DIFF Daily 2011

DEUTSCHEFEST AT DIFF

Dec 12,2011 - 05:53 PM

BY RANIA HABIB

It’s one of the oldest film industries in the world - and one of the most respected.

Having pioneered much of the technical and artistic practices that would shape film production worldwide during the early part of the 20th century, Germany remains to this day one of the most progressive and respected film industries in the world. And this year, it’s being celebrated at DIFF, in the In Focus programme.

The German focus got off to a dramatic start on Thursday, with the screening of the 1929 silent film ‘Die Büchse Der Pandora’ , featuring a live accompaniment by the UAE Philharmonic Orchestra, led by German conductor Philip Mayer. And today, after three days of German-themed talks, networking sessions and of course, new and classic programming, long-time DIFF programmer and veteran of the Berlin film scene Dorothee Wenner will be presenting delegates with an in-depth overview of the current state of the German film industry. Furthermore, on Wednesday, cinema aficionados will have a
chance to sit in on a conversation with legendary actor, director, scriptwriter and producer Werner Herzog, who will also receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Susanne Sporrer, director of the Goethe Institut for the Gulf region, says cultural relations between Germany and the Arab world are longstanding, and that being part of DIFF this year will only further them. ‘Film is one of the major forms of art and expression which should always be developed,’ she says. ‘Germany has a lot to give, with its long tradition of film, and a very good industry infrastructure. So I think we can share experiences to the benefit of both. It’s a future market here, as the focus of the international community is now on this region.’

Mariette Rissenbeek, managing director of German Films, the country’s national information and advisory centre for the promotion of its films worldwide, says German cinema remains a varied and dynamic industry.

‘Taking that into account, there are very different films which will be screened at DIFF’, says Rissenbeek. ‘There is historic film in ‘Westwind’, a heartwarming story about a little Turkish girl and a grumpy Bavarian taxi driver in ‘Three Quarter Moon’, or even family films ‘Wickie’ and ‘When Santa Fell to Earth’. Documentaries are also an important part of German film production.’

DIFF is currently hosting a number of German film professionals who are exploring regional cinema, and looking to partner with Arab filmmakers. Dorothee Wenner says that curiosity is the starting point for building a strong relationship between Germany and the region. ‘You have to come and see for yourself, and that’s what’s DEUTSCHEFEST AT DIFF happening here at DIFF, and it’s remarkable,’ she says. ‘It’s a question of getting to know each other, because each and every country is different. The way you produce and co-produce varies from every country to country. So it starts with trust and confidence and learning about the other side, and that’s currently in the making, not only through market meetings, but also by seeing films from the region, and seeing where the films come from.’

Sporrer says that the Goethe Institut aims to bridge cultures – rather like DIFF and to this end, have announced special summer schools in Germany for
young Emirati filmmakers, so that they can exchange knowledge with German industry experts. ‘The whole point is to transfer knowledge to the region, and vice versa,’ she says. ‘It’s people who are the bridges between cultures, but you need the structure that people can use to cross these bridges. DIFF is a wonderful starting point, and it’s hopefully the beginning of a beautiful relationship.’

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