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Taipei Film Festival spotlights on Berlin, young filmmakers

Movie buffs can see a strong selection of German, Latin American, and local films through the 2009 Taipei Film Festival, as the highly-anticipated film festival kicks off in late June and lasts until middle of July. Berlin, the city of cinema, was chosen as the theme city for this year's film festival, which runs from June 26 to July 12.

Jane H.C. Yu, curator of the film festival, said she's always wanted to feature Berlin as a cinematic delight for movie lovers of Taipei Film Festival (TFF). "Very few cities in the world have seen such dramatic change as Berlin has. There were the two wars, the split, the unification; Berlin went into decline and rose and prospered in the past 100 years. Its cinematic greatness can be experienced at the upcoming Taipei Film Festival," said Yu, a famous film curator and film critic, who has translated quite a few film theory books.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, providing an added boost for the TFF to showcase films that are shot in Berlin or produced by Berlin’s production companies. More than 30 films featuring the city of Berlin will be shown across the two-week long festival.
Yu said the Berlin theme not only includes some must-see classic German films, but also movies created by the younger generations. "The younger generations of German directors tell their stories with less political edges, but they represent a vibrant cinematic scene in Germany. Their creative voices should be heard,” said Yu. Some of the must-see classic films are, “People on Sunday,” the first independent-made film in Germany, "Girls in Uniform,” Germany’s first lesbian film, “The Murderers are among Us,” the first East Germany film shot after the World War I, and “Germany in Autumn,” a compilation of films by 13 seminal new wave filmmakers attempting to shine a light on the new Germany. Movie titles created by younger directors include "Storm,” “Ghosted,” “Deadly Maria.” "Germany 09,” which is modeled on “Germany in Autumn,” was selected as one of the two opening films for the TFF.

Yu said another surprise for the TFF this year was a selection of 12 films from Latin America. In the past, establishing rapport and communication with Latin American film directors had been difficult, said Yu, but this year a lot of progress has been achieved. . On top of the must-see list from these films is Pablo Aguero’s self-autobiographic story “Salamander.”

As the film festival dedicates itself to featuring films made by rising local and international filmmakers, this year’s “New Talent Competition” selection is all worth checking out. There are 12 films, including two from Taiwan (“Parking” and "Yang Yang"), competing for the section’s NT$600,000 top prize for the Best Feature. Directors competing in the category will come to Taiwan and make exchanges with local filmmakers and fans.

Another highlight of the TFF is the Taipei Award, which sees a total of 19 local films, including one animation "Port of Return,” competing for the top NT$1 million prize.