This year’s German film festival showcases many films that illustrate the modern, multicultural direction of German cinema. Mo Asumang’s The Aryans looks at the modern face of race hate in Germany, and documentary Anderson exposes the truth behind a Stasi agent posing as an East German musician. Both films approach Germany’s history and society through the individual
As well as a glimpse into current social issues in Germany, the festival shows directors who are taking risks with format. With only 14 shots and three camera movements, Dietrich Bruggemann’s Stations of the Cross tells the story of a deeply devoted 14-year-old girl and her faith. It has been called, “the antithesis of commercial cinema”.
Considered a lesser-known film by a master filmmaker, F.W Murneau’s Faust is about the attempted corruption of a righteous man who is a pawn in a wager between an archangel and the demon Mephisto. The 1926 black-and-white film is a dreamlike journey into another place and time. For the festival, German multimedia artist Thomas Köner will accompany Murneau’s film with abstract electronic sounds, creating a soundtrack that reflects the vastness of the film. “I try to create a space first of all – a very vast sound space that is big enough to hold all these images,” he says. “The movie is quite vast in terms of geography. The images have their own rhythm, texture and intensity, so I try to orchestrate this in sound.”
The premise of Köner’s work is in his belief that while audio dates, images last. “Sound is like yoghurt, you cannot keep it fresh for long,” he says. “If I hear a song from the ‘40s or ‘50s it immediately sounds old. The production, the melodies, everything is kind of dated. The images however have a certain sublime quality to them that doesn’t date.”
“Visual storytelling has changed a lot in the last 100 years,” says Köner. “The whole production, staging, acting, editing, pace, intensity and electricity of these images are somehow different from what they do today.” The exaggeration of the expression of silent film actors helps build this “intensity”, while light and contrast frame the work with a certain stillness and beauty.
Köner’s work is an interpretation of a piece of art 90 years after its original completion. “We have received this from an earlier generation and we can enhance it; it’s kind of nice to be an element in a chain.”
Thomas Köner will perform alongside Faust at the Chauvel Cinema on May 23.
The German Film Festival will run from May 13 to May 28 at Chauvel Cinema and Palace Norton Street.
Further screening details can be found at goethe.de