In February, Birmingham’s International Film Society is teaming up with the Goethe-Institut to show a short season of recent films from Germany. Following the theme “Changing Germany”, the films have been chosen for their various perspectives on contemporary Germany and the country’s social and political changes.
The season kicks off on Tuesday, 5 February, with two films about migration. They will be introduced by Leila Mukhida from the University of Birmingham and Dr Claudia Gremler, Lecturer in German here at Aston. The screenings will take place at the Library Theatre in Paradise Forum (map). For students, tickets are £3.50 per film or £6 for the double bill.
The first film is Feo Aladag’s directorial debut “Die Fremde” (“When We Leave”), a powerful portrayal of a young woman’s struggle to lead a self-determined life. Having grown up in Germany, Umay now lives in her native Turkey with her abusive husband. When she decides to leave him and returns with her young son to her parents’ house in Berlin, she fails to foresee the dramatic consequences of her actions.
Starring Sibel Kekilli, who rose to fame in 2004 with Fatih Akin’s highly appraised “Gegen die Wand” (“Head-On”), another Turkish-German drama that dealt with the challenges of interculturalism, “Die Fremde” was very well received. It won numerous international awards for its candid depiction of the private dimensions of cultural conflict and the effects of male control over women’s lives.
The second film for the evening will be Hans Christian Schmid’s “Lichter” (“Distant Lights”). Schmid is known to British audiences for hard-hitting dramas that often focus on characters in crisis.
In 2006, his remarkable film “Requiem” told the true story of a devout Catholic student in the German province, who attempts to combat her epilepsy with exorcism and suffers fatal consequences. Three years later, Schmid embarked on an international co-production, “Storm”, which explored the legacy of the Yugoslav wars.
“Lichter”‘s sobering subject matter is in line with many of Schmid’s other works. The film is set in the border region between Germany and Poland, in the years before Poland joined the EU. Inspired by Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts”, the film combines a multitude of characters and many different episodes to offer a fascinating yet sad portrayal of life in a region which is shaped by struggle and disillusion. In the film we encounter a group of economic migrants from Eastern Europe, attempting to cross the border into Germany. But it’s not easy to escape police control and whom do you turn to when you are stranded in a foreign country? Schmid carefully dissects his characters’ naive hopes and dreams and demonstrates the misleading allure of life elsewhere.
Two more films will be shown on 27 February. They deal with the role of memory and remembrance in contemporary Germany. We will bring you more details nearer the time, so watch this space!