You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Face to Face With German Films Initiative Aims to Disrupt Perceptions

“It is a gamble,” admits Mariette Rissenbeek, managing director of German Films. But as the driving force behind the Face to Face With German Films initiative, which will showcase its third phase — this year spotlighting directors — at the 68th Berlinale, she is confident it’s a gamble worth taking. Initially launching a lineup of six emerging German actresses at the 2016 London Film Festival, with phase two, showcasing six actors, unfurling at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the program is designed to raise the profile, and to alter the international perception, of German cinema, through the promotion of its brightest, freshest faces.

This year’s program features helmers Emily Atef (her “Three Days in Quiberon” screens in Berlin’s competition), Valeska Grisebach (whose “Western” bowed last year in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard to acclaim), Lars Kraume (his pic “The People vs. Fritz Bauer” won six German Film Awards in 2016 while his new feature “The Silent Revolution” screens as a Berlinale Special Gala), Anca Miruna Lazarescu (her next feature is “Happiness Sucks,” and she’s working on an HBO Europe series), Burhan Qurbani (working on “Berlin Alexanderplatz”) and David Wnendt (“Wetlands,” “Look Who’s Back”).

Previous picks have been fortuitous. Actress Paula Beer, an award-winner for “Frantz” in 2016, now stars in Christian Petzold’s 2018 Berlinale title “Transit.” Another 2016 Face, Saskia Rosendahl (“Lore”) will appear in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s next film, co-starring with 2017 alum Tom Schilling (“A Coffee in Berlin”). Liv Lisa Fries is wooing audiences in Berlin jury president Tom Tykwer’s lavish series “Babylon Berlin” — opposite her 2017 counterpart, Volker Bruch. If part of the program’s mission is to create a new vanguard, this kind of cross-pollination is galvanizing indeed.

Louis Hofmann, young star of Netflix hit “Dark,” thanks Face to Face With German Films for “the chance to increase my visibility on an international level and to meet incredible people” (and also to go to Cannes where he had, he says, “one of the greatest nights of my life”). And the more established Faces also find it rewarding: Alexander Fehling (“Three Peaks”), who will soon be seen in Terrence Malick’s “Radegund,” was grateful for “the opportunity to ship my work to other harbors, while we had the honor of representing German cinema as it is right now.”

Of course, how German cinema is right now is a matter of some debate. Actress Julia Jentsch was a Face the year her stirring abortion drama “24 Weeks” was released, and found that international audiences enjoyed discovering that German filmmakers could be “personal, innovative and good at telling stories that haven’t been told before.” But broader audiences still often associate the nation’s filmmaking with “dull history that belongs in a museum.”

Two years ago, that began to shift with “Toni Erdmann.” There’s no overstating the booster-rocket importance of Maren Ade’s 2016 Cannes sensation not just to German cinema’s international image, but to its sense of itself. Securing the film’s star, Sandra Hüller, for the first edition of Face to Face With German Films “was a big push for the whole campaign,” says Rissenbeek. Indeed, the whole initiative can be viewed as an attempt to capitalize on the mythbusting momentum of “Toni Erdmann,” which proved that German filmmaking could be surprising, funny, edgy and above all, modern.

But shifts don’t happen overnight. The initiative is only 18 months in and the hope that individual careers will get a boost and will in turn gradually remake the popular image of German cinema comes with no guarantee. As the campaign moves into phase three, it is a pivotal moment for a scheme that aims to give German cinema something lasting, visible and expressive: a new face.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard, Emmy-winning drama “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a movie sequel. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s project quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content