German-language movies will be the focus of a new film festival that is taking place for the first time in the UAE. Held in collaboration with the German Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region and Cinema Akil in Dubai, the event runs from Thursday to Saturday, November 19 to 21 and takes place at Cinema Akil, but will also be live-streamed throughout the UAE and Bahrain.
The festival will open with the award-winning film Undine by Christian Petzold, which had its world premiere at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival, where Paula Beer who plays the titular role won the Silver Bear for Best Actress.
In the film, Petzold reimagines the myth of Undine, as a modern love story. The mysterious water spirit, who as the myth story goes, becomes human when she falls in love with a man but is doomed to die if he is unfaithful to her.
Acclaimed director Andreas Dresen's Gundermann is a biopic based on the story of Gerhard Gundermann, a struggling singer/songwriter raised in former East Germany who spent time as a coal miner and an informant for the state before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Byambasuren Davaa's Veins of the World is a drama set in Mongolia about a young boy who turns grief into a source of power after the sudden death of his father. This was Davaa's feature debut and also premiered at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.
First-time director Nora Fingscheidt's System Crasher is about a nine-year-old girl called Benni who is described as a "system crasher" by child protection services because of her out-of-control behaviour. The film looks very closely at how the child welfare system can fail children they're meant to protect. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won both the Alfred Bauer and Reader Jury's prize.
Haifaa Al Mansour's The Perfect Candidate is a Saudi-German co-production that follows the story of a young female doctor who decides to run for municipal office in a largely patriarchal society. The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last year.
David Nawrath's The Mover is a powerful feature film debut about a former weightlifter named Walter, who works as a hauler for forced evictions. Walter ignores the increasing pain caused by his physically demanding job just as he refuses to see the pain of the people his work surrounds him with.
One-Way to Moscow by Micha Lewinsky is a tragicomedy take on the political surveillance of Swiss citizens towards the end of the Cold War.
Filmmaker and actress Maryam Zaree's documentary Born in Evin follows her quest to discover the violent circumstances surrounding her birth inside one of the world's most notorious political prisons.
A Hidden Life by Terrence Malick tells the true story of an Austrian farmer Franz Jagerstatter who refused to fight for the Nazis. Written by Malick, the film is inspired by the letters exchanged between Jagerstatter and his wife Franziska once he was imprisoned. A resistance drama, it reflects on courage in the battle against evil.
Finally, the festival will close with Dust by Udita Bhargava, which also premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival 2020. It is an Indo-German co-production and is set around a young German who visits rural India after the death of his Indian photojournalist girlfriend.
The Gulf German Film Festival runs from Thursday to Saturday, November 19 to 21, www.goethe.de