×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Germany Sends Strong Lineup to Global Fests

Many new works from established filmmakers hit the circuit

A strong showcase of German cinema was on offer at the Toronto Film Festival with a slew of films tackling such timely issues as sexual violence, the plight of refugees, the end of the Soviet Union and Germany’s recent turbulent history.

This year’s selections included works from such prominent names as Werner Herzog, Margarethe von Trotta, Christian Petzold, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and Sven Taddicken.

In Herzog and André Singer’s doc “Meeting Gorbachev,” the prolific filmmakers offer a portrait of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, and his lasting impact on world politics.

In “Searching for Ingmar Bergman,” which also unspools in the TIFF Docs sidebar, von Trotta explores the Swedish director’s cinematic legacy.

Von Donnersmarck, who won the foreign-language film Oscar for 2006’s “The Lives of Others,” revisits East Germany in “Never Look Away,” which follows the life of an artist struggling to reconcile his personal aspirations with his country’s politics. The film screened in Special Presentations.

The topic of refugees is explored in two very different works. Wolfgang Fischer’s Contemporary World Cinema title “Styx” tells the story of a woman whose solo sailing trip is cut short when she comes across a boat in distress. Petzold’s “Transit,” which unspools in Masters, is a modern-day adaptation of Anna Seghers’ 1942-set novel about refugees in Nazi-occupied France trying to secure visas to sail overseas. Petzold has described the work as “a comment of the here and now about the past.”

Ulrich Koehler’s Wavelengths screener “In My Room,” meanwhile, follows a man who wakes up one morning to find that everyone has disappeared. In Taddicken’s “The Most Beautiful Couple,” which celebrated its world premiere in Contemporary World Cinema, a wife and husband struggle with the lingering trauma of sexual assault as she tries to heal and recover while he fights the urge for revenge.

The director describes the premise of the film, as “a worst-case-scenario for a loving couple. It was like a nightmare that was haunting my thoughts from time to time. … I asked myself: Are two victims of a terrible assault able to trust and love each other again?” The story focuses more on the relationship of the two victims than on the crime itself while dealing with the destructive impact of “toxic masculinity,” Taddicken adds.

The film stars Maximilian Brückner and Luise Heyer, who, Taddicken says, were very involved in the development of their characters. “I love actors who are willing to relate to their characters so much that they can even surprise me with the truth about my script.”

Germany’s active involvement in international co-productions is again on display in Toronto with a broad range of works from around the globe.

Unspooling in the Masters section were Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas’ relationship drama “Our Time,” about a couple whose open relationship begins to crumble when the husband can’t control his jealousy, and Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “The Wild Pear Tree,” about a young author forced to deal with family problems as he pursues his literary ambitions in a small village.

French filmmaker Claire Denis presented “High Life,” a sci-fi drama starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche about a group of criminals sent into deep space, in Gala Presentations.

Argentinean director Benjamin Naishtat’s 1970s-set drama “Rojo” and “The Innocent,” from Swiss helmer Simon Jaquemet, both screened in the Platform sidebar.

Contemporary World Cinema offered South African filmmaker Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s drama “Sew the Winter to My Skin”; Sergei Loznitsa’s “Donbass”; Romanian director Radu Jude’s “I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians”; Baldvin Zophoníasson’s Icelandic title “Let Me Fall”; and Çagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti’s Turkish-language “Sibel.”

More Film

  • PLAYA VISTA, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 24:

    Shorts Encourage Women to STEAM Careers

    Straight Up Films created the anthology “Power/On” of five shorts focused on encouraging girls in STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math with the arts thrown in) directed by actresses Rosario Dawson, Julie Bowen, Ana Brenda Contreras, Lisa Edelstein, and Nikki Reed. With support from YouTube, the shorts premiered Wednesday at the Google campus in Playa [...]

  • Stefanie Sherk obit

    Stefanie Sherk, Actress and Wife to Demian Bichir, Dies at 43

    Canadian actress and model Stefanie Sherk died on April 20 of an apparent suicide by drowning. She was 43. The Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed the ruling and cause of death. Sherk appeared in the TV show “CSI: Cyber” and the movie “Valentine’s Day.” She also starred in the show “The Bridge” alongside her husband [...]

  • Ron HowardBreakthrough Prize, Arrivals, NASA Ames

    Ron Howard Talks New Luciano Pavarotti Documentary

    If one is an anomaly, two are a coincidence and three are a trend, then Ron Howard might strictly become a music documentarian after “Pavarotti” hits theaters. The documentary about the world-famous Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti comes on the heels of Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week” and “Made in America,” a look at [...]

  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead

    Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Star in Netflix Assassin Thriller 'Kate' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mary Elizabeth Winstead is set to star in the Netflix actioner “Kate,” sources tell Variety. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is helming from a script by Umair Aleem. The story revolves around a female assassin, who, after being poisoned and given less than 24 hours to live, must go on a manhunt through [...]

  • Shannon Hoon

    Blind Melon Frontman's Home Movies Captivate in Tribeca Doc 'All I Can Say'

    For a period of five years, Blind Melon frontman Shannon Hoon diligently chronicled his own life, videotaping himself with a Hi-8 video camera through every step of his musical journey — starting out in Indiana, through his meteoric rise to alt-rock icon, up to the day of his death in 1995. These captivating moments finally [...]

  • 'The Edge of Democracy' Review: A

    Film Review: 'The Edge of Democracy'

    How the hell did we get here? It’s a question that political liberals are asking themselves in many parts of the world, reeling as they are from a global tilt to the right that has yielded the tumultuous Trump presidency, the ceaseless, squabbling chaos of Brexit and, albeit less prominently in international headlines, Brazil’s submission [...]

  • Brie Larson

    Brie Larson on Diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: 'We Gotta Move Faster'

    While Brie Larson is thrilled over the success of the female-led “Captain Marvel,” the actress wants more diversity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Larson sat down with Variety’s Marc Malkin for the first episode of Variety and iHeartMedia’s new film podcast, “The Big Ticket.” “I’m happy to be on the forefront of the normalization of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content