MFAH hosts an East German film festival

University of Houston professor Sandra Friedan says there’s a funny thing about East German cinema — some of it is actually, well, funny. The films included in the Museum of Fine Art, Houston’s Rebels with a Cause Film Festival aren’t all humorous, of course, but Heiner Carow’s 1972 The Legend of Paul and Paula certainly is. The popular Paul and Paula, about a decidedly cheerful single mother and her up-and-down love life, includes a racing sound track by the East German cult rock band the Puhdys. The bumbling antics of Carbide and Sorrel, made in 1963 by director Frank Beyer, also take a lighter look at life in the post-Nazi East Germany. Friedan says, “Carbide and Sorrel is a comedy that sort of reveals problems within the bureaucracy in the Soviet bloc and sort of got away with more than it would have ordinarily because it was a comedy.”

And then there are the more serious films, like today’s Berlin. “The earliest film in the festival is 1957’s Berlin — Schönhauser Corner; that’s about teenage problems and gangs. It was very, very popular, although the official government-type critics were very nervous about it. They didn’t want to do anything to foster unrest among the teenagers, but here was [a film about] juvenile delinquents getting in trouble,” says Friedan. Divided Heaven is more serious still. “This is a very interesting experimental film directed by Konrad Wolf. It’s about a young woman who tries to commit suicide, and while she’s recuperating, she’s remembering what led to that.” Then there is Egon Günther’s 1971 film Her Third, which, like Paul and Paula, is an excellent example of the strong roles of women in East German cinema.
Sun., Oct. 14, 5 p.m., 2007


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