07 February 2006


This week the 56th Berlin film festival opens. The films being shown include 55 German productions. In the last ten years German films have garnered growing recognition internationally: Fatih Akin's film Gegen die Wand received many accolades for example, after it won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2004; shortly after that Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei was in the running at Cannes; finally, Marc Rothemund's film Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage was nominated for an Oscar. There are a number of reasons for the rise of German film since the Wende. Young filmmakers like Akin, Andreas Dresen oder Oskar Roehler are the first generation of filmmakers to have grown up with both Hollywood and television as influences; they often move between different cultures, and they have been able to develop their own style, without being overshadowed by forefathers such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff and Werner Herzog. Perhaps the Filmförderungsgesetz of 2003, which rewards box office success but also presence at film festivals, has been a minor factor. 76 German contributions were entered for the Berlinale competition. The four selected to compete are Elementarteilchen by Oskar Roehler, Requiem by Hans-Christian Schmid, Der freie Wille by Matthias Glasner and Sehnsucht by Valeska Grisebach.