1649 El Prado, Balboa Park
The twinkle lights of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theatre at the Museum of Photographic Arts will once again shine upon German Currents, the third annual festival of German films.
Limited to four films and one weekend — this year’s fest runs Friday and Saturday October 5 and 6 — German Currents places quality over glitzy parties and celebrity fawning, offering San Diegans one shot at an enticing roster of imports that may never pass our way again.
International composer Enis Rotthoff will be on hand this Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. for the festival’s opening-night presentation, Measuring the World. The film posits a “playful re-imagining” of the lives of 19th-century mathematician Carl Friederich Gauss (Florian David Fritz) and scientist Alexander von Humboldt (Albrecht Abraham Schuch).
Rotthoff’s close collaboration with filmmaker Detlev Buck is said to have formed “the basis for a true cinematic concept and the inspiration for creating a musical language for the film.”
German-American actress Elisabeth Röhm (Law and Order, Abduction, Transit) will also be on hand to moderate the opening-night festivities.
Sunday brings a triple feature. Der ganz große Traum (Lessons of a Dream) stars Daniel Brühl as a 19th-century English teacher who instructs his students in the art of soccer. The family-oriented feature screens Sunday afternoon at 12:30.
Jan Ole Gerster’s feature debut Oh Boy, presented Sunday at 3:30 p.m., invites us to spend a day in the tragicomic company of Niko, a 20-something college dropout wandering the streets of Berlin in search of an identity.
I was able to preview the comedy doc Beerland, a film destined to leave audiences laughing when it brings down the curtain on this year’s festival.
Beer has never been my drug of choice, so naturally the theater started spinning halfway through the opening credits. As seen through the watery eyes of many a seasoned German sudsologist, Beerland is writer/director Matt Sweetwood’s good-natured tribute to a country where three simple ingredients — water, yeast, and hops — rule the land, and gosh only knows if they’ve ever heard of Anheuser-Busch. Deutschen sprechen nicht Budweiser.
A Midwesterner in Deutschland, Sweetwood has spent over a decade living on German soil, yet he remains a stranger in a strange land. What better way to fully assimilate than by drowning oneself in the country’s key cultural unifier: cold gold? From the milling throngs of Oktoberfest to places where no American tourist in their right mind would drink, Sweetwood develops a taste for his topic while uncovering a closer understanding of his adopted countrymen.
Beerland is not only entertaining, it’s informative! Fans of The Howard Stern Show will remember many a funny bit involving former head writer Jackie “Cold Gold” Martling’s love affair with “liquid bread,” a term I mistakenly credited the Jokeman with coining.
In one of the film’s delightful animated bridging sequences, the origins of the term are traced to the Middle Ages, when monks were master brewers who looked to beer as sustenance for the starving masses and a means of staving off the Black Plague.
Drink up, my friends, but do so in moderation. Beer culture is like gun culture: enthusiasts are only dangerous when loaded.
Tickets for the opening-night reception are $30. All other shows are $14 general admission, $12 for students and seniors. For more information, visit germancurrentssd.org.