This weekend at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, two of my favorite things: the best new German movies… plus receptions with beer in the Egyptian’s courtyard. Co-sponsored by the L.A. Goethe-Institut, the German Currents festival has been running for seven years now, and each year’s lineup offers an ideal setting to see new German-language films that may not play L.A. again.
The move across town to the Egyptian Theatre a couple years ago has been a boon for the festival; the Egyptian’s spacious courtyard is a great location for the opening-night reception, where you might find yourself rubbing shoulders with the filmmakers and stars. (Last year the servers kept pouring complementary Erdinger beer until almost 1:00 a.m. — that’s my kind of film festival!)
This year the festival expands from three to four nights with a promising lineup. Click on the highlighted title of each film to learn more:
ALL SCREENINGS AT THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE
FRIDAY, OCT. 4th
Measuring the World
(a.k.a. Die Vermessung der Welt)
Followed by opening-night party
Based on Daniel Kehlmann’s novel (a best-seller in Germany), Measuring the World chronicles the explorations of two iconic 19th-century figures, scientist Alexander von Humboldt and mathematician Carl Gauss. Press materials describe this as “a visually stunning epic”; that’s probably no PR hype, given that the cinematographer here is the great Slawomir Idziak, who shot Kieslowski’s Blue and The Double Life of Veronique. The writer-director is Detlev Buck, whose films are showing all fall in a series at the L.A. Goethe-Institut.
SATURDAY, OCT. 5th
Both directors in person!
If you choose one event to attend at this year’s German Currents, this is likely your best bet. The documentary Beerland follows an American expat as he comes to know Germany through its regional beer cultures. You might find yourself feeling a mite thirsty when it’s over.
And Oh Boy is the standout German film of recent years, a drolly bittersweet comedy about a slacker in 21st-century Berlin. It swept this year’s German Film Awards (take that, Cloud Atlas), and it’s an auspicious debut for writer-director Jan Ole Gerster. (Click here for my review.)
SUNDAY, OCT. 6th
Matinee and Workshop:
The Adventures of Huck Finn (a.k.a. Die Abenteuer des Huck Finn)
Germany’s abiding enthusiasm for Mark Twain shows through in this new big-screen adaptation aimed at kids and their families.
“An unconventional take on the Western genre,” Gold follows a group of German immigrants caught up in — and falling out over — the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. The lead is Nina Hoss, an increasingly familiar face to American audiences; she starred as the doctor facing Stasi harassment in last year’s Barbara. The director is Thomas Arslan, whose work has been little shown in the U.S. But I can vouch that his previous film, the gritty, fatalistic crime drama Im Schatten (In the Shadows) featured such an intense, well-staged climax that I’d be curious to see anything he directs.
MONDAY, OCT. 7th
Closing reception at 6:30 p.m.
The Shine of Day
(a.k.a. Der Glanz des Tages)
More than Honey
Following The Shine of Day, a largely improvised drama from Austria with an award-winning lead performance, the documentary More Than Honey explores the real-life mystery of why bees worldwide have been dying out. The Goethe-Institut writes of the film (a winner of multiple film festival awards), “This is a strange and strangely moving film that raises questions of species survival in cosmic as well as apiary terms.”