The German Film Festival has been running annually in Australia for 11 years, and I make a point of attending every year.
The selection of films is always good and invariably includes a diverse range of genres, from thriller to comedy to documentary to the historical dramas with an introspective, highly artistic and yet searingly realistic, even brutally honest approach which the Germans do so well.
You have to give it to them, classics such as "The Lives of Others"or "Goodbye Lenin!" take a period from their nation's history and open it right up, enticing the viewers to step in and participate in the emotional life of the characters and give us a first-hand insight into a world we would never be able to recreate or imagine for ourselves.
With a great German literary and dramatic tradition combined with a rich history of extreme events to draw on, from the turbulent period leading up to and during the Second World War, to the 40 or so years of the East-West divide that so marked the nation and was a reflection of the global cold war, there is a lot to choose from.
What I really like about the German Film Festival is that it showcases a complex and thriving society, the powerhouse of Europe in fact, that makes really good comedy films and children's cinema too. German classes have good films to choose from, and my son, who studied German at school, went every year with his class. The festival includes films from the other German-speaking nations, Switzerland and Austria as well.
I think it goes to show that a strong cinematic culture and artistic tradition contributes to building a nation just as much as technological and manufacturing prowess.
I remember one year the opening night and featured film was "The White Masai", the famous tale of the Swiss woman who fell in love with a Masai warrior and gave up her life in Switzerland to live with him in his remote and harsh homeland in Kenya.
If you are trying to decide which films to see, check the festival blog with helpful reviews and comments by Lynden Barber and Peter Krausz.
My top picks from the Brisbane screenings are "Sleeping Sickness" directed by Ulrich Köhler, a film set in Africa that won the Silver Bear Berlin 2011; the relationship drama "Three"" directed by Tom Tykwer of "Run Lola Run" fame; the widescreen documentary "Peak" filmed over 12 months and showing how climate change is impacting the famous Alps that border Switzerland, Italy, German and Austria (OMG they use snow-making technology there now); and also "Lessons of a Dream" because it's a historical drama and that is something German filmmakers invariably do well.