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CASABLANCA (Michael Curtiz, USA 1942, 1. & 25.5.) Casablanca 1941: the north African port is a stopover for many of those emigrating to America to flee the Nazis. Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband (Paul Henreid) are also hoping to obtain transit visas to continue their journey when they bump into Ilsa’s former lover (Humphrey Bogart). An emigration drama, played by an ensemble of emigrants: Curtiz cast many of the roles with famous German-(speaking) actors, such as Peter Lorre, Conradt Veidt, Curt Bois and Szöke Szakall, who had themselves had to emigrate from Germany and Europe just a few years before. 

DIE QUEREINSTEIGERINNEN(Rainer Knepperges, Christian Mrasek, Germany 2006, 2. & 6.5.) Harald Winter is a big shot at a telephone company and thus somehow carries responsibility. That’s why Barbara and Katja kidnap him and take him to a remote holiday house in northern Germany. But the young women’s inexperienced manner hardly inspires a great deal of fear. When asked why they’ve kidnapped him, they curtly demand that the yellow telephone boxes of yore should be put up again. Yet the world outside doesn't seem particularly bothered by Winters's kidnapping and he in turn seems less and less interested in the outside world. "What sounds like a reworking of "Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei" is actually a pleasingly absurd comedy that makes the best of its modest means. That Klaus Lemke plays a small role in it is no coincidence, as he also always shot his films with little regard for losses" (FAZ). This low budget film was created within the context of the "Cologne Group", a loosely connected group of filmmakers who carry out their work from an independent, cinephile outsider position. 

IL BACIO DI TOSCA (Daniel Schmid, Italy/Switzerland 1984, 3. & 7.5.) The Casa Verdi, a old-peoples' home founded by Verdi in Milan, houses old opera singers and musicians, an ensemble teaming with stars tirelessly dedicated to (self-)dramatization. Their own pasts become the role of a lifetime, such as when two aged singers re-enact the final kiss of the death scene from "Tosca"in a corridor and invoke the fame of earlier times once again, despite their thinning hair and walking sticks. With great tenderness, Daniel Schmid shows them as dazzling artistic figures, which is how they see themselves, taking in their self-portrayals, their acting, and their fictions.  

HÔTEL DU NORD (Marcel Carné, France 1938, 5. & 14.5.) A hotel in northeastern Paris right next to Canal Saint-Martin. While a first communion is being celebrated with friends and family, a young couple take a room with the intention of killing themselves together. Their plan fails and after a spell in hospital, the young woman becomes a hotel chambermaid, where her path crosses that of the hotel guests. The character depictions of the convincing ensemble (Arletty, Louis Jouvet) and the authenticity of the milieu make HÔTEL DU NORD one of the most important films of poetic realism in 1930s French cinema.

REJS (The Cruise, Marek Piwowski, Poland 1970, 8. & 30.5.) A cruise down the Vistula river. A man sneaks on board without a ticket and has himself voted chairman of the entertainment committee, which sets in motion a circular dance of absurd meetings, decrees, votes, and prescribed leisure activities. The ensemble of passengers consists of all the archetypes of Polish socialist society, who savor acting out the surreal situations. REJS is a sparkling satire on the petty bourgeoisie and not just in Poland. Made in the middle of the communist era, the film only barely cleared the censors' hurdles. Today, it enjoys cult status in Poland and is so famous that "in the student clubs a Japanese dubbed version is usually shown, as everyone knows the dialogues anyway!" (Helmut Höge)

SHORT CUTS (Robert Altman, USA 1993, 9. & 27.5.) Altman skillfully weaves together fragments from the lives of 22 protagonists – figures from all of Los Angeles' various social strata – to form a cinematic mosaic whose starry cast extends all the way to the smallest supporting roles, with the ensemble receiving several acting awards. The result is an impressive puzzle of different narrative vignettes: an apocalyptic portrait on a grand scale that straddles tragedy and satire, a story of everyday life in south California from the end of the 20th century.

DAYS OF BEING WILD (A fei jing juen, Wong Kar-Wai, Hong Kong 1991, 10. & 22.5.) Wong Kar-Wai’s second film as a director already contains all the motifs important to his work: a usually fruitless search for love, an all-pervading senses of loneliness and the role of time. At the heart of this film of loosely woven together episodes is the young, spoilt Yuddy, who passes his time with sexual adventures. He finds out that he was adopted and sets out in search of his biological mother. Wong Kar-Wai creates a portrait of a lost generation in Hong Kong in 1960 that is thick in atmosphere. Six of the most popular stars of the period formed the cast: Leslie Cheung, Andy Lau, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Jacky Cheung, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.

NOWY WAWILON (The New Babylon, Grigori Kozintsev / Leonid Trauberg, USSR 1929, 12. & 15.5., with a live piano accompaniment by Eunice Martins) is the most famous film made by FEKS, the Factory of the Eccentric Actor, which was founded by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg in Petrograd in 1921. Combining actor training with collective theater and film work, these enfants terribles of the Soviet avant-garde developed eccentricity as a new means of expression. Taking place during the assault on the Paris Commune in 1871, NOWY WAWILON tells of the love story between Louise, a saleswoman at the New Babylon department store and convinced Communard, and Jean, a soldier who has to fight against the Commune. The directors introduced a whole new aesthetic to Soviet filmmaking by means of highly exaggerated, caricatured characters and décors, a furious tempo and radical editing techniques.

LIFE ACCORDING TO AGFA(Assi Dayan, Israel 1992, 13. & 23.5.) One long night in a Tel Aviv bar that is at once a place of refuge and a battlefield. Both the staff and the patrons represent a microcosm of Israeli society. Wound-up soldiers rub shoulders with liberal bohemians, Arab intifada supporters, progressive Israelis, and radical Zionists. The atmosphere is a mixture of aggression and tenderness, zest for life and desperation, open hatred and loving humor. Barmaid and photographer Leora takes photos of her guests and captures the evening's events. The flow of the film is interrupted by these still images – snapshots of a disjointed society.

LE CHARME DISCRET DE LA BOURGEOISIE (Luis Buñuel, France/Spanin 1972, 16. & 26.5.) A group of people from the Paris bourgeoisie – two married couples, a young woman and the ambassador of Miranda, a fictitious corrupt Latin American state – repeatedly try to meet for dinner. Alarming incidents and misunderstandings thwart their attempts again and again. The sprawling subplots include a bishop entering into service as a gardener, an ambassador shooting out of the window at annoying passers-by, and a group of invited guests taking their seats on stage in front of an audience. Realistic scenes shift into visions and fantasy without warning; a strange detail is quite capable of turning the everyday into a dream. The film is made with a sense of irony that still does not temper the ferocity of Buñuel’s attack on the false awareness of the bourgeoisie in any way.

GERMANIA ANNO ZERO (Roberto Rossellini, Italy/Germany 1948, 19. & 24.5.) The final part of Rossellini's post-war trilogy is set in the bombed-out ruins of Berlin. Twelve-year-old Edmund must support his family all by himself and make sure to find food everyday afresh, largely experiencing rejection from his surroundings as he does so. None of the many people he has to do with offer him orientation or support. Rossellini saw no fresh start unfolding in Germany: he shows a destroyed and corrupted Berlin and the sensibility of the Germans following the end of the war. Even if the war is now over, the barbaric Nazi mindset persists, not least in Edmund and his former teacher, who convinces him to poison his sick father.  

DIE BITTEREN TRÄNEN DER PETRA VON KANT (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany 1972, 20. & 29.5.) Successful fashion designer Petra von Kant (Margit Carstensen) lives in a luxury apartment together with her servant Marlene (Irm Hermann). She falls passionately in love with the younger Karin (Hanna Schygulla), who is only using her.  When Karin's husband returns from Australia after a long absence, she leaves Petra, who now offers Marlene freedom and enjoyment, despite having treated her like a piece of furniture up until now. Marlene, who has never even said a word, packs her bags and leaves Petra. Fassbinder’s huge directorial output was only possible due to his working with a fixed team of players, to whom he was connected in almost family-like structures. "I imagine being able to make cheap films in quick succession with a group that are well attuned to one another, produced independently as far as possible, in order to give me far-reaching opportunities to realize my ideas." (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

AMERICAN HUSTLE(David O. Russell, USA 2013, 21. & 31.5.) An absurd charade of betrayal and forgery set in late 70s New York: Irving Rosenfeld owns several Laundromats, but makes real money via his dubious art sales. An FBI agent gets wise to his tricks, forces him to collaborate, and sets him on a corrupt politician. Yet Irving and his equally criminally-minded girlfriend Sydney are hell-bent on getting one up on the FBI agent. A witty gangster comedy that sparkles thanks to its lavish, bad-taste channeling production design, convincing characters and the star-studded acting ensemble (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner).

DÉLITS FLAGRANTS (Raymond Depardon, France 1994, 28. & 31.5.) The justice apparatus and the people subjected to it form the focus of Depardon's documentary. With a fixed camera, he films 14 interrogations of people caught in flagrante (pickpockets, car thieves, thimbleriggers, graffiti sprayers, drug dealers, violent husbands) and shows the procedure they are submitted to when they leave police custody and enter the Paris Palace of Justice to be interrogated at the state attorney's offices. The fast track procedure there takes decisions about people's lives. The judiciary is emerges as a processing apparatus, a formalized system of rules that annexes people, transforms them into burocratic processes and sends them on their way. The confrontation between the language used by the lawyers and the tricks and evasiveness of the delinquents is also the source of a huge amount of unexpected humor. (al/mg)

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