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Classic films to showcase German cinema of the sixties

Award-winning films and other classics from masters including Alexander Kluge, Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog that changed Germany's film culture will be showcased next month in the film retrospective,“New German Cinema of the 60s”.

They include Kluge's pioneering works“Yesterday Girl”and“The Artists in the Ring: Perplexed”, Jean-Marie Straub and his wife Daniele Huillet's“Not Reconciled”and“The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach”, Volker Schlondorff's“The Young Torless”, Herzog's“Even Dwarves Started Small”, Fassbinder's“Katzelmacher”,“Beware of a Holy Whore”and his most painful work,“Berlin Alexanderplatz”, Wim Wenders’“Wrong Movement”and Hans-Jurgen Syberberg's “Ludwig - Requiem for a Virgin King”.

The films will be shown at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive, the Lecture Halls of the Hong Kong Space Museum and the Hong Kong Science Museum from September 5 to 24.

Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and fully supported by the Goethe-Institut Hong Kong, the“New German Cinema of the 60s”is the second programme of the“Repertory Cinema 2006”series curated by Law Wai-ming, introducing world film classics to local audiences. Works of Italian film master Bernardo Bertolucci were shown last month and films of Japanese film director Terayama Shuji will be featured in November.

A seminar entitled“New German Cinema of the 60s”, to be conducted in Cantonese, is scheduled for September 17 at 4.30 pm at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum.

A new force in politics and economics tried to restore the disheartened human spirit and to establish a new world order after the Second World War. Starting off with Italian neo-realism and French New Wave, the new film culture summoned to a new thinking with emphasis on autonomy and, self-governance.

Post-war Germany was off to a slow start, until the issue of the Oberhausen Manifesto in 1962 by a group of experimental shorts filmmakers proclaiming the advent of the New German Cinema in opposition to the mainstream cinematic tradition.

They sought their own individuality, while drawing on influences from Hollywood and traditional German films. They include Fassbinder's critical populist approach, Wender's road movies of reason and Herzog's new expressionism. Not only did they help change German cinema, but also exerted an impact on Hollywood.

The opening film, Kluge's first feature film,“Yesterday Girl”(1966), was a pioneering piece in New German Cinema. A Jewish East German girl risks everything to start a new life in West Germany, ending up in prison awaiting the birth of her child. The film won the Special Jury Prize in the Venice Film Festival 1966 and four film awards in the German Film Festival Awards 1967.

With the Brechtian narrative and solemn dialogue, another brilliant work of Kluge's“The Artists in the Ring: Perplexed”(1968) showcases the world as a circus - an arena where life is acted out. It won the Golden Lion award in the Venice Film Festival 1968 and the Film Award in Gold - Outstanding Feature Film in the German Film Awards 1969.

Schlondorff's“The Young Torless”(1966) showed his rebellious spirit on old establishment and exposed the cold-blooded authoritative system in boarding school. It won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Cannes Film Festival 1966, and Film Awards in Gold in the German Film Awards 1966.

Owing to his extensive experience in life, Herzog's works are filled with exotic adventures of human life. In his“Even Dwarves Started Small”(1970), three years after his debut film,“Signs of Life”, he used an alternative way to put forward his anti-war message. He exposes the ugliness of human nature and sniggers at men's stupidity.

Dying at the age of 37 after producing more than 30 films, Fassbinder was widely admired for his genius. “Katzelmacher”(1969) is one of his signature works with characterisation, dialogue, and action tinged with a Brechtian isolation, giving the film an unrealistic edge. It won the German Film Critics' Award in 1969 and four awards in the German Film Awards 1970.

Another of his works,“Beware of a Holy Whore”(1971) is a black comedy and a satire of the movie set being“hell”, a self-mockery of the perils of being a director. It is an important work where Fassbinder was in transition from his early Brechtian style to a more conventional narrative.

Not to be missed is the special screening of the 15-hour-long“Berlin Alexanderplatz”(1979/80), a tribute to the pain and uninhibited passion of star-crossed lovers.

Wim Wenders had a fascination with American pop culture. His“Wrong Movement”(1974), the second part of his well-known Road Movies Trilogy, received seven awards in the German Film Awards 1975.

Straub's“Not Reconciled”(1965) was regarded by Jean-Luc Godard as the best German short film since Fritz Lang and FW Murnau, for its style and experimentalism. With his wife, Huillet, they worked on many avant-garde films and won wide acclaim. “The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach”(1968), which is one of the best films on the life of J.S. Bach, is Straub and Huillet's most popular and critically acclaimed film. These films won the Best Film Award in the London Film Festival in 1965 and 1968.

In this most stylish as well as most representative piece of the New German Cinema, Syberberg's“Ludwig - Requiem for a Virgin King”(1972) has blended Brechtian poetic theatre with Wagner's operatic storytelling. He has skilfully merged fantasy and reality, so as to tell of men's quest for legend and myth. The film won the Film Awards in Gold - Outstanding Feature film and Individual Achievement: Screenplay in the German Film Awards 1972.

All the films are in 16mm, in German with English subtitles.

Tickets priced at $50 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-priced concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients. There will be a 10% discount for each purchase of six to 10 tickets and a 20% for each purchase of 11 or more tickets.

For programme information, call 2734 2900 or visit and for reservations, call 2734 9009 or visit .

Ends/Friday, August 18, 2006
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