Germany’s Golden Globe win for contemporary drama “In the Fade” has put one of its leading filmmakers in the international spotlight and further boosted the profile of an industry once known mostly for movies rooted in the country’s troubled past.
“In the Fade,” by director Fatih Akin’s film is Germany’s candidate for the foreign-language Oscar as well. It scooped a best actress award for Diane Kruger at the Cannes Film Festival last May. Sunday’s Golden Globe success comes on top of a number of other international prizes.
“It’s the first award in this category for a German film in eight years and a great success for German film in Hollywood,” said Bernd Neumann, president of the German Federal Film Board and former federal commissioner for culture and media. “Now the eyes are on the 23rd of January. It will then be decided whether Fatih Akin’s extraordinary film will enter the race for an Oscar nomination – we are keeping our fingers crossed.”
Maria Köpf, managing director of regional funder Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, which supported the production, added: “The shower of awards continues. [Our] team is hoping for a Hamburg-triple of Cannes [prize], Golden Globe and Oscar trophy.”
“In the Fade” centers on a woman seeking justice against neo-Nazis for the murder of her husband and son. It’s the latest in a recent string of critically acclaimed German films that have met with success at home and abroad, and that are not set during World War II or the Cold War.
Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” proved a major international hit in 2016, sweeping the European Film Awards that year as well as the 2017 German Film Awards, including film, director, actress, actor and screenwriter. It scored a foreign-language Oscar nomination and picked up many other prizes around the globe.
Jan Zabeil’s contemporary family drama “Three Peaks,” starring Alexander Fehling, won the Variety Piazza Grande Award in Locarno and made its North American premiere in Toronto. Fehling also appeared in Robert Schwentke’s award-winning World War II drama “Der Hauptmann” (“The Captain”), which likewise bowed in Toronto.
While German films have often focused on stories about the Holocaust or about East Germany under communist control, most recent hits have found success with striking examinations of the present.
Valeska Grisebach’s “Western,” about a group of German construction workers at a remote job site in Bulgaria, premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section last year and went on to win a slew of international awards. Variety critic Guy Lodge wrote: “Without advertising itself as such, ‘Western’ could be viewed as a wry reflection of the European Union’s sometimes fractious present-day state — though much of its character conflict hinges on a more universal fear of the other.”
Nicolette Krebitz’s 2016 drama “Wild” likewise won big at last year’s German Film Awards, impressing with its tale of a detached young office worker whose life is transformed by her relationship with a wolf.
This year’s crop also promises a number of titles to watch, including Thomas Stuber’s “In the Aisles,” a relationship drama set in a supermarket, starring Sandra Hüller of “Toni Erdmann” and Franz Rogowski of Michael Haneke’s “Happy End”; and Phillip Groening’s “Mein Bruder heisst Robert und ist ein Idiot,” about the relationship between a teenage twin brother and sister. Both films will vie for the Golden Bear at the forthcoming Berlin Film Festival.
The growing international reputation of German films comes amid a similar flowering of German television, which has produced such hits as “Babylon Berlin” and “Dark.”