So what was the best German cinema had to offer in 2014 and what’s new in 2015? It’s a pretty big country with an impressive film history to start with. And I even took the liberty to include, next to German films, Austrian films, which made it even harder to come up with a top five, since Austria has a pretty interesting industry of itself as well. Anyway, some interesting things happened. There was a promising newcomer (Jan Ole Gerster) and the return to the big screen of Edgar Reitz, one of Germany’s grand old men of cinema. So last year Germany gave us something to look forward to in the future, but even more so a reason to revisit one of its most beloved film series (Heimat). But first you can find the new best German films in 2015.
Preview: new German cinema in 2015
Our most anticipated new German films in 2015.
Toni Erdmann (2015)
Directed by Maren Ade
Starring Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller and Hadewych Minis
Maren Ade, who directed the underrated Alle Anderen (2009) will be back in 2015 with her next film, which seems to be a big budget project with a large international cast. Reportedly, the film is about a father trying to connect with his adult. This ain’t much to grasp on, but given Ade’s shown potential in her previous efforts, we’re very much looking forward to this.
Directed by Michael Haneke
The Great German Director Michael Haneke has produced films in several countries, so we’re not even sure yet if this upcoming project is a German film at all. All we know it’s about a group of characters connected through the internet. Given Haneke’s austere steez it’s likely to be a tale about the dark side effects that come along with the online life.
Other interesting 2015 releases from Germany:
– A Hologram for the King – Directed by Tom Tykwer
– Queen of the Desert – Directed by Werner Herzog
– Every Thing Will Be Fine – Directed by Wim Wenders
– Death to Hippies, Long Live Punk – Directed by Oskar Roehler
– When Dreaming – Directed by Andreas Dresen
– The Abhandene World – Directed by Margarethe Von Trotta
– Ich & Kaminsky – Directed by Wolfgang Becker
Top 7 of German cinema in the 2010’s
Stations of the Cross/Kreuzweg (2014)
Directed by Dietrich Brüggemann
Starring Lea van Acken, Franziska Weisz and Florian Stetter
Stations of the Cross tells the story of the radically devote Catholic fourteen year old girl Maria who wants to become a saint. Through fourteen separate chapters (parallel to the fourteen stations Jesus had to pass on his way to Golgotha),we’re witnessing her journey. In line with the austerity of the plot ( in so far there is one), director Brüggeman shot the entire film with a stationary camera. This doesn’t make Stations of the Cross an easy watch per se, but it encourages the audience to contemplate on the film’s thought evoking theme.
The Strange Little Cat (2014)
Directed by Ramon Zürcher
Starring Leon Alan Beiersdorf, Matthias Dittmer and Lea Drager
The Strange Little Cat is what you call a slow burner. It screened at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2013, but it wasn’t until a couple of months ago before the blogosphere started to pick it up. In this remarkable little gem in the veins of Jacques Tati’s observational humorist films, we follow a middle class German family from dusk till dawn. Nothing much happens and the camera barely leaves the apartment but first time director Zürcher succeeds in showing the mundane in such a way that it becomes absurd.
Paradies: Hoffnung (2013)
Directed by Ulrich Seidl
Featuring Melanie Lenz, Verena Lehbauer and Joseph Lorenz
The final part of Ulrich Siedl’s much acclaimed Paradies trilogy. You have to like the visual style of his films, which is quite stern with its many super symmetrical (yet beautifully composed) static shots. The three films are interconnected, as they deal with three related women, but they can be seen separately perfectly. Hoffnung tells the story of Melanie (Paradies: Liebe’s Theresa’s daughter), who is sent to a summer fat camp, much against her will. Her mood changes, however, when she falls in love with the camps’ elegant physician. A love destined to fail. Poignant, confronting and funny.
Oh Boy (2013)
Directed by Jan Ole Gerster
Featuring Tom Schilling, Inga Birkenfeld and Martin Brambach
Jan Ole Gerster’s debut feature film won about every award there is to win in Germany last year. Whether it received a little bit too much praise or not is debatable, but yet it’s hard to deny that Oh Boy is refreshing debut. In my local cinema it was released in the same week as Noah Baumbach’s excellent Frances Ha. And indeed these two films would make a nice double bill. Both films, shot in black and white and clearly paying homage to Woody Allen’s Manhattan, deal with restless, self-centered twentysomethings who seem to drown in modern day’s first world problems.
Zwei Leben (2013)
Directed by Georg Maas
Featuring iv Ullmann, Dennis Storhøi and Ken Duken
Katrine, in her fifties and happily married, lives in Norway after she managed to escape the GDR’s iron grip in the late sixties. When the Berlin Wall falls in ’89 however, information about her past is about to be released and it becomes clear some things are not quite what they seem. German films like these can be pretty hard to judge on its actual cinematic qualities, since the actual historical happenings are so interesting the film will grasp you attention anyway. Let’s put it this way: the choice to select this film as the German entry for the Best Foreign Film at the Oscars last February was a pretty safe one.
Directed by Cate Shortland
Featuring askia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs and Kai-Peter Malina
You don’t see that many World War two films from a German’s point of few, which makes this German youth film all the more interesting. The story takes off when the war is over. Lore, fourteen year old, is the daughter of an established Nazi officer who sees herself and her infant siblings forced to flee as her parents become outlaws all of a sudden. As she travels the country by foot, she finds out what exactly was going on the last five years, which makes her question her firm beliefs in the Nazi ideology. An honest and nuanced film with some stunning photography as well.
Die Andere Heimat: Chronik einer Sehnsucht (2013)
Directed by Edgar Reitz
Featuring Jan Schneider, Marita Breuer and Melanie Fouché
A prequel to Reitz’ much acclaimed and utterly ambitious Heimat trilogy, which covers the lives of a few generations of the Simon family, while showing Germany’s tumultuous modern history along their paths. Chronik einer Sehnsucht takes place in 1842, at a time when a lot of Germans from the rural parts of the country emigrated and tried their luck in the America’s. The film’s main protagonist, Jakob Simon, dreams of leaving too. A beautiful and deeply melancholy film about having dreams and not being able to make those come true as people are often too deeply rooted in what they call their heimat. The film takes its time (nearly four hours) and often challenges the viewer, as it is not without flaws, but is extremely rewarding in the end. A stunning and highly authentic look into the lives of nineteenth-century common German villagers.
Feel free to share your pick of the best German movies with us!