaker of repute, tells the world through this film about the last days of the novelist.

Named Hanna Flanders in the film, the protagonist runs from one place to another in search of nothing in particular.

The relationships she develops with the people she meets were shown in the most interesting way.

The last days of the novelist were certainly not happy. Hannelore elsner, Vadim Glowna, Tonio Arngo, Michael Gwisdek, Bernd Stempel and Jasmin Tabtabei are the main artistes who have been used in this contemporary history film with a touch of melodrama in it. Script and direction are by Oskar Roehler.

Melancholy, which runs as an undercurren, has been effectively captured by Hagen Bogdanski's camera.


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