You know a film festival will be intense when one of its after-screening Q&As is with a marriage and family therapist. And when it's a festival of German films.
Or "German Gems," to be precise. That's a good name for this second annual exhibition from former Berlin & Beyond festival founder Ingrid Eggers. These are films that sparkle, and also are formidably stony.
A glum, middle-aged architect and his messed-up family. Belligerent villagers in a cagey mountain town. A river-surfing pioneer called "Dieter the Eater." A put-upon perpetual intern. An impressionable David Lynch fan. A personal pilot for Middle Eastern royalty obsessed with building his own plane. A lethally vengeful teenager. And who are we forgetting? Oh yes, Gustav Mahler and Sigmund Freud. Together.
She Deserved It
But don't worry. The Mahler on the Couch Q&A will be with filmmaker Peter Esmonde and SF Symphony assistant conductor Donato Cabrera. The one with the therapist is She Deserved It, about the vengeful teenager, and if you see the movie -- especially if you're a parent -- you'll understand why.
David Wants to Fly
Let's just say this festival has no shortage of Teutonic solemnity. Early on in David Wants to Fly, when filmmaker/protagonist David Sieveking says, "I wanted to make dark films like my idol, David Lynch, but I was lacking the darkness," we root for him and suspect it's really just a matter of time. After all, we've already seen David's girlfriend tell him she didn't want to be treated like a hamster. And soon enough Lynch himself will remind him that so many of us live "in this suffocating rubber clown suit of negativity. And it is real stinky rubber."
All of which to say that just because it's heavy doesn't mean it can't also be light.
German Gems runs January 14 through 16, 2011 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco and January 22, 2011 at the Arena Theatre in Point Arena. For tickets and information visit germangems.com.