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Berlinale: Famous Berlin film festival to spotlight pandemic-era movies

Berlin's international film festival next month will feature 15 movies made under the pandemic in competition for its Golden Bear top prize, organisers said Thursday.

Berlinale: Famous Berlin film festival to spotlight pandemic-era movies
A scene from pandemic-era film and Berlinale entry, 'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn'. Photo: DPA

Directors including Emmy winner Maria Schrader (“Unorthodox”),
German-Spanish actor Daniel Brühl (“Rush”) and French director Celine Sciamma (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) will be premiering new work at the event, which will take place online because of Germany's partial lockdown.

The Berlinale's artistic director, Carlo Chatrian, said all contenders for the top prizes at the March 1st-5th event were “films that either in their production or their post-production process have endured the pandemic”.

READ ALSO: Berlin's Berlinale film fest to be held both online and live due to pandemic

“If only a few of them show directly the new world we are living in, all of them carry beneath their surfaces the uncertain times we are experiencing,” he said in a video presenting the lineup.

“A sense of apprehension is everywhere.”

Schrader will unveil “I'm Your Man”, a sci-fi comedy about a woman played by Sandra Hüller (“Toni Erdmann”) finding a custom-made Mr Right.

Brühl, who came to international attention with the bittersweet comedy “Good Bye, Lenin” and is now part of the Captain America franchise, will make his directorial debut with “Next Door” about gentrification in Berlin.

Sciamma, who scooped the best screenplay award in Cannes with her critical smash hit “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, has completed “Petite Maman” starring two young girls.

Two-part festival

One of Romania's top filmmakers, Radu Jude, who won the Berlinale's Silver Bear in 2015 for “Aferim!” about the origins of prejudice against the Roma, is back with “Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn” about a teacher whose sex tape winds up on the internet.

Lebanese directors Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige will screen “Memory Box” about an immigrant mother in Montreal facing flashbacks of her country's civil war.

“Albatross” by France's Xavier Beauvois (“Of Gods and Men”) tells of the trials of a police officer in a northern village.

Festival circuit favourite Hong Sang-soo of South Korea will show “Introduction” featuring his frequent muse Kim Min-hee, who clinched best actress in Berlin in 2017.

Other titles include “A Cop Movie”, a Mexican documentary by Alonso Ruizpalacios, Iranian death penalty drama “Ballad of a White Cow” by Behtash Sanaeeha and Maryam Moghaddam and Denes Nagy's Hungarian World War II feature
“Natural Light”.

The Berlinale, now in its 71st edition, is the first major European cinema showcase of the year and ranks with Cannes and Venice among the continent's top film festivals.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, it is scheduled to take place in two parts this year, one in March for industry professionals and one in June with screenings for general audiences.

The jury will be made up of six previous Golden Bear winners including last year's laureate, dissident Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, who claimed the prize for “There Is No Evil” about capital punishment in his country.

By Deborah Cole

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CULTURE

‘Sandals mean freedom’: Eight tips on how to dress like a German

Germans have an international reputation for enjoying functional clothing. A top German fashion expert told The Local whether the stereotypes of German fashion are really true - and what Angela Merkel has to do with modern style.

‘Sandals mean freedom’: Eight tips on how to dress like a German

‘Comfortable and practical’

“It’s pretty easy to define German style,” says Bernhard Roetzel, the author of books on men’s fashion such as ‘Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion’. “Nowadays the basic dress of a grown-up man is mainly blue jeans, some kind of sweatshirt and an anorak. The shoes are usually comfortable sneakers. This is the basic German fashion that everyone from workers to doctors wears, and it is suitable for 90 percent of occasions.”

The basic theme, he says, is comfort and practicality. “That is very important.”

According to Roetzel, this love for the practical stretches all the way back into the 19th century when most other Europeans still had strict public dress codes.

“It began with a movement called Lebensreform, which valued things like vegetarianism and woollen clothes, which were supposed to be healthy,” he says.

“Even if Germans at the time didn’t like political freedom, they loved the freedom to wear sandals. Freedom for Germans is to wear sandals in places where it is not appropriate!”

A woman lies on the shore of the Schwarzachtalsee in Baden-Württemberg still wearing her sandals. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Thomas Warnack

Dressing down became even more acceptable after the First World War, when Germany became a republic and the aristocracy, with its formal sense of dress, lost its importance. “The Nazis also propagated being active outdoors,” Roetzel notes. “Fashion was seen as something awful created by the French and the Jews to bring about the downfall of German culture.”

When the craze for casual wear crossed the pond from the US in the 1960s, Germans were slow to adopt it. But now jeans are even standard clothing for septuagenarians, he says. “Twenty years after jeans arrived people started to realise that they are great for all occasions – and now everyone wears them. This was the last blow to formal German clothing.”

Dress down for work

The German love for all-purpose clothes means that it is perfectly appropriate to wear jeans to work, according to Roetzel. 

“If you don’t work in a bank or law firm you can probably wear jeans in most offices. A non-iron, short sleeve shirt is also very important. German men love these shirts, despite the fact that you get hot in them.”

You can even wear sneakers in the office. Or, if you have to look a bit smarter “some very cheap, comfortable leather shoes” will make you fit right in.

“In business, it is very important that you don’t stand out,” Roetzel advises. “If you are smartly dressed people will ask if you have an important meeting or will think you are looking for a pay rise. For everyday business, you dress as casually as possible.”

A woman cycles to work in jeans and a simple jacket in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Christin Klose

Nothing too sexy

Meanwhile, women’s workplace style, perhaps even more than men’s, is based on the principle of ‘the more forgettable the better.’

“Women in German business must not look too sexy,” says the fashion writer. “If you wear a skirt, for example, it should not be too short and heels should not be too high.” A “boxy, mouse grey suit” including a jacket that doesn’t complement one’s figure completes the look.

“Whereas in Italy, businesswomen carry Chanel bags, in Germany they usually carry a laptop bag or something very practical. Makeup is also rather reduced, not too much lipstick, nothing that is too obvious,” he says.

No door policy

Ties are basically a redundant piece of apparel in modern Germany, meaning wearing one really is a matter of choice in most settings.

“There are very few places where you are not allowed in if you don’t wear a tie,” says Roetzel. “I don’t know a single restaurant that wouldn’t admit you if you don’t wear a tie. You might not be allowed into Cologne Cathedral if your shorts are too short, but basically, you can wear everything everywhere and Germans love this!”

Funerals and weddings

Even the most formal occasions, such as weddings, funerals and important birthdays are much more informal events than they once were.

“At funerals, people will wear black but they rarely wear a black suit, most people will wear a black sweatshirt and jeans,” says Roetzel.

Copy Merkel

Angela Merkel’s unpretentious style appealed to Germans. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Fabian Sommer

Anyone looking for inspiration need look no further than recently retired German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who famously wore variations on the same trouser suit for most of her career.

“She had different colours and fabrics but that was her uniform and she also found her hairstyle and that was it. I don’t think she had a stylist,” Roetzel says. “That’s what Germans love. It’s recognizable and it doesn’t look expensive.”

READ ALSO:

“In Germany, one thing you should never admit to is wearing expensive, tailor-made clothes,” he explains. “As a politician, you can admit that you like drinking but you should never admit to having an expensive wardrobe.”

In fact, the cheaper the better. “Olaf Scholz has always earned a lot of money but his clothes are awful, his suits are awful – this is just perfect for Germany,” says Roetzel.

Splash the cash subtly (or on outdoor clothes)

This is not to say that all Germans wear cheap clothes, but they don’t make a big fuss about the brands that they do wear.

“People want to express status by wearing certain brands,” Roetzel points out. “But in Germany, this is done in a very subtle way. You will see small details in the clothes and glasses of a professor or doctor that will tell you a lot. Class exists but people hide their status because it is negative to show it off. This can be hard for foreigners to detect.”

There is one major exemption thought to the rule of not flaunting your wealth – outdoor apparel.

“Outdoor clothes are really a big thing here,” Roetzel says. “It gives people a sense of freedom and healthiness. Spending €800 on an outdoor jacket is perfectly okay. But it is a sin to spend the same amount on a tailor-made suit – you will destroy your image if you admit to doing this.”

Moreover, anyone who wants to impress Germans through their possessions would be better advised to buy a good car or modern kitchen, the fashion expert says. “It is perfectly normal to have a very expensive kitchen, but your clothes should still be cheap.”

Focus on inner beauty

The German (dis)interest in fashion can actually tell us a lot about deeper German values.

“There is an old Prussian saying of mehr sein als schein (content is better than appearance). Germans feel that if something is too beautiful there must be something fishy about it. Anyone who is too smartly dressed could be a conman,” says Roetzel.

“Germans are very honest, they like to be very direct. They say “what’s the point in not wearing sandals if it’s hot?’”

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