Germany At 35MM Film Fest

German Film FestivalIn "The Wave," students learn about fascism by becoming members of an autocratic regime — in the classroom.
If you list the themes examined in this year's German Film Festival, it reads somewhat like a series of words and phrases produced by foreigners playing "Association" with the country's name: World War II, militarism, Black Forest, communism, fascism and Turks are all there.

Thankfully for those who have had their fill of German stereotypes, these are not the only themes covered by the more than a dozen films at the seventh edition of the annual fest.

As always, the event is designed to expose Russian audiences to a diverse range of contemporary German films, many of which are shown in multiple cities around the world on a circuit of year-end German-film fests.

The lineup shifts slightly with each international transfer, and the main event at the Moscow edition, which begins Thursday at the movie theater 35MM and runs all weekend, is no exception: a new arrival on the tour, "Die Welle," or "The Wave," about the dark turn taken by a school instructor's experiment in teaching the history of fascism, will make its Russian debut when it opens the festival Thursday evening. Although set in modern-day Germany, the disturbing phenomenon it details is based on real events that took place in a high school in the wealthy northern Californian enclave of Palo Alto.


German Film Festival
The tough challenges faced by Turkish immigrants are examined in "Chiko."


From there, the pictures on the docket delve into topics not quite so controversial although no less peculiar.

Two days later, on perhaps the richest day of the festival, viewers will be taken on a trip that includes not only Germany but also the Baltic coast, Japan, the past and even the (near) future. Starting out the Saturday schedule will be "Eye to Eye: All About German Film," which provides a serious 101 in the nation's cinematic history.

The ambitious project features 10 confessionals from contemporary German filmmakers about their favorite movies; five cinematic essays that explore themes such as Berlin in film and cinema under the Nazis; and six different image montages, including those of kisses, screams and smoking, all of which are taken from some of the close to 250 movies referenced or pictured in this film of surprisingly reasonable duration, coming in at a length of 105 minutes.

For a comedic interlude, catch the oddball picture "Family Rules" after boning up on film trivia with "Eye to Eye." Without giving away too much, "Rules" sees a grandmother abducted, a group of strangers locked up in an abandoned building and a man longing for a family life. The next and penultimate film of the night, "Cherry Blossoms -- Hanami," is about a German man who finds existential meaning in a trip to Japan.

Closing the evening is a collection of short films from some of the most promising young filmmakers of Germany called "Next Generation 2008," which includes titles such as "My Robot Father," "Frequency Morphogenesis" and "About Love, Hate and the Other One." There's no telling what "the Other One" of the final clip might be, but we can all hold out hope that it's graphic, dirty and duly dominates the first two.

The German Film Festival will run from Dec. 4 to 8 at movie theater 35MM, located at 47/24 Ul. Pokrovka. M. Krasniye Vorota, Kurskaya. 917-5492 (answering machine), 917-1883 (ticket office). www.kino35mm.ru, http://www.goethe.de/ins/ru/mos/