Do You Speak Deutsch: Berlin and Beyond Film Festival 2010

After travelling down the west coast of the US with stops in Seattle (more film and literature events) and Portland (books and voodoo doughnuts) I was very excited to be back in one of my favourite places in the world: San Francisco. As it happened there was a German film festival on, so naturally I joined as a volunteer.

It was really nice to run into Jan Tenhaven again, the director of Autumn Gold, which won the prize for best documentary at the 15th edition of Berlin and Beyond. All the screenings were held in the Castro Theatre from 22 until 28 October 2010, so my volunteering routine consisted largely of catching the F line tram to the Castro every day, getting my daily supply of yummy cookies from Hot Cookie next door and then settling into a few hours of handing out audience awards and watching films.

The festival had just gone through quite some change with new management and lots of motivated, first time volunteers. A lot of them were bilingual and the audience was both made up of Bay Area locals as well as people from a number of German-speaking countries. One highlight for me was definitely the talk by Pope Joan author Donna Woolfolk Cross accompanying the screening of the film of the same title. How interesting that the King Arthur myth got picked up early on when this, at least equally interesting story, had stayed hidden for such a long time.

The drama Julia’s Disappearance by Swiss director Christoph Schaub was a real pleasure to watch, the dialogues were spot on and he was also very pleasant to talk to at the closing party. All in all the festival was a great opportunity for San Franciscans with a weakness for German culture to indulge in some contemporary cinematic gems as well as for recent or not so recent immigrants to network with likeminded souls.

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