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Shane Danielsen Discusses Das Neu Wave

The EIFF is renowned for showcasing groundbreaking European cinema. Current Artistic Director Shane Danielsen has uncovered six outstanding works which are representative of a new wave of great German...

The EIFF is renowned for showcasing groundbreaking European cinema. Current Artistic Director Shane Danielsen has uncovered six outstanding works which are representative of a new wave of great German filmmaking. Das Neu Wave, if you like.

"I didn’t set out to have a German sidebar," Shane tells me. "Many of the best independent films happened to be coming out of Germany." Not since the 1970’s heyday of Fassbinder, Herzog et al has there been such a buzz about film production in the country, and Shane sees Berlin as being at the hub of this. "There’s a movement which is being referred to as The Berlin School and these films are exemplars of that," he explains. "They’re intimate, focussed chamber movies that are informed by a minimalist, watchful tone."

This intimacy and focus is evident in both Summer ’04 and Windows on Monday, in which discontented female characters wish to escape a constrictive family unit. What makes these dramas so involving is the subtle exposition of the character’s disenchantment, hinging on terrific, understated performances by the female leads. Shane views this as a refreshing classicism which, "allows the rhythm of the performances to dictate the rhythm of the scene."

There’s a similar pace and tone to Princess, a gripping piece of social realism on a par with Leigh or Loach, which perfectly captures the tedium that drives the estate-dwelling girls into a downward spiral. There’s no need for a score to underpin proceedings here, the soundtrack is instead laced throughout with the explosion of firecrackers. It’s a deeply affecting and unsettling experience.

This contrasts sharply with the heavily processed soundtrack of Seven Heavens, with its surreal art-house styling. There’s method in the madness, though. Like each of these films, there’s a respect of narrative, a factor which influenced Shane’s selection. "The distortion of soundtrack and visuals in Seven Heavens doesn’t exist just as a series of tricks, it feeds back into the narrative and serves the story."

The films populating Das Neu Wave are low budget but that doesn’t stop them being visually striking or inventive. From the grainy B&W 16mm imaging used in the chaotic Black Sheep, to the beautifully composed cinematography of 3 Degrees Colder, this is a handsome collection of films.

There is one more factor that unifies this diverse band of new German films; these are exceptional pieces of filmmaking that shouldn't be missed.

See the films of Das Neu Wave for a fiver! Choose six films from either the State of Independents or Das Neu Wave selections for only £30. 

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