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International treasures

Over a dozen films, 14 days, and some of the most interesting contemporary directors of our time. Around the World in 14 Films focuses on films that don't have distribution yet (in Germany), so this might be your only chance to catch these gems.

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Life During Wartime

Around the World in 14 Films will do exactly what the title promises – lead you to the far reaches of the globe in just over a dozen films, which are all presented by renowned German film professionals from Meret Becker to Thomas Arslan.

The festival focuses on films that don’t have distribution yet, like the Mexican Leap Year, which might in fact never be generally released due to its explicit S&M scenes, but it’s worth risking a depression to follow this case study in loneliness (Dec 1, 22:00 & Dec 2, 19:00).

Todd Solondz’s festival favorite Life During Wartime, starring the vastly underrated Allison Janney, finally makes it to Germany (Dec 3, 20:00). Visually striking, episodic and ultimately intensely rewarding, the film is always apparently one step ahead of its audience, who might struggle to keep up with what’s going on.

Probably even more enigmatic is the Chinese study in stoicism Winter Vacation, which will try your patience, but reward it with an ending worthy of Kaurismäki (Dec 1, 19:30 & Dec 2, 22:00).

Although the world has recently taken notice of Romania as a film country, it’s still unusual to see films like Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, a strange and penetrating biopic, in which the life of the infamous Romanian dictator is told solely through the man’s public appearances: 20 years of official propaganda, world leaders shaking hands, photo ops, footage of Ceausescu supervising projects that we know will fail – only archival footage. Deprived of its context and background and edited with a fictional monologue as voiceover, the footage engages the viewer in a reflection about power, propaganda and the fickleness of politics and image.