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26 June 2017

The 38th edition of the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is set to captivate audiences with a German Focus, which features ten gripping films by some of Germany’s finest directors, a masterclass by German film industry professionals, as well as networking sessions with the cream of the international film industry crop.

Curated by Alex Moussa Sawadogo, the variety of the films on the lineup is set to keep audiences enthralled. Films such as The People vs Fritz Bauer(which relates to German history after the WWII and the role of the attorney of law Fritz Bauer in confronting the state with its political shortcomings), Paula (which recounts the journey of a well-known early 20th century painter, who discovered her artistic freedom in a more traditional Germany), Goodbye Berlin (a depiction of how the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany merged into one state, taking two young children as the protagonists of a road movie through former East Germany) and Greetings From Fukushima (which breaks the common stereotypes that surround Germans) will leave audiences with a better understanding of German history, culture and people.

While Goodbye Berlin ties in with this year’s overall festival theme, “Transit Tales”, All of a Sudden, Greetings From Fukushima, Paula and Karl Marx City speak to one of this year’s focus areas – women-led films.

DIFF audiences will have the chance to meet key people behind the productions. Anand Batbileg and Tristan Göbel, two of the most promising talents in Germany’s film scene and the main actors of Goodbye Berlin will be in Durban for a Q&A following the German Gala screening of Goodbye Berlin at The Playhouse (Drama Theatre) on 16 July (time tbc). The award winning and family friendly film was made by prominent film maker Fatih Akin who recently presented his last film in Cannes. Tickets for the Gala Screening are available at Computicket.

Another confirmed DIFF guest is Doris Dörrie, director of Greetings From Fukushima. With her unmistakable way of storytelling, she has been one of the towering figures in German cinema since she stirred up the countries’ film scene in 1985 with the gender comedy Men. Christian Schwochow has been awarded for both his cinema and theatre work and will visit DIFF in his capacity as Director of Paula. Petra Epperlein will visit Durban as well to present the extraordinary documentary Karl Marx City, which is a highly personal cinematic journey into her childhood to find the truth about her late father’s suicide and his rumored past in the GDR’s secret service. Furthermore, Directors Karin Steinberger (The Promise) and Stephan Rick (The Dark Side Of The Moon) will be attending DIFF.

The German Focus at DIFF 2017 is presented by German Films, the Goethe-Institut and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in South Africa in cooperation with DIFF.

Alex Moussa Sawadogo, director of the Afrikamera Festival and curator of the German Film Focus at DIFF elaborates: “Long considered as a highly politicized cinema that placed social and political criticism at the heart of its creation, today, German cinema is dominated by a new generation of directors. From diverse origins, free and gifted, these German directors are at the foreground of the vivacity of the production of German cinema, which is recognized all over the world. They bring the concerns of their generation in an intimate sphere on screen and discuss the tribulations of a new Germany that has opened itself to the world - particularly by receiving many people in distress.The German Film Focus at DIFF 2017 presents itself as a unique platform for the discovery of a program of new, diversified, exciting and engaging German films of all kinds – a cinema that places German people from all origins at the heart of its creation.”

Mariëtte Rissenbeek, German Films Service said: “The majority of the films we are presenting have been very successful at a large number of international film festivals. The kinds of stories they tell and the way in which they are told are relevant for a larger international audience, and the director’s handwriting has both a specific and an international element. The strength of German cinema at present is its diversity. Since the year 2000 a number of German films, about German history and personal stories, have been made which achieved international success.”

Lien Heidenreich-Seleme, Head of Cultural Programmes at the Goethe-Institut, added: “The goals of the Goethe-Institut are to support film within the creative industries and to undo with stereotypes through visual storytelling. We do this with training and networking initiatives, through interdisciplinary and pan-African collaborations, and by increasing access to the variety of German filmmaking. In this light, and after our longstanding relationship with DIFF, we are excited about this year’s German focus.”   

DIFF, the Goethe-Institut South Africa and Berlinale Talents have a decade-long partnership. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Talents Durban, a programme that began in 2008 as a result of the partnership between DIFF and Berlin International Film Festival’s Berlinale Talents, with the support of the Goethe-Institut and the German Embassy.   

Talents Durban is an annual five-day training and mentorship programme that runs at DIFF, aimed at empowering emerging 27 African screenwriters and directors working on projects for film, television, web series and content for mobile platforms. The 10th edition will take place from 14-18th of July under the theme “Perspectives: Seeing things differently”, which is derived from the observation that film alone may not change the world but can show the world when it changes. Talents Durban looks to not only highlight the stories of Africa, but create a culture of Africans telling their own stories, and most importantly from their experience and perspective of cutting edge and modern cinematic technology. Talents Durban is happy to welcome the German directors Doris Dörrie, Petra Epperlein and the two main characters of Fatih Akin’s film Goodbye Berlin, Anand Batbileg and Tristan Göbel. As part of Talents Durban and in association with the Goethe-Institut and FIPRESCI (International Association of Film Critics), the Talent Press programme will provide again mentorship and hands-on training in the craft of film criticism to three emerging African journalists.

Furthermore, the Goethe-Institut will present “New Dimensions – Virtual Reality Africa”, a brand new package of four VR productions from Kenya, Ghana and Senegal. The works were co-produced with Cape Town based Electric South. To be shown at the Durban FilmMart, they allow a glimpse into the fascinating new opportunities that technology provides for visual storytelling.

DIFF is one of Africa’s leading and longest running festivals, and runs from the 13th-23rd of July in Durban, South Africa.

To find out more about the German Focus at DIFF, visit www.durbanfilmfest.co.za, or follow the Festival and the German Film Focus partners on social media:


@DIFFest (#DIFF2017)

@German_Films #germanfilms





Durban International Film Festival

German Films

Goethe-Institut Johannesburg

Talents Durban

German Embassy Pretoria



@germanfilms #germanfilms



The German focus booklet is available on http://issuu.com/goethejoburg/docs/germanfocus_diff_2017_a6booklet_web

High res film stills are available on https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fo0eqk0hhl39gwk/AACvnTjftxmg8mERo6pHJ3jVa?dl=0.

About the curator:


Alex Moussa Sawadogo studied art history in Ouagadougou and cultural management in Hamburg, specialising in dance and film. He worked for numerous cultural institutions and projects in Burkina Faso, among others the pan African film festival FESPACO. After moving to Berlin, he acted as press- and cultural attaché at the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Berlin in 2005. Recently, he conceived and curated the „Border Border Express“ dance festival (Hebbel am Ufer). Furthermore, he co-curated the African films at the International Short Film Festival Winterthur and was artistic advisor for the “Open Doors 2012” program at Festival del Film Locarno. Mr. Sawadogo has since 2007 been the artistic director of the AFRIKAMERA film festival.

About the films:


Auf Einmal / All Of A Sudden



Trailer: https://youtu.be/KQiOueT1_R4

After the party in Karsten’s apartment, everybody leaves except Anna. Admiringly, Karsten approaches this mysterious woman. How could he have known, that in a moment of weakness, his well-established life would spiral out of control and turn into a disaster? In this small provincial German town, disappointment soon fuels anger, justice hides behind hypocrisy, and evil gradually unfolds.

Das Versprechen / The Promise



Trailer: https://vimeo.com/marcusvetter/review/194534252/e884114e5e

The gruesome murders of Nancy and Derek Haysom in 1985 were a media sensation. The murder conviction of their daughter Elizabeth and her German boyfriend Jens Soering sent shock waves through Bedford County. After being arrested in 1986, they have now spent over 30 years behind bars. This beautifully crafted film reveals a mismanaged, completely corrupted, judicial process.

Investigations over the past 3 years have turned up stunning evidence that was previously suppressed or deemed inadmissible. New forensic techniques have disproven evidence that was key to Soering’s original conviction. Unidentified fingerprints, evidence that points to sexual abuse, the presiding judge’s friendship with the victims, a missing FBI profile — all point to a very different story, one that is revealed in the film.

Der Geilste Tag / The Most Beautiful Day



Trailer: https://youtu.be/c9zPxuVOqWY

The quirky, overambitious pianist Andi (33) and the more laid back and relaxed Benno (36) have just one thing in common: They will both die soon. After some trouble at the hospice, the two of them decide to have the most awesome day before it’s too late. First thing they need is money, which they cleverly scam, since going to prison is considering the limited amount of time out of the question. Then they set off for Africa! It will not only be a nightmare for Andi the hypochondriac, but also a huge deal for Benno, who will have to face his past for the first time in his life. The journey leads them through hazards, a number of comedic, tragic, dramatic and dangerous moments and finally to their original aspiration: The most awesome day of realizing that you need to take life into your own hands to not miss out on it…

Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer / The People vs Fritz Bauer



Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDTRQWyvzKg

Germany, 1957. Attorney General Fritz Bauer receives crucial evidence on the whereabouts of SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann. The lieutenant colonel, responsible for the mass deportation of the Jews, is allegedly hiding in Buenos Aires.

Bauer, himself Jewish, has been trying to take crimes from the Third Reich to court ever since his return from Danish exile. However, with no success so far due to the fierce German determination to repress its sinister past. Because of his distrust in the German justice system, Fritz Bauer contacts the Israeli secret service Mossad, and, by doing so, commits treason. Bauer is not seeking revenge for the Holocaust – he is concerned with the German future.

Die Dunkle Seite des Mondes / The Dark Side of the Moon



Trailer: https://youtu.be/3po5Y_O8Nxk

Corporate lawyer, Urs Blank, is the undisputed star of his profession. He has money and the perfect wife. But the suicide of a business colleague throws him off track and leads to an attraction with Lucille and her alternative lifestyle. Seduced into experimenting with hallucinogenic mushrooms, his dark side emerges, as with merciless power, long suppressed aggressions burst out and go wild. The once civilised lawyer turns into an instinct-driven individual and erratic murderer. Deeply unsettled by the change he flees to the woods in search of an antidote but the police and his vindictive business partner are already on his tracks.




Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKyBQAI2dDo

Young doctor Fabian travels to Lisbon to win back his ex-girlfriend Doro. While the two of them are gradually getting closer again they are being haunted by their fears. Fabians jealousy once again puts their relationship to the test…

Grüsse aus Fukushima / Greetings From Fukushima



Trailer: https://youtu.be/MDL1NJrIDjg

Young German woman Marie escapes to Fukushima to change her life. Working with the organisation Clowns4Help, she hopes to bring joy to 2011 nuclear disaster survivors, some still living in emergency shelters. Marie soon realizes she‘s absolutely unsuited to the task of making tragedy less wearisome. But instead of running away, Marie decides to stay with cantankerous old Satomi, the last geisha of Fukushima, who of her own accord has decided to retreat back to her ruined house in the formerly radioactive Exclusion Zone. Two women who couldn‘t be more different, but who –  each in her own way – are trapped in the past and must learn to liberate themselves from guilt and the burden of memory.

Karl Marx City



Trailer: https://vimeo.com/207371872

Twenty-five years after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), filmmaker Petra Epperlein returns to the proletarian Oz of her childhood to find the truth about her late father’s suicide and his rumored Stasi past. Had he been an informant for the secret police? Was her childhood an elaborate fiction? As she looks for answers in the Stasi’s extensive archives, she pulls back the curtain of her own ostalgia and enters the parallel world of the security state, seeing her former life through the lens of the oppressor. Reconstructing everyday GDR life through declassified Stasi surveillance footage, the past plays like dystopian science fiction, providing a chilling backdrop to interrogate the apparatus of control and the meaning of truth in a society where every action and thought was suspect.




Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djRGwvNr4bs

Painting is an unacceptable vocation for a woman in provincial Germany in the year 1900, but budding artist Paula Becker is determined to make her own rules. The exuberant 24-year-old woman rejects the conventional and explores her unique style. She flourishes in the countryside art community of Worpswede, where she develops friendships with artist Clara Westhoff and poet Rainer Maria Rilke. By marrying painter Otto Modersohn, she hopes to find a creative soulmate. He allows her to continue painting while assuming her duties as a good wife. Five years of domesticity take its toll on Paula’s spirit, and she travels alone to modern Paris, where she studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and soon begins a romantic affair. Headstrong Paula is unstoppable: she embarks on a period that will become her most compelling; a long-awaited period of creative fulfilment and self-realization...

Tschick / Goodbye Berlin



Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXhJIelNPWk

While his mother is in rehab and his father is on a ‘business trip‘ with his assistant, 14-year-old outsider Maik is spending the summer holidays bored and alone at his parents’ villa, when rebellious teenager Tschick appears. Tschick, a Russian immigrant and an outcast, steals a car and decides to set off on a journey away from Berlin with Maik tagging along for the ride. So begins a wild adventure where the two experience the trip of a lifetime and share a summer that they will never forget.

About the visiting directors and actors:


Anand Batbileg comes from a Mongolian family. He got known as an actor by being chosen for Fatih Akin's feature film Tschick (2016). The German production company had unsuccessfully searched for a suitable actor in Russia and Mongolia and finally contacted the Mongolian Embassy. Batbileg's father, an employee of the Embassy, ​​heard about the casting call, which he printed and left in his son’s room. The paper, which Batbileg had mistaken for waste, reappeared only weeks later, and he applied for the role of "Tschick" by sending in a short video.

During the shooting of Tschick, which were scheduled in between school, the 13-year-old Batbileg learned from a stuntman how to drive on cordoned of streets. Since Batbileg is much taller than his canvas partner Tristan Göbel, Director Fatih Akin had to shoot the film in the format 1: 1.85, instead of 1: 2.35 or widescreen format.

Anand Batbileg lives with two younger brothers in Berlin-Pankow. He attends the international school and some of his hobbies are drumming in a big band and taekwondo.

Doris Dörrie was born May 26, 1955, in Hannover. In 1973 she moved to the USA for two years in order to study acting and film at the University of the Pacific, Stockton/CA. She also studied at the New School of Social Research in New York. In 1975, she returned to Germany and attended the Academy for Television and Film (HFF) in Munich. In 1978 she graduated with her movie “Der erste Walzer” (The First Waltz).

Afterwards she worked on several films including “Paula aus Portugal" (Paula from Portugal) and "Dazwischen" (Inbetween). Her movie "Mitten ins Herz" (Straight Through the Heart) was shown at the Venice Film Festival. Dörrie’s movie “Männer” (Men) was a great popular success, starring with Heiner Lauterbach and Uwe Ochsenknecht. In 1986, Lauterbach also played in Dörrie’s next tragicomedy "Paradies" (Paradise). Bernd Eichinger signed Dörrie for the international production of "Ich und Er" (Me and Him). The movie was shot in New York and focused on the architect Bert Uttanzi (played by Griffing Dunne) and his experiences with women. In the following years she also directed the comedy "Geld" (Money) and the literary adaptation "Happy Birthday, Türke" (Happy Birthday!).

In 1987, Dörrie had began to publish short stories and books. The movie "Keiner liebt mich" (Nobody Loves Me) is based on characters of one of her short stories. In 2002 she wrote the first part of “Mimi” – the children’s book series happened to be of great success. In the following years she published more books and was manyfolds rewarded for her work as a writer.

At the same time Dörrie shot several very popular and successful movies, e.g. "Bin ich schön?" (Am I Beautiful?), "Nackt" (Naked) and “Kirschblüten - Hanami“ (Cherry Blossoms).

Since 1997, Dörrie is qualified as a professor and holds lectures at the HFF Munich. Beside her profession as a film director, Dörrie also staged 7 operas. So far she has made 32 Films, published 23 books and has been honored with over 30 awards.

Selected Filmography as Director:

2016      Greetings from Fukushima          

2012      Glück (Happiness)

2010      Klimawechsel (Climatic Change) (TV serial)

                  Die Friseuse (The Hairdresser)

2008      Kirschblüten - Hanami (engl. title: Cherry Blossoms)

2007      Wie man sein Leben kocht (engl. title: How to Cook Your Life)

2002      Nackt (engl. title: Naked)

1998      Denk ich an Deutschland - Augenblick (Thinking of Germany – Catching a Glimpse)

                  ¿Bin ich schön? (engl. title: Am I Beautiful?) 

1994      Keiner liebt mich (engl. title: Nobody Loves Me) 

1989      Love in Germany

1988      Ich und Er (engl. title: Me and Him)

1986      Paradies (engl. title: Paradise)

1985      Männer... (engl. title: Men...) 

                  Im Innern des Wals (engl. title: In the Belly of the Whale)

Filmmakers Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, aka Pepper & Bones, are a husband-and-wife team who work between Berlin and New York. Epperlein was born in Karl Marx Stadt, GDR and began her professional life as an architect. Tucker was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and fell into camerawork after an accident on a factory trawler led him to pick up his first camera. They met in New York in 1994 and immediately began work on the THE LAST COWBOY—one of the earliest examples of digital film.

Later travels took them to the African bush, the Australian outback, Cuba, and the Balkans until they stumbled upon their first documentary in the Iraq War. That film, GUNNER PALACE, premiered at Telluride and TIFF in 2004 and led them directly to their second feature, THE PRISONER OR: HOW I PLANNED TO KILL TONY BLAIR, which told the story of an Iraqi journalist seen arrested in GUNNER PALACE and later sent to Abu Ghraib. The film premiered at TIFF in 2006 and was later nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. In 2007, they captured the life of a German armored car salesman in BULLETPROOF SALESMAN against the backdrop of spiraling violence (and demand) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Returning to America in 2008, they followed the soldiers of GUNNER PALACE home in HOW TO FOLD A FLAG, which premiered at TIFF in 2009. One of the characters in that film led them to the world of MMA fighting in FIGHTVILLE. In 2013, their film THE FLAG, for CNN Films, looked at the symbols and icons of 9/11 America.

Tristan Göbel was born in August 2002. He is an actor, known for Tschick (2016), Westen (2013) and Helle Nächte (2017). He played in several films for TV and Cinema. He likes listening to and making music and plays the violin. He lives on a farm with his family and helps a lot in his free time. He's also into athletics.

Stephan Rick was born in 1974 and trained as a camera assistant, followed by studies in Art History, Drama, Television and Film. Active as a freelance director, his work includes: the TV series ALLEIN GEGEN DIE ZEIT, the crime series episode EINE MÖRDERISCHE IDEE for the popular POLIZEIRUF series, and the features UNTER NACHBARN (2011) and THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (2015).

Christian Schwochow studied at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Film Academy. He garnered attention in 2008 with his debut feature film, NOVEMBER CHILD, whose cast featured several well-known actors and won the Audience Award at the Max Ophüls Festival. Schwochow's two-part TV film THE TOWER (2012) won the prestigious Grimme Award. His second feature film, CRACKS IN THE SHELL (2011), received several accolades, including the German Film Award for Best Supporting Actress. His most recent feature film, WEST (2013), also won the German Film Award, this time for Best Actress. Later, Schwochow made his debut as a theatre director with POISON at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. The production was awarded with the Deutscher Theaterpreis ("German Theatre Prize") for Best Actress.


2016 PAULA

2016 NSU GERMAN HISTORY X - The Perpetrators (TV Mini-series)


2013 WEST

2012 THE TOWER (TV mini-series)



Karin Steinberger is feature editor for Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), the leading broadsheet paper in Germany. She studied at the Deutsche Journalistenschule Munich, since 2001 she is working for the prestigious Page Three of the SZ. She has received several awards for her articles and is a Fellow of

the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She met Jens Soering the first time in 2006 and is in

constant contact with Jens since. The article she wrote after that visit was the first article in Germany about this case, at that time in Germany nobody was aware of this German in a US prison.

After that Soering became a huge subject in his home country, a support group for Jens Soering was found and many German politicians started to be interested in the case. Karin is in constant contact with Jens since more than ten years now. Three years ago she asked Marcus if he is interested to make a documentary about this case, which she found extraordinary in many ways.

What struck her from the first moment was the fact that so many witnesses were never asked and so many facts were ignored. The film is trying to dig in much deeper.

Together with Marcus Vetter she made the documentary Hunger, which won the Robert Geisendörfer Preis 2011, and 2015 The Forecaster. The Promise is their third project together.


2016 THE PROMISE Documentary

2015 THE FORECASTER Documentary

2009 HUNGER TV- Documentary


Hunger (2009)

Robert Geisendörfer Preis 2011

The Forecaster (2015)

DOXA Documentary 2015 - Best of Selection

Docfest Munich 2015 - Best of Selection

Official selection at 14 International Film Festivals including IDFA,

DocsBarcelona, SIFF


About the partners:

The German Embassy in Pretoria as the official representation of the Federal Government of Germany in South Africa works on strengthening the relationship as well as building bridges between both countries. We work for an intercultural dialogue that comprises an open and respectful exchange between groups with different cultural backgrounds. The Embassy promotes political and economic relations but also intensifies the cooperation of research, technology, social policy, agriculture, development policy and culture. Our daily work contains a wide range of diverse projects from the field of renewable energies to research cooperation to dance collaborations.

German Films Service + Marketing GmbH is the national information and advisory centre for the promotion of German films worldwide. The work of German Films aims to raise the level of awareness of German Films abroad through information services, lobbying activities, public relations

and marketing measures and afford its visibility on the international media scene. Such measures incorporate, amongst others, the provision of viewings at no charge and collective submissions for German films at international festivals, the support of German focused programmes as well as the creation of networking opportunities, the organisation of events such as The Festival of German Films in various large cities or the German Films Previews for international buyers, the publication of information material as well as the promotion of German film releases abroad.

The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide. We promote the study of German abroad and encourage international cultural exchange. Our Cultural Programmes Department focuses on a variety of different artistic approaches from the visual arts to drama, dance, literature, film, and interdisciplinary work. Our goal is to support the local cultural scenes and strengthen pan-African dialogue through the arts.

Berlinale Talents is the annual summit and networking platform of the Berlin International Film Festival for 250 emerging filmmakers. In addition to an extensive programme of master classes and panel discussions with top-notch experts, Berlinale Talents offers a range of Project Labs, in which filmmakers develop and present their own projects, and Studio workshops concentrating on specific disciplines. Berlinale Talents has international offshoots in Beirut, Buenos Aires, Guadalajara, Durban, Sarajevo, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. With a similar structure and purpose as their German counterpart, they each retain a regional perspective and draw on the expertise and support of a local international film festival.