New German Cinema

A FINE ILLUSION

In an age when, absurdly, facts compete with perceived reality, belief in a better future is being shaken. Inside one's own reality, it's becoming harder and harder to construct a positive narrative for oneself. The filmmakers who are presenting their latest works as premieres in the New German Cinema section this year have responded with delight — delight at this uncertainty, delight at drifting, and delight at coming up with personal theories with medium reach.

What tomorrow will bring? Hard to say. Let's look at today. Tomorrow there might not be any money left for the plans we've made today, or any energy to fulfill them. Let's make the most of it. Will people then call that decadent? It would be entirely appropriate for them to do so, as a logical reaction to the uncertainty in society. The Roaring Twenties and their hedonistic excesses are now a hundred years behind us. What future do today's twentysomethings or fortysomethings have?

There are various ways to respond to this inability to find stable ground beneath your feet. Coolness, drifting, improvisation. Good beer and good conversation in a bar. Good music. The glory days of rock ’n’ roll. Keep calm and carry on. Promiscuity. Or create your own illusions, parallel worlds, or fantasy worlds — in the belief that reality will catch up to those visions. Just don't stand still.

The characters themselves know that some surfaces are cracked. People travel in airplanes but don't have their own apartment; they think up fairy tales for themselves or their children — fairy tales about a society and their one place in it. Anyone who's too deeply rooted in the wrong life and still strives for perfection is condemned to failure, to the abyss. From time to time, even the most brutal conservative values are restored. All in all, this year's films are an invitation to stop striving for perfection in life, or for a stable image of yourself, and to just let yourself once again be surprised — best of all at yourself.

It's nice to experience this at a special screening, consisting of a short film, a feature-length film, and a discussion. All of these raise the question of what cinema is, what it can be, and what it will be. Can it perhaps exist without people at some point — entirely digitally? Certainly not in the way it's received, of course. So let's meet in the dark, watch together, talk about what we've seen, and leave the cinema — hopefully — with our lives having been enhanced. There are 16 + 2 new offerings. Welcome.

Christoph Gröner

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