What is Goethe-Institut’s ‘60 German Filmabende 1960-2020’ all about?

A still from Hunting Scenes from Bavaria

A still from Hunting Scenes from Bavaria   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Goethe-Institut’s film programme, 60 German Filmabende 1960-2020, offers a peep into German cinema and its cultural significance

It has been 60 years since the foundation of Goethe-Institut Chennai. While the Institut technically turns 60 only on August 20, the celebrations leading up to its anniversary are already in place. To commemorate its Golden Jubilee year, the Goethe-Institut presents 60 German Filmabende 1960-2020, an ongoing film programme, with a focus on capturing the essence of German cinema.

Putting together a list of 60 landmark movies, chronicling six decades of German cinema, might come across as a laborious task. But it is a challenge that Helmut Schippert, director of the Goethe-Institut Chennai, took upon himself. Schippert says that the list would act as a handy guide to anyone who is serious about German history and its culture.

Cinema, in fact, became a significant part of Goethe-Institut from as far back as the ‘80s, informs Schippert in a telephonic chat. “We wanted to reflect upon the past — not looking historically but looking at the essence of what is still relevant for the future,” he says, adding, “Films have been a strong part of every programme we organise. The idea behind these screenings is to show what has changed in the arthouse landscape of German cinema.”

Your watchlist
  • Hunting Scenes from Bavaria (1969)
  • The Legend of Paul and Paula (1973)
  • The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974)
  • Bagdad Cafe (1987)
  • Train Birds (1997)
  • Run Lola Run (1998)
  • In the Fade (2017)

Schippert comes from a small village in Germany, where cinema was not centralised unlike in the cities back then. He was initially drawn to Western movies from the silent era and was fascinated by the works of Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and cowboy movies, in particular. He recounts the time in the late ’60s when he popped a cigarette to masquerade as an adult, to catch Blow Up, which was an R-rated movie. These little nuggets of teenage memories are what helped him in the curation. “I was looking at four to five different threads while curating these movies. We have quite a bit of movies from the German Democratic Republic, which ceased to exist after the Fall of the Berlin Wall,” he says about the process, adding that the protagonists of German cinema — Frank Beyer, Alexander Kluge, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog — formed the dominant part of the selection.

Schippert admits that there were certain themes, like alcoholism post-Berlin Wall and the sexual lives of elderly people, that were not suitable for the Indian public. “Since I have been in Chennai for a long time, I was able to understand the mindset of the public here. So, I looked at movies from a more entertaining and humouristic point of view, as German cinema is usually considered ‘serious’,” he adds.

Over 120 movies made it to the final list, of which 60 were filtered, “It was not an easy choice to make. For example, there is a 16-hour movie which didn’t make it to the list. Because we are mostly targeting at younger audience, especially women,” he says.

60 German Filmabende 1960-2020 is open to all. There will be a screening at Goethe-Institut throughtout the year. For details, call 28331314.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 9:08:54 AM |

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