German cinema should become more international. This wish has been expressed to the industry for some time. Diversity, a variety of voices, new stories – such demands from sponsors and editors repeatedly collide with sluggish structures. The Film Academy used a little trick this year that made German cinema appear more international in one fell swoop. The Austrian film “Große Freiheit” by Sebastian Meise and the international production “Spencer” by Chilean Pablo Larraín are among the six nominees for the best film 2022, as the organizers of “Lolas” announced on Thursday.
This is good news artistically, both films are among the highlights of the year. However, the nominations cast a dubious light on German film, because the industry adorns itself with the wrong feathers. Even if the selection complies with the regulations, this signal follows the logic of the funding bureaucracy.
In Cannes and Venice, where the films had their world premieres, neither “Große Freiheit” nor “Spencer” were received as German films. They are German co-productions; behind “Spencer” is the Berliner Komplizen Film (“Toni Erdmann”). German films have recently been in short supply at international festivals.
More film location than film art
And if there is one, the members of the academy manage to consistently ignore it: Locarno prizewinner “No one is with the calves” has not been nominated for either best film or director (Sabrina Sarabi). After all, leading actress Saskia Rosendahl has a chance, but is there against the bear winner Meltem Kaptan.
The critical view of “national” categories has little to do with chauvinistic arrogance. On the contrary, it shows that the German industry is good at promoting the film location, but that these investments are not being passed on to domestic production in a sustainable manner. The titles with the most nominations are Andreas Dresen’s double Bären winner Rabiye Kurnaz vs. George W. Bush (ten) and the Brasch biopic Lieber Thomas (twelve) by Andreas Kleinert.
The international reach of both films is manageable, even if Dresen is looking across the Atlantic this time. Artistically, both films are solid averages, somewhere between a Berlinale subscription and German television. They will still decide the race among themselves. The only significant thing is that the Film Academy, by nominating “Große Freiheit” and “Spencer”, follows the logic of the sponsors, who see German cinema primarily as a business location.