The Museum of Modern Art's 34th annual series of new films from Germany coincides with two important German film anniversaries: the 100th birthday of the world-famous Studio Babelsberg and the 50th anniversary of the Oberhausen Manifesto. The former will be celebrated at MoMA with screenings the day before Kino! 2012: New Films from Germany opens at MoMA, and the latter will be marked later in the calendar year with four programs of short films by the original signatories of the Oberhausen Manifesto, which called, rather successfully, as time has shown, for an independent New German Cinema, "Free from all usual conventions by the industry. Free from control of commercial partners. Free from the dictation of stakeholders."
Studio Babelsberg, home such Weimar film classics as F.W. Murnau's The Last Laugh, Fritz Lang's Metropolis, and Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel (starring Marlene Dietrich), is also home of such recent, noteworthy international coproductions as Roman Polanski's The Pianist and The Ghost Writer, Tom Tykwer’s The International, and Roland Emmerich's Anonymous. MoMAs salute to Babelsberg will include a rare screening of one of its earliest worldwide successes, Stellan Rye's The Student of Prague (1913).
But the main focus of Kino! is new cinema, with an eye to the future.
Once again, Kino! includes Next Generation Short Tiger 2011, the annual, and much anticipated, selection of student films from film academies across Germany. In addition, this year's program includes six debut features, including the opening-night film, Zieska Riemann's Lollipop Monster, which blends genres to surprising and exhilarating effect. Three of these first features deal with issues of neighborliness: Carsten Unger's Bastard, about children who go very, very wrong; Leo Khasin's social drama Kaddish for a Friend, about a young Muslim who was taught that Jews are evil, and his relationship with the ex-Soviet Jewish war veteran who lives upstairs; and Stephan Rick's The Good Neighbor, a thriller about a neighbor who is way too good to be, well, good.
Jan Zanbeil's contemplative The River Used to Be a Man finds a young German lost on an African river, and respected theater director and documentary filmmaker Andres Veiel's debut feature, If Not Us, Who traces Gudrun Ensslin's trajectory from dutiful pastor's daughter to co-founder of Germany's violently radical Red Army Faction in the 1970s. Miguel Alexandre's epic The Man with the Bassoon (from a book by and starring Udo Jürgens) traverses the 20th century and momentous events in both Germany and Russia, and Andreas Dresen, always a welcome visitor to Kino!, returns with Stopped on Track, a very moving account of a youngish family faced with a crisis of mortality, cast with both non-actors and professionals.
Organized by Laurence Kardish, Senior Curator, Department of Film, in cooperation with German Films Service + Marketing (Munich) and its New York representative, Oliver Mahrdt, and with the Goethe-Institut, New York.