The Berlin School

Films from the Berliner Schule at MoMA.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule opening night reception at MoMA's Terrace 5
The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule opening night reception at MoMA's Terrace 5 Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Rajendra Roy, the Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and independent film critic Anke Leweke have organised The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule at MoMA, running from November 20 through December 06, 2013. Some of the filmmakers participating in this impressive program are Angela Schanelec with Orly and Mein langsames Leben (Passing Summer), Ulrich Köhler with Bungalow and Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness). Actor Nina Hoss will present with Christian Petzold, Barbara and Jerichow and with Thomas Arslan, Gold.

Arslan will also present two of his earlier films Geschwister (Brothers And Sisters) and Im Schatten (In The Shadows).

Also appearing in post-screening discussions are Benjamin Heisenberg with his cinematographer Reinhold Vorschneider for Der Räuber (The Robber) and Christoph Hochhäusler, director of Falscher Bekenner (I Am Guilty) and Unter Dir Die Stadt (The City Below).

Heisenberg and Hochhäusler are co-editors of Revolver and will present an evening on their film magazine.

Co-organizer Anke Leweke with director Christian Petzold
Co-organizer Anke Leweke with director Christian Petzold Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Last night for the opening of The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule, Christian Petzold introduced his film Die Innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In).

From the program with the screenings and filmmakers scheduled to appear:

Alle Anderen (Everyone Else)

2009. Germany. Directed by Maren Ade. With Lars Eidinger, Birgit Minichmayr, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Nicole Marischka. A young couple, Gitti and Chris, are vacationing at his parents’ home beneath the warm Sardinian sun. They are thoroughly contemporary Germans: she is confident, headstrong, and amorous; he is thoughtful, sensitive, and sweetly sexy. Their mutual attraction and compatibility is clear, but they are not immune to each other’s potential for cruelty. Winner, Jury Award and Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival. In German; English subtitles. 119 min.

Thursday, November 21, 4:00 p.m. - Monday, December 2, 8:00 p.m.

Geschwister (Brothers And Sisters)

1997. Germany. Directed by Thomas Arslan. With Tamer Yigit, Serpil Turhan, Savas Yurderi. The camera follows the siblings Erol, Ahmed, and Leyla through their daily life. One brother lives day to day and, with no prospects, considers going back to Turkey to do his military service. The other, by contrast, speaks perfect German, is at the top of his class, and has a girlfriend. Their sister is very much going her own way. In German; English subtitles. 82 min.

Thursday, November 21, 7:00 p.m., (Post-screening discussion with Thomas Arslan) - Saturday, November 30, 4:00 p.m.

Mein langsames Leben (Passing Summer)

2001. Germany. Directed by Angela Schanelec. With Ursina Lardi, Andreas Patton, Anne Tismer. In the languid heat of summer, a group of Berliners see their lives intersect. Schanelec captures her characters’ relationships, crises, and fleeting conversations in controlled compositions, heightened by the ambient soundscape of the city’s cafés and streets. In German; English subtitles. 85 min.

Friday, November 22, 4:00 p.m., (Post-screening discussion with Angela Schanelec) - Sunday, December 1, 2:00 p.m.

Jerichow

2008. Germany. Directed by Christian Petzold. With Nina Hoss, Benno Fürmann, Hilmi Sözer. Harnessing his admiration for American literature and genre storytelling, Petzold delivers what has been described as a Berlin School take on James M. Cain’s pulp novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. A love triangle involving a restless wife, her menacing husband, and the handsome ex-soldier who enters and disrupts their life. In German; English subtitles. 93 min.

Friday, November 22, 7:00 p.m., (Post-screening discussion with Christian Petzold and Nina Hoss) - Monday, December 2, 4:30 p.m.

New York representative for German Films Service + Marketing Oliver Mahrdt with co-organizer Rajendra Roy, the Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, MoMA
New York representative for German Films Service + Marketing Oliver Mahrdt with co-organizer Rajendra Roy, the Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film, MoMA Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Gold

2013. Germany. Directed by Thomas Arslan. With Nina Hoss, Marko Mandic. Canada, 1898. A group of German settlers travel toward the far north in covered wagons, with packhorses and their few possessions in tow. They are hoping to find their fortune in the recently discovered goldfields of Dawson, but they have no idea of the stresses and dangers that lie ahead on their 2,500-kilometer journey. In German; English subtitles. 101 min.

Friday, November 22, 8:00 p.m. (Post-screening discussion with Thomas Arslan, Nina Hoss) - Sunday, December 1, 2:30 p.m.

Falscher Bekenner (I Am Guilty)

2005. Germany. Directed by Christoph Hochhäusler. With Constantin von Jascheroff, Viktoria Trauttmansdorff, Manfred Zapatka. Armin graduated high school, but he isn’t going anywhere. He lives in the suburbs with his parents, who hover around him, hoping he’ll amount to something. He begins making anonymous claims of responsibility for crimes he sees on the news—first as a lark, then obsessively, returning to the scene of the crime and skulking around police stations. In German; English subtitles. 90 min.

Saturday, November 23, 1:30 p.m. (Post-screening discussion with Christoph Hochhäusler) - Friday, December 6, 4:00 p.m.

Schlafkrankheit (Sleeping Sickness)

2011. Germany/France/Netherlands. Directed by Ulrich Köhler. With Pierre Bokma, Jean-Christophe Folly, Jenny Schily. Ulrich Köhler transplants the oft described “clinical” Berlin School aesthetics to a scrupulously unsanitized Africa, and exposes the ability of this visionary movement to locate itself beyond the borders of Europe, and engage with transnational narratives. His dislocated characters, grappling with identities at odds with their origins are both localised and universal. Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival. In German, French; English subtitles. 91 min.

Saturday, November 23, 4:00 p.m. (Post-screening discussion with Ulrich Köhler) - Friday, November 29, 4:30 p.m.

Barbara

2012. Germany. Directed by Christian Petzold. With Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Klaus Schütz. Summer in the German Democratic Republic in 1980. Barbara, a doctor, has submitted an application to emigrate to the West. Instead she is punished by being posted far from the capital, to a hospital in a small town. Jörg, her lover in the West, is busy planning her escape. It‘s a waiting game for Barbara. In German; English subtitles. 105 min.

Saturday, November 23, 7:30 p.m. (Introduced by Christian Petzold, Nina Hoss) - Friday, December 6, 7:00 p.m.

Der Räuber (The Robber)

2010. Germany/Austria. Directed by Benjamin Heisenberg. With Andreas Lust, Franziska Weisz. Based on a true story, the film follows Johann Rettenberger, a marathon runner and bank robber who, upon his release from prison, returns to auto theft and armed robbery, operations that he approaches with clinical precision and seemingly no emotion. In German; English subtitles. 90 min.

Sunday, November 24, 2:00 p.m., (Post-screening discussion with Benjamin Heisenberg and cinematographer Reinhold Vorschneider) - Friday, November 29, 7:00 p.m.

Sehnsucht (Longing)

2006. Germany. Directed by Valeska Grisebach. With Andreas Müller, Ella Koplin, Rose Kuchenbecker. In a small German town, an affair introduces friction into an otherwise blissfully uneventful marriage. Markus loves his wife Ella—they’ve been close since they were children—but nothing feels the same. In German; English subtitles. 88 min.

Sunday, November 24, 2:30 p.m. - Tuesday, December 3, 7:00 p.m.

Unter Dir Die Stadt (The City Below)

2010. Germany. Directed by Christoph Hochhäusler. With Robert Hunger-Bühler, Mark Waschke, Nicolette Krebitz. As the head of a bank, a king in a glass tower overlooking Frankfurt’s financial district, Roland is used to having his way. A moment of attraction with Svenja, a woman he encounters at an art gallery, soon escalates from flirtation to the two strangers, both married, finding themselves in a hotel room. In German; English subtitles. 105 min.

Sunday, November 24, 5:00 p.m. (Post-screening discussion with Christoph Hochhäusler) - Sunday, December 1, 5:00 p.m.

Bungalow

2002. Germany. Directed by Ulrich Köhler. With Lennie Burmeister, Devid Striesow, Trine Dyrholm. A young man, aimless but adventurous, progressing through life without purpose, takes advantage of an opportunity to step away from the herd, head in the opposite direction, and investigate himself. This is the stage that Köhler sets at the outset of his debut film, which encapsulates the poetics and problematics of the Berlin School through the experiences of a would-be solider gone A.W.O.L. In German; English subtitles. 85 min.

Monday, November 25, 4:00 p.m. (Post-screening discussion with Ulrich Köhler) - Wednesday, December 4, 7:00 p.m.

An Evening with Christoph Hochhäusler and Benjamin Heisenberg

In conjunction with Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule, filmmakers Christoph Hochhäusler and Benjamin Heisenberg talk about their influences, their work, and the difficulty of grouping a loose association of contemporary German auteurs under the rubric of the “Berlin School.” Though varied in their preoccupations and strategies, the Berlin School filmmakers tend to be united by an interest in writing and criticism; Hochhäusler and Heisenberg discuss the publication Revolver, of which they are co-editors, and its role as a hub for conversation, discovery, and debate.

Monday, November 25, 7:00 p.m.

Madonnen (Madonnas)

2007. Germany/Switzerland/Belgium. Directed by Maria Speth. With Sandra Hüller, Luisa Sappelt, Coleman Orlando Swinton, Susanne Lothar. “You were never a mother to me,” Rita accuses her mother Isabella. But how is the young woman dealing with her own children? When she isn’t leaving them with the hated Isabella, Rita does attempt to lead a kind of family life with Marc, a U.S. soldier stationed in Germany. In German; English subtitles. 120 min.

Tuesday, November 26, 4:00 p.m. - Saturday, November 30, 7:30 p.m.

Im Schatten (In The Shadows)

2010. Germany. Directed by Thomas Arslan. With Mišel Maticevic, Karoline Eichhorn. Upon his release from jail, Trojan goes straight back to his gangster ways; he gets hold of a weapon and looks out for new gigs. Since crime makes up Trojan’s daily existence, the film concentrates entirely on the technical nature of a life outside the law. In German; English subtitles. 85 min.

Wednesday, November 27, 4:00 p.m. - Tuesday, December 3, 4:00 p.m.

Orly

2010. Germany/France. Directed by Angela Schanelec. With Josse De Pauw, Maren Eggert, Natacha Régnier. Spending time in an airport is like finding yourself in a moment of transition. While you are waiting, you are nowhere, someplace in between. In Orly, four couples inhabit the liminal space of the titular Parisian airport’s departure hall: a man and a woman who just met; a mother and her teenage son on their way to a funeral; a young couple embarking on their first big trip; a woman who reads a letter from the man she has recently left. In German, French; English subtitles. 84 min.

Friday, November 29, 4:00 p.m. - Wednesday, December 4, 4:00 p.m.

Nina Hoss in Christian Petzold's Barbara
Nina Hoss in Christian Petzold's Barbara

Den Wald Vor Lauter Bäumen (The Forest For The Trees)

2003. Germany. Directed by Maren Ade. With Eva Löbau, Daniela Holtz, Jan Neumann. In director Ade’s feature debut a young woman, Melanie, has a vision of her future, or at least what it should be. Determined to establish a better life for herself and her community, the slightly awkward Melanie moves away from her family and her lethargic boyfriend to teach a new generation in a new town in the German provinces. In German; English subtitles. 81 min.

Saturday, November 30, 1:30 p.m. - Thursday, December 5, 4:00 p.m.

Die Innere Sicherheit (The State I Am In)

2000. Germany. Directed by Christian Petzold. With Julia Hummer, Barbara Auer, Richy Müller. Clara and Hans, still wanted by the police for their participation in acts of terrorism more than 15 years ago, are living under false identities. From their point of view they have committed only one deadly sin: conceiving and bringing up a child, Jeanne, who, as she grows older, is likely to demand more freedom and risk blowing their cover. In German; English subtitles. 106 min.

Saturday, November 30, 2:00 p.m.

The Berlin School: Films from the Berliner Schule is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, edited by Rajendra Roy, Anke Leweke with texts by Thomas Arslan, Valeska Grisebach, Benjamin Heisenberg, Christoph Hochhäusler, Nina Hoss, Dennis Lim, Katja Nicodemus, Christian Petzold, Rainer Rother.

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