Monday, April 13, 2009

Germany vs. Turkey

No, Europe is not at war, though Melbourne is being bombarded by European cinema. We've recently had the French Film Festival, La Mirada: Jewels of Spanish Cinema concludes today and this week sees the start of two festivals running concurrently.

The Festival of German Films opens on Thursday (16th) with the much-lauded The Baader-Meinhof Complex. Screenings of 30 films will be held until Sunday the 26th at the Como and the Kino cinemas, an advantage of the relatively new Kino/Palace partnership. The Melbourne Turkish Film Festival is a new event, opening on Sunday (19th), screening only seven films at ACMI until Thursday 24th April.

While the French Film Festival is my favourite outside of MIFF, I find its focus on commercial cinema a bit disappointing. I still usually manage to find close to a dozen serious films to see, but there seemed to be little edgy material this year. I'm of the opinion that film festivals should be a showcase of cultural and artistic excellence, not just those likely to attract the largest number of bums on seats. Both the Turkish and German festivals appear on face value to be aiming in this direction. There's not a whole lot in the way of comedy, with the focus on drama.

Reunification is a theme of this year's German festival, with a retrospective of films from the former GDR (East Germany). In addition, contemporary films such as November Child, 12 Means I Love You and Peaceful Times also address the topic.

My focus at the Festival of German Films is largely on the six-film retrospective, as well as Billy Wilder's 1961 comedy, One, Two, Three, which commenced filming in Berlin just prior to the Berlin wall's construction, which consequently disrupted the film's completion. In spite of being canned at Cannes, I'm also interested to see Wim Wender's Palermo Shooting. Others that I'm giving priority to include Cloud 9 (which has won various awards including the Un certain regard award at Cannes), Trade (a film about human trafficking like Australia's The Jammed), Lulu and Jimi and Eye to Eye - All about German Film, a documentary about a cinema of German cinema. The Baader Meinhof Complex also looks like it's worth seeing, bearing in mind that it has a theatrical release date (7 May 2009).

Australians don't get much exposure to Turkish cinema. Greater Union and Hoyts screen the occasional melodrama or B-grade action flick, but something tells me the Turkish films won't be anything like this. In fact, Three Monkeys was not only one of my favourite films at MIFF last year, but also one of my favourite films of the year, period. All the Turkish films look like serious films. There's only eight screenings, so I'll list them all here (check out ACMI's website for details). Note that the opening and closing night films are invitation only.

I don't know how to wrangle it, what with life and the German festival happening, but I'm going to try to see all of these, with the exception of Three Monkeys, as it conflicts with the Louis Malle screenings at Melbourne Cinémathèque.
  • Sun 19 Apr 7:30 PM - Sonbahar (Autumn, Özcan Alper, Turkey, 2008) - opening night
  • Mon 20 Apr 7:15 PM - Sonbahar (Autumn, Özcan Alper, Turkey, 2008)
  • Tue 21 Apr 7:15 PM - Yumurta (Egg, Semih Kaplanoglu, Turkey/Greece, 2007)
  • Wed 22 Apr 5:30 PM - Selvi boylum, al yazmalim (The Girl with the Red Scarf, Atif Yilmaz, Turkey, 1977)
  • Wed 22 Apr 8:00 PM - Üç maymun (Three Monkeys, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey/France/Italy, 2008)
  • Thu 23 Apr 5:30 PM - Susuz yaz (Dry Summer, Metin Erksan, Turkey, 1964)
  • Thu 23 Apr 8:00 PM - Dilberi'in sekiz günü (Dilber's Eight Days, Cemal San, Turkey, 2008)
  • Fri 24 Apr 7:00 PM - Pandora'nin kutusu (Pandora's Box, Yesim Ustaoglu, Turkey/France/Belgium/Germany, 2008) - closing night

OFLC Film Classification
A point of interest that has pretty much flown under the radar is that changes have been made to OFLC classifications. Until recently, to receive a classification, a film's distributor (in this context, a festival) had to apply to the OFLC, pay a hefty sum, receive a classification and thus make a film accessible to under 18 year olds (unless it received an R-rating). I've read nothing anywhere about the changes, but first noticed during the French Film Festival that virtually every film had a classification. In most instances, it was an MA15+, even when it was clear that a film was intended at a younger audience. From what I understand, most of those films (those without post-festival cinema releases) were not given OFLC classification; the festival organisers
assigned the classifications themselves. It was then up to parents to determine what was suitable for their children.

This is a fantastic step forward, something I've been whinging about for years. Until now, it's been illegal for high school media students, for example, to attend important film festivals, which was just ridiculous. Festivals and parents should be free to decide what's suitable for their children, rather than the arbitrary blanket black-ban for under-18s we've had for many years. Now, I've gleaned much of this, so if anyone has more authoritative information they'd like to share or provide links, I'd love to hear about it.

I've noticed that all the German films are listed with classifications. Aside from the five with G or PG and clearly suitable for children, there's a number of others with M that may also be suited. From my perspective, it means I can get to more films as it becomes a family event rather than me slinking away on my own to see a film (you can only do that so much without flak from the missus).

The Turkish films at ACMI are all unclassified and I noticed that the same was true of the La Mirada screenings at ACMI. Maybe ACMI hasn't woken to the changes, or there's some other reason.

1 comment:

John said...

Hi Paul thanks for the German FF review and especially for informing us which films will get a commercial release.

Of all the Palace festivals this is my favourite. This year for the first totally missed the French FF although checking your blog at the time I noted a few of them were getting a commercial release. So have since seen Summer Hours (not my cup of tea) and looking forward to Paris 36.

With the GFF I'm a big fan of Martina Gedeke so have shorlisted Clara and note she's also in THe Baader Meinhof complex. Summer Storm appeals due to its location... a bit like Summer '04 from a former festival, Peaceful Times and The Invention of the Curried Sausage should fit in well and build on the period of the Reader. Happy New Year looks interesting.. the synopsis reminds me more of a Greek film. The Friend appeals due to the story line.

Have a free double pass to the festival so that's a start. Outside of any of these films that eventually make it to SBS finding subtitled German films is a bit of a battle.

Diversing slightly I bought back a couple of French DVDS from France last year with no English subtitles. Odette Toulemonde (seen here in a French FF) and The Heart of Men 2. I know you're studying French. Fiddling around with these over the weekend I think the French sub-titles might allow me to decipher these and make sense with my school boy French. In large cities like Strasborg you'll find VO (version originale) films playing... English language with sub titles in French... now that was novel.