Did you know that Los Angeles and Berlin have been sister cities for 50 years? This month L.A. celebrates the anniversary with two film series exploring Berlin’s past and present, and is there any city with more fascinating stories to tell?
First up is the New Berlin Cinema — Achtung Berlin Goes L.A. series, starting tonight at L.A.‘s Goethe-Institut. Given Berlin‘s reputation as a creative center, it’s not too surprising that in addition to the renowned Berlinale Film Festival that takes place every February, the city now has a second festival dedicated solely to films made in Berlin.
Each April, Achtung Berlin screens more than 80 new features, shorts and documentaries — which gives some idea of just how much production is going on in Brandenburg these days. Each Wednesday this month, the Goethe-Institut will screen an award-winning film culled from the past couple of Achtung Berlin lineups.
Journalistic accounts of contemporary Berlin inevitably focus on the same things — rising rents, partying until 8 a.m., and the difficulty of getting past the doorman at Berghain — so it will be refreshing to see a few different stories and get some insiders’ perspectives on life in the German capital today.
Kicking off the series tonight is Julia C. Kaiser’s The Hannas, a comedy about a thirtysomething couple whose long-term relationship has hit a rut. The movie won no fewer than four awards at this year‘s Achtung Berlin fest.
(I recommend The Hannas just on the basis of having seen Floating!, Kaiser’s debut feature from 2015. Floating! is a deadpan comedy about two women in Berlin who, on the eve of their wedding, attend separate bachelorette parties, which leads to near disaster. Kaiser demonstrates real visual inventiveness using just a handful of locations: much of the film takes place on a houseboat, yet it never feels static. More notable, the movie captures a certain urban milieu of people just about to hit 30 so credibly that you hardly need to be a Berliner to relate. You can check it out on the U.S. Netflix site.)
All the movies are free, and play in German with English subtitles. Complete schedule:
Wed., 9/6 (7 p.m.): The Hannas (2016, 90 min.)
Wed., 9/13 (7 p.m.): Lotte (2016, 79 min.)
Wed., 9/20 (7 p.m.):
Club Europa (2017, 82 min.)
Franziska Hoenisch‘s award-winning Club Europa is of particular interest because it‘s one of the first features to deal with the influx of refugees into Germany since 2015.
Wed., 9/27 (7 p.m.):
Millennials (2017, 80 min.)
For complete info, click here to visit the Goethe-Institut site.
The above series will segue neatly into the 11th annual German Currents film festival in October, which will feature more films from and about Berlin. Each year German Currents screens standout recent films from Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Visit this page for more info — the lineup will be announced soon.
Aber das ist nicht alles: At the end of September, and a ways down Wilshire Blvd., the UCLA Film and Television Archive and Germany’s Deutsche Kinemathek will launch a 10-film series about Berlin, covering everything from 1948’s famed Berlin Airlift through the years of the Wall, reunification and afterward. The series A City Called Home includes some exceedingly rare screenings, and is not to be missed. Click here for full info.