• Germany's news in English
Epic father-daughter comedy picked for Oscars success
A scene from film Toni Erdmann. Photo: DPA

Epic father-daughter comedy picked for Oscars success

Jörg Luyken · 25 Aug 2016, 14:41

Published: 25 Aug 2016 14:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Aug 2016 14:41 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Everyone knows there’s nothing quite like a tedious epic to whet an Oscar member’s appetite during voting season.

So maybe it was with this in mind that the jury at German Films picked the 164-minute-long Toni Erdmann as Germany’s nomination for the 2017 Oscar for best foreign language film.

But, if this was the reasoning for the decision announced on Thursday in Munich, the comparisons end there.

Toni Erdmann is a comedy for a start, and such films are not supposed to be nearly three hours long - nor are they supposed to have much chance at the Oscars.

Nonetheless it was picked over several big releases with obvious international appeal, including the film adaptation of Er ist wieder da (He’s back), a novel which imagines Hitler arriving in 21st century Germany, and The Diary of Anne Frank.

The movie, directed by Maren Ade, is a worthy choice, and it is heartening to see that the jury went for something wholly contemporary rather than yet another treatment of the Nazi past.

Despite its three hours, Toni Erdmann never ceases to provoke, as it tackles one of Germany’s favourite subjects, Spiessigkeit (ordinariness/ conventionality) in a way that is light and troubling at the same time.

Father Winfried is ein alter Achtundsechziger - one of the generation of 1968 student revolutionaries - now struggling by as a children°s music teacher in a small village.

He doesn’t have much besides his dog and a penchant for putting joke teeth in his mouth at inappropriate moments.

His daughter Ines, who hasn't taken off her business suit in years, works for a consultancy firm in Bucharest.

She suffers through a visit to her superannuated father back in Germany by pretending to be on the phone to important business clients.

But when Winfried’s dog dies, he decides to travel out to Romania to see his daughter.

Finding her stuck in a world where her job is to act as cover for job cuts by large multinationals and socializing means taking her client's trophy wife shopping, Winfried takes on the alter ego of a shambolic German ambassador called Toni Erdmann to bring chaos and fun into the banality.

With the help of his false teeth and a shaggy wig, it is far too easy to punch holes in his daughter’s carefully constructed world of business connections and winebar friendships.

Story continues below…

But the lonely Ines, despite her mortification, is receptive to the disruption. But confronting her own Spiessigkeit is no easy task and finally involves a lot of naked flesh and a Bulgarian yeti costume.

In justifying their nomination, the German Film jury described the movie as "brave and stylish in equal measure".

"It is touching, evocative, delves into societal questions and has an unswerving creative clarity. This is how modern cinema should be!"

The short list for the Oscars will be picked in January.

With DPA

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jörg Luyken (joerg.luyken@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd