DEAR THOMAS/Lieber Thomas – Director Andreas Kleinert, Writer Thomas Wendrich
Rebel. Poet. Revolutionary: LIEBER THOMAS is director Andreas Kleinert’s declaration of love to the writer Thomas Brasch. Brought to life congenially by actor Albrecht Schuch the B&W biopic of East German writer and filmmaker Thomas Brasch (he came to the Goethe-Institut San Francisco for a reading in the 90s) takes place mostly behind the Iron Curtain, also the former home of the director, which adds to the authenticity of this portrait of rebellion and excess. It reveals a deeply subversive artist who finds comfort on neither side of the Wall (Talinn Black Nights Film Festival).
NEXT DOOR/Nebenan – Director Daniel Brühl, Writer Daniel Kehlmann/Daniel Brühl
Daniel Brühl’s directorial debut pokes fun at the not so attractive version of his privileged, celebrated self. With the help of writer Daniel Kehlmann the navel-gazing satire takes a bad turn when digging into gentrification and much more. An older neighbor (Peter Kurth) who in Hitchcock style has watched the actor and his family for years through their glass windows and credit cards is ready to take his revenge.
MR. BACHMANN AND HIS CLASS/Herr Bachmann und seine Klasse – Director/Writer Maria Speth
Seventeen years of teaching at any school is a long time – teaching teenagers is more challenging and teenagers coming with a migration background and speaking many different languages is even more demanding. I taught for 20 years a variety of students, mostly between 12 and 22 and when I finally quit I asked myself, was I a good teacher? Did I leave my mark on anybody? What does it take to be a good teacher?
Mr. Bachmann gives the answer to my questions. Be openminded, be compassionate, lead them with strength and honesty towards knowledge and success and on that path offer them a variety of activities they can engage in, especially art and music – lots of music because that’s what most teenagers can relate to. Mr. Bachmann, a musician and sculptor himself, had the right background for this immense task. Teaching a class of teenagers whose first language is anything but German in a town with a long history of heavy industry opens a small window into our present multifaceted world, not just in Germany. The filmmaker spent an academic year with Mr. Bachmann in his classroom, we, the audience, spend three and a half hours with him and his class. We get insights in his teaching, not much in Mr. Bachmann, the person, we get to know his 15 students, their strength and fears and weaknesses. The film has been compared to Frederic Wiseman’s long documentaries that focus more on social structures than on individuals – here the teacher is the center, perhaps a reason why the film might not have suffered from cutting it to a shorter version. After 17 years of teaching Mr. Bachmann retires. His students transfer to different schools that he had recommended for them. Will they succeed? Did he give them a lasting foundation for our challenging, complicated world? Will they build on what he gave them? Mr. Bachmann does not leave us with tears over his retirement but with a glimpse of hope for his class and the future.
PS Don’t miss Peter Luisi’s PRINCESS – his films are always a special treat.