German cinema is in Cannes with new works by Wim Wenders and films that explore Nazi propaganda, gender identity, economic crisis, romance, betrayal and fast cars.
In addition to domestic films, a dozen German co-productions are screening in this year’s Cannes Film Festival lineup, including major works from the likes of Wes Anderson, Aki Kaurismäki and Jessica Hausner.
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Wenders is in Cannes with “Perfect Days,” which is vying for the Palme d’Or, and the documentary “Anselm” in Special Screenings.
“Perfect Days” tells the story of a Tokyo janitor (Kôji Yakusho) who seems very content with his simple life, structured routines and passion for music, books and photography. A series of unexpected encounters gradually reveal more of his past. The Japanese-German co-production is sold by the Match Factory.
“Anselm” explores the work of artist Anselm Kiefer, shedding light on his life, inspirations and creative process. Shot in 3D, the documentary interweaves past and present, delving deep into the world of one of Germany’s most distinguished contemporary artists. HanWay Films is handling world sales.
German productions at this year’s Cannes Film Market, meanwhile, include Beta Cinema’s forthcoming historical drama “Fuhrer and Seducer,” which stars Austrian actor Robert Stadlober as Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s minister of propaganda. The film reteams Stadlober and director Joachim A. Lang following their collaboration on 2018’s “Mack the Knife — Brecht’s Threepenny Film.” “Fuhrer and Seducer” chronicles Goebbels’ efforts to instrumentalize Germany’s entertainment industry for the Nazis’ anti-Jewish campaign. Currently in post-production, the film is scheduled to hit theaters later this year via Wild Bunch Germany.
“The Flying Classroom,” Global Screen’s modern adaptation of Erich Kästner’s classic children’s book, follows Martina (Leni Deschner), a young girl from a working-class family in Berlin who wins a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school in a picturesque town in the Alps. Upon arrival, she becomes embroiled in a bitter class feud between the boarders and the day pupils and soon finds herself torn between academic aspirations, family responsibilities and loyalty to her newfound friends.
Written and directed by Swedish filmmaker Carolina Hellsgård (“Sunburned”), “The Flying Classroom” stars Tom Schilling, Trystan Pütter (“Toni Erdmann”) and Hannah Herzsprung.
Global Screen also presents “Falling Into Place,” a modern love story set in Scotland and London written and directed by German actress Aylin Tezel (“Unbroken”), who also stars alongside Chris Fulton (“Outlander”). The story follows a romance between Kira and Ian, two 30-somethings who meet on the Isle of Skye while on the run from themselves.
Kilian Riedhof ’s World War II drama “Stella. A Life.,” another Global Screen title, tells the factbased story of a young Jewish woman in Berlin who is arrested by the Gestapo, tortured, threatened with deportation and ultimately forced into betraying other Jews in hiding.
Making their market premieres via Beta Cinema are two recent box office hits in Germany, actress-director Karoline Herfurth’s “Simply Complicated” and “Oskar’s Dress,” by Huseyin Tabak.
Herfurth (“Text for You”) stars alongside Aaron Altaras (“Mario”) in “Simply Complicated,” a heartfelt comedy about a young woman who decides to have children — with or without a partner.
In “Oskar’s Dress,” an overwhelmed father (Florian David Fitz) runs up against his own limits of acceptance as he struggles with his child’s search for identity. Senta Berger (“Welcome to Germany”) and Burghart Klausner (“The People vs. Fritz Bauer”) also star.
The Munich-based sales company also presents “Adios Buenos Aires,” by German Kral (“Our Last Tango”). The Spanish-language German production follows the members of a tango band in Buenos Aires as they try to survive the economic crisis and political upheaval that gripped Argentina in 2001.
In addition, Beta Cinema is pre-selling four new titles: “From Hilde With Love,” a fact-based, Nazi-era drama by Andreas Dresen (“Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush”) that stars Liv Lisa Fries (“Babylon Berlin”) as a young woman who falls in love with a politically active anti-fascist. She is later arrested while eight months pregnant and forced to give birth in prison, where she is horrified to learn of her impending execution.
In “Black Box,” co-produced by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, director Asli Özge (“Men on the Bridge”) explores gentrification, prejudices and power plays in the microcosm of a Berlin apartment building. For undisclosed reasons, the entrances and exits of the building have been blocked; no one can get in or out. Left in the dark by the police, the residents begin to speculate and emotions rise. Luise Heyer (“The Most Beautiful Couple”) leads an ensemble cast.
In Markus Goller’s (“25 km/h”) “One for the Road,” described as the German answer to “Another Round,” Frederick Lau stars as a construction manager who, after losing his driver’s license, bets his friend that he will stop drinking until he can pass the court-ordered medical and psychological examination needed to get it back. Things don’t go as planned, however. Sony Pictures is releasing the thought-provoking drama in Germany later this year.
Likewise unveiling new titles on the Croisette is the Playmaker, with a lineup that includes Lukas Rinker’s eco-horror thriller “Paws,” which follows a young scientist on a research ship who gets stranded in the Arctic and caught between a ravenous polar bear, an unscrupulous oil tycoon and Russian mercenaries.
Also offered is Florian Westermann’s animated feature “Pirate Mo and the Legend of the Red Ruby” as well as live-action family films “Mission: School of Fun,” from Ekrem Ergün, and “Wow! Message From Outer Space,” from Felix Binder.
Julia Becker’s comedy “Over & Out” follows a group of longtime female friends who meet up after 20 years to attend a wedding in Italy, where they encounter a morbid surprise.
The Playmaker is also presenting a restored version of Marc Rothemund 2005 Nazi-era classic “Sophie Scholl — The Final Days.”
Til Schweiger’s huge local hit “Manta Manta: Legacy,” a sequel to the 1991 action-comedy “Manta, Manta” — a massive box office success at the time — is among Picture Tree Intl.’s Cannes lineup.
PTI Titles also include Marc Rothemund’s father-and-son pic “Weekend Rebels,” Lars Kraume’s colonial drama “Measures of Men” and Hans Steinbichler “A Whole Life.”
Offering a tale of magical realism that explores the impact of loss and human connections is Natalie MacMahon’s Berlin-set psychological coming-of-age drama “The Meaning of a Ritual.” The story follows two women from different generations, a young plant doctor with extrasensory powers and an emotionally unstable, isolated artist, who are forced to save each other.
MacMahon is presenting the film at the Cannes market via MacMahon Media.
In addition, German producers are involved in a large number of international co-productions unspooling in the festival’s various sections.
Among the high-profile titles in competition is Anderson’s 1950s-set comedy “Asteroid City,” whose producers include Studio Babelsberg.
Kaurismäki’s “Fallen Leaves,” a Finnish-German work co-produced by Cologne-based Pandora Film and sold by the Match Factory, follows two lonely people (Alma Pöysti and Jussi Vatanen) who meet by chance in the Helsinki night and try to find their first, only and ultimate love.
Hausner makes her return to Cannes with “Club Zero,” a psychological drama about a manipulative teacher (Mia Wasikowska) at an elite school whose close bond with students has dangerous consequences. The Austrian-U.K.-German-French-Danish co-production is sold by Coproduction Office.
Other prominent German co-productions include Marco Bellocchio’s Italian historical drama “Kidnapped”; Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters”; and Turkish helmer Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “About Dry Grasses.”
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