04/01/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Berliner Zeitung, 04.01.2006

Andreas Dresen's latest film "Sommer vorm Balkon" (Summer in Berlin), which follows on his critical success "Halbe Treppe" (Grill Point), hits the screens in Germany tomorrow. Stephan Speicher has seen it and is thrilled. "All of the actors, even the smaller parts, are wonderful. Every character is bound up with their individual fate; each actor shows how difficult that is without becoming sentimental. The dialogues are too quick, too certain. And this reflects Berlin just the way you want to see it: plenty of soul and no nonsense, adapting to things as they come up. Where love has its problems, you can make up for it by trying to pull your life together. And that's nothing to sneeze at. Katrin is very orderly in her despair: 'I'm going to sell my things, pay off all my debts and kill myself. Or I'll go back home to Freiburg.' A fate comparable to suicide."

Anke Westphal interviews Wolfgang Kohlhaase, who wrote the filmscript to "Summer in Berlin". Asked about the "real life" nature of his filmscripts, Kohlhaase states: "A lot of things have changed in society, and in people's feelings. But then again a lot of things haven't. In "Summer in Berlin" I do what I was already doing 25 years ago, for example in "Solo Sunny". I tell a story from Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district. There people live colourful, exuberant lives, in contrasts, and very much day by day. I always liked that, and I also know a thing or two about it. I can speak in my own tone of voice, I don't have to take on an accent. And it's all the better that Andreas Dresen is the director – someone with a similar take on the city. Because he's interested in people, without feeling that he's got to justify his interest. And like me he thinks its not worth it to introduce characters only to denounce them. It's not worth the trouble."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 04.01.2006


The Europeans are keenly watching the rise of Asian states like China and India. Urs Schoettli asks whether it wouldn't be a good time to get to know a little about their respective cultures. "To know what role Ram Mohan Roy and the Bengal Renaissance played, who Kang Youwei was and what the consequences of the Meiji Restoration were, is not only an enrichment for one's own understanding, it can also help out in business. Knowledge of the latter, for example, means knowing the extraordinary ability of the Japanese to pull themselves together and start again through collective determination."


Der Tagesspiegel, 04.01.2006

Two Ukrainian authors, Oksana Zabuzhko and Mykola Riabchuk comment on the gas dispute with Russia and how the Ukrainians are reacting at ground level. On New Year's Eve, Riabchuk tells us, "One of the most popular electronic postcards people were sending each other showed a slightly altered bottle of Soviet sparkling wine. But on the familiar label, the word 'Russian' had been replaced with 'Ukrainian' and written above in big letters 'Gas free!' Obviously the Ukrainians have not lost their sense of humour."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 04.01.2006

The Russian writer Andrey Kurkov tells Sonja Zekri that he does not believe that Germany can or wants to mediate in the gas conflict between Russian and Ukraine. "How could it? When Gerhard Schröder wants to work for Gazprom? Now we see how the EU treats its old and new members. And we see that energy is more important than democracy again. Like in America, where oil is more important than democracy. The Baltic states have not received the slightest support from Brussels for their protest against the Baltic Sea pipeline. But the odd thing is that both Ukraine and Europe are suddenly realising how entirely dependent they are on the Russian energy supply."


Die Welt, 04.01.2006

Jochen Schmidt portrays the choreographer Marco Goecke, in whom he sees tremendous promise: "Goecke was born in 1972 in Wuppertal, and became interested in dance relatively late, although of course he always had connections to Wuppertal icon Pina Bausch, even if these were rather negative at first. When his mother was pregnant with him, she walked out of one of Bausch's early works in a rage. It was winter and the streets were slippery, and she fell down and lay down on the street 'with me inside her'. Twenty years later when she finally heard the story, Pina Bausch offered her condolences."

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