Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Germany's Oscar Submission Kicks Off SF Berlin & Beyond Festival

(Actress Julianne Kohler is the star of "Two Lives". Courtesy photo.)

Over the weekend, I caught a very good documentary called "Liv and Ingmar" that examines the complex relationship between two cinematic giants: Liv Ullman, the actress, and Ingmar Bergman, the director. Having grown up in the 1970s on their film collaborations, I found the documentary was a worthy reminder of the greatness of most of their movies together and it was so welcomed to see Ullmann's beautiful and expressive face, clearly she's not had any plastic surgery, on the big screen again.

The annual German language film festival Berlin and Beyond starts tonight at the Castro Theater, and continues until Sunday before a slate of movies unspool at the Goethe Institute downtown starting on January 20, and my prayers have been answered to see Ullmann again in a drama.

She has a supporting role in the festival's opening night film "Two Lives", which is Germany's choice for the best foreign language Academy Award. The program notes describe the film thus:

Europe 1990, the Berlin wall has just crumbled. Katrine, raised in East Germany, but now living in Norway for the last 20 years, is a “war child”; the result of a love relationship between a Norwegian woman and a German occupation soldier during World War II. She enjoys a happy family life with her mother, her husband, daughter and granddaughter. But when a lawyer asks her and her mother to be a witness in a trial against the Norwegian state on behalf of the war children, she resists. Gradually, a web of concealment and secrets is unveiled until Katrine is finally stripped of everything and her loved ones are forced to take a stand. What carries more weight: the life they have lived together, or the lie it is based on?  

Sounds just like the heavy drama I'm in the mood for tonight, so I'll be at the Castro Theater at 7 pm this evening to watch "Two Lives", see a few cineaste friends and enjoy a German film on the big screen with an appreciative audience.

Click here to read the schedule with links to the descriptions of the films, and go here for ticket info.

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