PORTLAND GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL – Monthly Film Series
In our Monthly Film Series, we will show a variety of GERMAN or GERMAN language films from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. On the 2nd Wednesday of each month, audiences will now have a chance to see these films on a regular basis at the CLINTON STREET THEATER. (Children movies will be playing on Sunday afternoons – please check our website.) All films are with English subtitles.
Remembering Romy Schneider on the 35th anniversary of her death.
The Austrian-born actress Romy Schneider (1938–1982) began her career as the teen-aged star of a series of popular films about the young Austro-Hungarian Empress Elisabeth (“Sissi”). But the “German Shirley Temple” soon transformed herself into a sensual, intelligent young actress who garnered international attention when Italian director Luchino Visconti featured her in his segment of the 1962 omnibus film Boccaccio ’70. She rose to further prominence through a wide range of often challenging collaborations with some of the world’s most renowned film directors, including work with Orson Welles in The Trial, Otto Preminger in The Cardinal, Claude Sautet in Les Choses de la vie, Joseph Losey in The Assassination of Trotsky, and Bertrand Tavernier in Death Watch. Twenty years after her tragic and untimely passing, these films serve as a testament not only to her stunning screen presence but her great versatility as an actress.
Perhaps the quintessential Heimatfilm, Sissi resembles a kind of mass, popular dream: a Bavarian princess meets, falls in love with, and eventually marries the Austrian emperor Franz Josef. It was the sort of perfect idyll that allowed audiences to forget the strains they faced in reconstructing a country destroyed in World War II. The landscape of the Alps, where the couple meets, is indispensable to the romantic aspects of the story; the sets and costumes at the Vienna court are extravagant; and the marriage scene—the film’s high point—gives way to a marvelous operetta. A large part of the film’s success was due to the luminous beauty of then seventeen-year-old Schneider. Sissi and its two sequels made Schneider the darling of the film-going public.
This month the Portland German Film Festival remembers Rainer Werner Fassbinder on the 35th Anniversary of his death with the screening of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.
In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder discovered the American melodramas of Douglas Sirk and was inspired by them to begin working in a new, more intensely emotional register. One of the first and best-loved films of this period in his career is The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, which balances a realistic depiction of tormented romance with staging that remains true to the director’s roots in experimental theater. This unforgettable, unforgiving dissection of the imbalanced relationship between a haughty fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) and a beautiful but icy ingenue (Hanna Schygulla)—based, in a sly gender reversal, on the writer-director’s own desperate obsession with a young actor—is a true Fassbinder affair, featuring exquisitely claustrophobic cinematography by Michael Ballhaus and full-throttle performances by an all-female cast.
Perhaps Fassbinder’s most controversial film — he subtitled it “An Image of Sickness” — The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant was vilified by gay critics when it opened in New York. (Defending it in The Village Voice, Molly Haskell called the film a “tragi-comic love story disguised as a lesbian slumber party in high-camp drag.”) In a huis clos boudoir dominated by white mannequins and a massive Poussin fresco of Midas and Bacchus, three women act out a vicious power struggle to the musical accompaniment of Verdi and The Platters. A successful fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) falls in love with one of her young models (Hanna Schygulla), who does not return her affection; their pas de deux of emotional mastery and submission is monitored by the designer’s mute, obedient “slave girl” (Irm Hermann). The outlandish wigs and ensembles — incarcerating sheath and sequined toga, bullet bodices and bejewelled brassieres, a jumbo red-rose choker — are bested for decadence only by Petra’s immortal take-out order for ten bottles of gin. (The film provides its own tonic.) “Still has no equal in its simultaneous delight in ‘style’ while pouring acid over the image” (David Thomson).
Cast: Lucas Gregorowicz, Frederick Lau, Anna Bederke, Lars Rudolph, Heiko Pinkowski, Jan-Gregor Kremp
Mirko Talhammer (Lucas Gregorowicz) is beside himself when two strangers show up at his posh insurance office to remind him where he really comes from: a provincial scrapyard, where careers are not what counts and other things are more important: scrapping things, the family, and every once in a while, a good old fist fight. Mirko thought he had left all that behind, but his father messed things up big time before he died and left his son the run-down scrapyard – along with his brother Letscho (Frederick Lau, Victoria, The Wave). Letscho is still ticked off that Mirko deserted the clan. Soon the brothers realize that the Talhammers could only have a future if they can pull themselves together and fulfill their father’s last wish: to rob a train like real professionals. The coup itself is already a suicide mission, but then Kercher, the Talhammer’s biggest nemesis, gets wind of things…
Following his Oscar®-nominated short film Raju, Max Zähle dedicates his feature film debut to a bizarre and largely unknown culture marked by long-standing tradition: scrap dealers. Scrappin’ sheds light on this sometimes weird but always loveable milieu and tells the story of a family that needs to overcome their differences in order to keep the family business going.