Monday, March 6, 2017

KINO!2017 @ Sunshine Landmark March 31 - April 6

KINO! is back and ready to deliver new German films to downtown New York this April. Now in its fourth year as an independent festival, KINO!2017 will showcase twelve feature-length films: one North American premiere, five US premieres, four East Coast premieres and two New York premieres plus the Next Generation Short Tiger 2016 line-up. All of this year's programs will be held at the Sunshine Cinema, Landmark Theatres, from March 31-April 6, 2017.

It has been a truly astounding year for contemporary German cinema as Maren Ade's TONI ERDMANN heads to the Academy Awards® this year. The out-of-the-box comedy has made waves in Hollywood, with its most recent announcement of a US remake starring Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig.

KINO! is thrilled to announce this year's guests including, lead actress of ORIGINAL BLISS, Martina Gedeck, actress Carla Juri of PAULA, director Kai Wessel of FOG IN AUGUST and director Nicolette Krebitz of WILD.

KINO!2017 opens on March 31st with the US premiere of the colorful biopic of German artist Paula Modersohn-Becker, PAULA, with lead actress Carla Juri (BLADE RUNNER 2049) in attendance. PAULA heads to New York City after a fantastic success in Germany, where it topped the art-house charts for four weeks. Opening night will include a post-screening discussion with Juri moderated by festival consultant Marian Masone. Furthermore, Deutsches Haus at NYU will host an in-depth conversation between Carla Juri and the film scholar and author Noah Isenberg entitled "Let's Talk About Paula: A Conversation with Carla Juri" on April 1 at 4:30 pm.

In the centerpiece event DJ Raphaël Marionneau will be at the turntables to provide the soundtrack for the screening of the newly restored Fritz Lang classic DESTINY, presented by Bertelsmann. The international media company was the main sponsor of this silent movie's digital restoration, which was carried out by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation last year, making it available again with its typical 1920s coloration. Legendary filmmakers from Hitchcock to Buñuel have cited DESTINY as a major source of inspiration and influence. The story in three acts tells the tale of a woman who pleads with the Grim Reaper to spare her lover's life.

KINO!2017 continues to showcase the vast diversity within contemporary German cinema with a range of fresh and exciting new films, including the radical Sundance favorite WILD by German actress and director Nicolette Krebitz, the tale of a young woman who escapes from urban societal strictures; documentary POWER TO CHANGE - THE ENERGY REBELLION, in which project developer Edy Kraus vows it is possible for Germany to be using 100% renewable energy by 2030; THE VERDICT by Lars Kraume (THE PEOPLE VS FRITZ BAUER), receiving its North American premiere at KINO!2017, which brings an interactive film experience to the courtroom drama, in with audiences voting on whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.

The cast stars some of Germany's most high profile actors, such as festival guest Martina Gedeck, one of Germany's biggest actresses and star of ORIGINAL BLISS, who will join for an artist talk. Gedeck played the lead role in the German Oscar® winner THE LIVES OF OTHERS and in THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX, nominated for the Oscar® for Best Foreign Language Film and Golden Globes®. She has starred in countless films and has won more than thirty German and international awards. Gedeck was part of the Grand Jury of the International Venice Film Festival and the International Jury of the Berlinale. She is also a voting member of the European Film Academy, the German FilmAcademy and the German Academy of Performing Arts.

This year’s edition was programmed by New York professionals such as sales agent Meghan Wurtz, journalist Karl Rozemeyer and festival consultant Marian Masone who have selected a wide cross-section of high quality, remarkable films.


24 WEEKS (24 WOCHEN), Anne Zohra Berrached, 102 min., East Coast Premiere
Sunday, April 2, 8:30pm
Thursday, April 6, 6pm

It’s Ladies Night at a comedy club and Astrid steps onto the stage in a shimmering short dress. She teases the crowd, “So… notice anything different?” Her baby bump clearly shows she’s pregnant. “I couldn’t care less what it is as long as it’s a girl,” she announces. “But listen up: a kid ain’t keeping me off the stage. You can tell a decent joke and lactate!”

The baby, tests later show, is a boy. But the tests also bring a series of unexpected complications to the surface. Astrid’s breezy, lighthearted view of the world collapses into a dark abyss fraught with moral challenges when her doctor informs her that the fetus has a 98% chance of being born with down syndrome: “Some have very severe Down’s; others have a very mild form. In Germany there’s the option of late-term abortion—theoretically, until the end of the pregnancy.”

Astrid and Markus, her long-term boyfriend and manager, wonder what their son will look like, if he will be able to clean up his room or eat or shower by himself. Will they be able to cope with bringing him up along with their young daughter Nele? They not only decide to have their son, but also to publicly announce he’ll be born with Down Syndrome. As a celebrity, Astrid cannot escape the media spotlight on their decision. The couple then learns the fetus has two holes in his heart and his chances of long-term survival are severely reduced. Having made his decision, Markus steadfastly believes they should keep their son. But doubt begins to undermine Astrid’s certainty. Yet after 24 weeks, can she face the pain and heartache of an abortion?

ALL OF A SUDDEN (AUF EINMAL) Asli Özge, 112 min., US Premiere
Friday, March 31, 5pm
Wednesday, April 5, 4pm

The party begins to wind down in the early morning, and by three a.m. everyone has left Karsten’s apartment—everyone except a mysterious woman called Anna whom he’d apparently never met before. Talking leads to kissing. Then she inexplicably collapses. In a state of panic, Karsten’s immediate instinct is to run to a nearby clinic, only to find its doors locked. By the time he returns Anna is dead. At face value his actions may seem understandable, even commendable. However, as his friends, his colleagues, his girlfriend and the police begin to probe deeper into the events of that night, suspicion grows.

Why did Karsten not call for an ambulance as soon as he realized Anna needed medical help? Had Anna, who was unknown to any of the other party guests, really slipped in uninvited? Did Karsten and Anna simply kiss or were they more intimate? His girlfriend—who was away on a business trip that evening—wants to know why Anna’s pantyhose were found in the apartment. Had they perhaps met before the night of her death?

As evidence appears to mount against Karsten, his privileged world begins to unravel: he’s demoted at work, media coverage of Anna’s death intensifies, and he becomes increasingly isolated. Then it’s revealed that Anna is the wife of a Russian factory worker, and the opportunity arises to exploit the social difference between Karsten and his alleged victim’s immigrant family. The accused killer hardens and fights back with renewed ruthlessness and greed. Not only a dark thriller, ALL OF A SUDDEN also unspools as a scathing critique of the power of bourgeois superiority to triumph against all odds.

DESTINY (DER MÜDE TOD), Fritz Lang, 97 min., US Premiere
Monday, April 3, 8pm

Silent film with live music by DJ Raphaël Marionneau
Presented by Bertelsmann

DESTINY, filmed shortly after the First World War, is regarded as a reflection on the traumas of the war. Images as gloomy as they are fantastical tell the story of a young woman who must pass tests to reclaim her lover from Death. This haunting work established Fritz Lang as one of Germany’s leading directors and earned him international acclaim.

For the restoration, the Murnau Foundation used sources from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Munich Film Museum and the Národní filmový Archive in Prague, among others. Thanks to this digital renewal, the silent movie shines in new splendor after nearly a century. The world premiere of the digital version of DESTINY with new symphonic movie music took place at last year’s Berlinale.

FOG IN AUGUST (NEBEL IM AUGUST), Kai Wessel, 126 min., US Premiere
Saturday, April 1, 6pm
Sunday, April 2, 3pm

Director Kai Wessel in attendance.

Ernst Lossa is 13 years old when he arrives at a Third Reich mental hospital in 1942. Though he has no psychiatric problems, he has been involved in petty crime and is committed because of his connection to the Yenish community, a discriminated people under the Nazi regime.

The institution, which houses adults and children with a wide range of disabilities (including mental retardation, epilepsy and cerebral palsy), is run by chief physician Dr. Werner Veithausen. Tasked by the Third Reich with eradicating those deemed too flawed to live, the doctor employs various murderous procedures, including giving victims raspberry juice laced with poison and devising a new program whereby patients are slowly starved by eating a soup that has been so overcooked it is devoid of any nutritional value. A staunch believer in eugenics, or ‘racial hygiene,’ Veithausen views himself as part of the scientific avant-garde on a mission that will ultimately strengthen the Reich’s workforce.

Meanwhile Ernst adapts to life at the institution with unexpected ease, and soon makes firm friends with his fellow patients, finally finding a sense of belonging and a form of family life. As he develops a deep affection for a girl institutionalized with him, he begins to suspect that Veithausen is responsible for the escalating string of deaths at the institution. He soon realizes that he and the girl he loves may too be added to the list for eradication.

Based on Robert Domes' 2008 novel, FOG IN AUGUST is the first German feature film to focus exclusively on the Nazi euthanasia program in which it is estimated that at least 5,000 children lost their lives.

FUKUSHIMA, MON AMOUR (GRÜSSE AUS FUKUSHIMA), Doris Dörrie, 104 min. East Coast Premiere
Friday, March 31, 3pm
Saturday, April 1, 4pm

When Marie arrives in Tokyo from Europe she changes into clown garb, hoping to meet up with an entertainment troupe from the foreign aid organization Clowns4Help. But instead she is joined on the bullet train to Fukushima by only one other clown. Her exaggerated makeup and absurd costume are brought into even starker relief against the bleak destruction of Fukushima’s lonely ravaged landscape. Radiation levels are high; all along the ghostly coastline are black fields of plastic bags containing contaminated soil.

People fled their homes. The few that remained, mainly elderly folk, now live in temporary shelters. Marie’s attempts to provide a brief distraction from their hardships fall flat. She panics and storms off, blurting out: “I’m a stupid, fucking spoiled, arrogant German bitch!” It’s clear she left her home to flee her own demons and is not emotionally equipped to handle the silent pain and heartache that now engulf her.

Satori, an elderly woman (and supposedly Fukushima’s last geisha) dupes Marie into helping her move back into her ruined house in a desolate, unsafe area. “What would you do if your entire world ceased to exist, if you lost everything?” Satomi asks. But Marie has recently experienced a loss of her own and is as adrift in this strange landscape as Satori. Despite their tragicomic differences, the two women find solace and ultimately redemption in their unlikely bond.

Director/screenwriter Doris Dörrie lensed FUKUSHIMA, MON AMOUR in black and white in the Fukushima region of Japan in the wake of the earthquake and the ensuing 15-meter tsunami that disabled three reactors and later resulted in the calamitous nuclear tragedy of March 2011.

HANNA’S SLEEPING DOGS (HANNAS SCHLAFENDE HUNDE), Andreas Gruber, 120 min. New York Premiere
Tuesday, April 4, 5:30pm
Wednesday, April 5, 8pm

22 years after the end of the Second World War, the inhabitants of the small Austrian provincial town of Wels are still impacted by dangerous reminders of Nazi Germany. Sirens wail and nine-year-old Johanna and her family, along with other townsfolk, must evacuate their homes. Road construction has unearthed unexploded munitions. But before the bomb can be safely removed, it detonates. A dog is killed. “Those war criminals!” shouts one of Johanna’s neighbors. Anger against the Allied bombings and latent allegiance for the German occupiers is still evident among many families in Wels. “Secrecy—at some point everything comes out and blows up in your face,” utters Ruth, Johanna’s blind grandmother.

Johanna overhears her father telling her mother that only he can see her as she truly is. A schoolteacher tells Johanna that her grandmother’s accent denotes that she’s not from Wels. Then, when her mother forbids her and her brother from entering a Catholic Youth singing competition, arguing that such public exposure is unacceptable, Johanna begins to realize that she and her family are outsiders in her hometown, and that her family is harboring a shameful secret.

When Johanna discovers that her tormented mother and grandmother are Jewish, she asks: “But what does it mean?” Throughout the war and beyond, her mother and grandmother had to keep their Jewish identity hidden. Robbed of their name, their religion, and their Zionist ideals, they chose to call her Johanna instead of Hanna and brought her up Catholic.

Based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Elisabeth Escher, HANNA’S SLEEPING DOGS explores a young girl’s embrace of her heritage and her family’s past as she grapples with a newly found self image.

MARIJA, Michael Koch, 100 min., US Premiere
Monday, April 3, 6pm
Tuesday, April 4, 3:30pm

MARIJA opens with a back-of-the-head tracking shot of the film’s titular character as she strides down a busy Dortmund neighborhood street. The subject’s confident, determined walk shows a woman who approaches life with a no-nonsense, steely drive. As the director’s camera continues to stalk Marija, it’s apparent the film will be told from her perspective—and hers is a view of Germany that remains underexposed.

Marija is a Ukrainian immigrant who ekes out a living as a hotel chambermaid. She rigorously secrets away a cash portion of her monthly salary in her small, spartan apartment with the ambition that one day she’ll own a hair salon. When she’s fired from her job for pilfering, there are no tears, no anguished pleas. Marija resolutely, coldly accepts her fate.

To keep her apartment, she acts as an assistant and escort to her Turkish landlord. When their arrangement turns abusive, Marija is employed by Georg, a German businessman, as a translator. Her shrewd intelligence helps cement Georg’s shady deals with various Russian contractors. While his feelings for Marija extend beyond their business arrangement, her precise emotions remain impenetrable. But when Georg is arrested, Marija must chose between helping her benefactor and securing her own dreams.

Monday, April 3, 4pm

ORIGINAL BLISS (GLEISSENDES GLÜCK), Sven Taddicken, 102 min., New York Premiere
Sunday, April 2, 6pm
Thursday, April 6, 8pm

Actress Martina Gedeck in attendance.

Helene used to go to church. Now she believes God has abandoned her. “He was in everything I touched. I could taste it when he had touched me. His love was so great. Can you imagine when such a love leaves you?” she laments. Now Helene whiles away her days cleaning her suburban home, preparing meals for her husband and performing other banal chores, seemingly in a trance. Emotionally frozen and dogged by insomnia, she passively allows life to wash over her.

Her husband berates and abuses her. “It kills me that you sell yourself short! You make yourself so small. That’s not why I married you,” he angrily shouts, slamming her hand in a drawer. A private doctor is called. Two nails must be removed from her bleeding fingers.

Then one day, Helene overhears the musings of Eduard E. Gluck, a self-help guru, on the radio. Her takeaway from his proclamations is that anyone can steer reality with one’s thoughts; anyone can reprogram oneself like a computer. With a renewed sense of purpose, Helene seeks him out at a hotel conference. He tells her he cannot give her the spiritual experience she needs. Yet that evening, they meet for dinner. “Where and when were you last happy with no end in sight,” he asks. “When did you experience original bliss?”

The increasing sexual tension between them results not in a romantic interlude, but instead with Eduard blurting out his pornographic desires to her over the phone. Over time, Helene uncovers Gluck's voyeurism and psychosexual obsessions as well as his profound self-loathing. Yet, ultimately, in each other they recognize the love and affection they have both long been seeking.

PAULA, Christian Schwochow, 123 min., US Premiere
Friday, March 31, 7:30pm, opening film
Saturday, April 1, 1:30pm, followed by Deutsched Haus at NYU discussion with lead actress Carla Juri at 4:30pm

Lead actress Carla Juri in attendance.

“It’s much too rough, Miss Becker. What have I been teaching you?” says Paula’s instructor to his young pupil, critiquing her painting of an apple. “Precision and accuracy,” she replies sullenly. “And to portray nature exactly as it is,” he adds. “And my emotions,” retorts Paula Becker. Her affirmation that she will paint as her emotions dictate pre-empts how the avant-garde artist would live her life: driven by raw emotion, rebellious passion and a determination to overthrow societal convention.

From as early as she could recall, Paula was told women would never produce anything creative except children. History has proven her contemporary critics wrong, but the sacrifices she had to endure for the sake of her art were arduous and only minimally rewarding during her lifetime.

She meets Otto Modersohn, a fellow painter with whom she shares a kindred spirit. They marry in 1901, and she becomes stepmother to his two-year-old daughter. Feeling restless and stifled in Germany, Paula leaves her husband and pursues her life-long desire to paint in Paris. There she not only flirts with a more hedonistic lifestyle and experiences a belated sexual awakening but also develops the artistic vision that will eventually make her one of the leading lights of Expressionism.

She returns to Otto in 1907; her daughter is born the same year. Nineteen days later Paula suddenly dies at the age of 31. Her modest ambition to leave the world with “three good paintings and a child” is more than fulfilled. By the time of her death, Paula Modersohn-Becker left behind 750 paintings and became the subject of the first museum in the world to be dedicated to the work of a female painter.

Wednesday, April 5, 6pm
Thursday April 6, 3:30pm

Could Germany be using 100% renewable energy by 2030? It’s a belief held by Edy Kraus, a project developer whose idea is to generate energy from pellets made out of renewable resources and waste materials. He’s confident this goal is attainable even though every year the German economy currently spends around 100 billion euros on fossil fuels. Kraus is one of several green revolutionaries featured in POWER TO CHANGE – THE ENERGY REBELLION who are striving to develop renewable innovations.

They discuss the common goal of eventually reducing carbon emissions to virtually zero with Amir Roughani, a technology entrepreneur who, as a young graduate believed in the future of renewable energy, but who later lost his faith in its possibilities. How, he began to question, could such small-scale solutions as windmills and solar panels meet the growing energy needs of an industrial nation like Germany?

Even though the development of renewable energies has already generated savings of around 12 billion euros in Germany, other forces, such as fossil fuel lobbyists, are working hard to discredit the green energy sector and to undermine the transition to renewables.

From the student who believes we can organize transport into a more environmentally friendly business by using kite-powered ships to the inventor of celitement, a cement substitute that releases up to 50% less CO2 gas, Roughani approaches each green entrepreneur he meets in this documentary with a healthy dose of skepticism. His doubt is reversed, and even though our planet is plagued by global conflicts over limited resources and the uneven distribution of wealth, POWER TO CHANGE generates enough excitement and hope to give even the greatest pessimist faith in a brighter, greener future.

THE VERDICT (TERROR – IHR URTEIL), Lars Kraume, 120 min., North American Premiere
Tuesday, April 4, 8pm

On May 26, 2016 at 8:29 p.m., Major Lars Koch of the German Air Force shot down a Lufthansa passenger plane using an air-to-air guided missile. All 164 passengers on board were killed. The jet had been hijacked and was en route to crash into a packed Berlin soccer stadium. This is the fictional premise of the interactive courtroom drama THE VERDICT, an adaptation of a play by best-selling author Ferdinand von Schirach, which broadcast last year on the German network ARD. Viewers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria were tasked with deciding the fate of Major Koch by phoning in or posting online the verdict they thought should apply.

Is the defendant guilty of first-degree homicide? If so, then the viewer must contend that no human being is an object and that lives cannot be measured in numbers. The viewer must hold that it is a breach of the German constitution to weigh one life against another, and that the plane’s passengers were defenseless victims whose dignity and inalienable rights were disregarded—not only by the terrorists, but also by Koch.

Or should the defendant be acquitted? To acquit is to admit that our legal order cannot solve every moral dilemma without contradiction. If so, then the viewer must accept that when Lars Koch pulled the trigger, he chose “the lesser evil” and is, in the eyes of the law, untarnished. An acquittal would also amount to a rejection of the notion that the passengers might have gained access to the cockpit or that the Lufthansa pilot could have averted the crash.

What say you? Is Major Koch guilty or should he walk free?

WILD, Nicolette Krebitz, 97 min., East Coast Premiere
Saturday, April 1, 8:30pm
Sunday, April 2, 1pm

Director Nicolette Krebitz in attendance.

Ania’s chance encounter with a wolf one morning in a secluded park near her apartment leaves her unnerved but thrilled. As soon as she gets to work at her mundane office job, she begins researching wolves. Perhaps as an offering or to lure the animal back, she leaves a prime cut of meat near the place of the lupine sighting. At night she listens intently to the wolf’s howling.

Her fascination with the wolf is never clearly articulated, which is hardly surprising: Ania is a loner who keeps largely to herself. “That’s what I like about you, Ania. You never ask silly questions,” her older boss observes. She later calmly rebuffs his stilted advances toward her. She’s a young woman of few words who seems socially awkward, almost uncomfortable among almost all of the humans who surround her. Ania seems to have little interest in men; she has no boyfriend and lives alone in a nondescript high-rise apartment that she used to share with her recently hospitalized grandfather. To relax, she frequents a pistol shooting range—an activity she enjoys alone.

Since locking eyes with the wolf, Ania cannot escape the seductive lure of the animal. Her interest in the creature soon turns to obsession. In an elaborate plan, she coaxes and traps the beast, taking him to her apartment. And so begins her definitive retreat from the world at large. In this modern fable, like Little Red Riding Hood, Ania is seduced both metaphorically and physically by an animalistic force, led astray from the conventions and norms of a society to which she no longer relates.

KINO!2017 is produced by German Films in collaboration with the German Information Center, Bertelsmann, Deutsches Haus at NYU, and media sponsor The Village Voice. The KINO!2017 Audience Award is again powered by Fandor, the leading streaming service.

German Films Service + Marketing GmbH is the national information and advisory center for the promotion of German films worldwide. It was established in 1954 under the name Export-Union of German Cinema as the umbrella association for the Association of German Feature Film Producers, the Association of New German Feature Film Producers and the Association of German Film Exporters.


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