We were lucky enough to score an invitation to the opening of the 2018 German Film Festival at Palace Centro on Thursday 31 May. The room was abuzz with anticipation. Attendees were treated to complimentary glasses of red and white wine, as well as traditional Berentzen cocktails. Palace staff walked around with trays of warm salted pretzels, spinach quiches, and cheese kranskies lovingly wrapped in puff pastry. After being directed to the cinema, attendees were treated to a speech by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lothar Freischlader.

This year’s programs will feature 26 German contemporary feature films ranging from award-winning dramas and box office comedies to documentaries and a selection of short films. The Opening Night was celebrated with a screening of The Silent Revolution, a captivating Cold War-era drama that recently enjoyed its World Premiere in the Special Gala of the 2018 Berlinale International Film Festival. Directed by Lars Kraume, The Silent Revolution is set in 1956 and centres on high school students Theo (Leonard Scheicher) and Kurt (Tom Gramenz). During a visit to West Berlin, the two best friends witness news footage of the Hungarian revolt against Soviet Depression in the Budapest uprising.

Upon returning to their school in Stalinstadt, Theo and Kurt spontaneously hold a two minute in solidarity with their Hungarian counterparts. However, their fleeting gesture is condemned as a counterrevolutionary act by The People’s Education Minister, who threatens to expel the entire class unless a ringleader is named. It would be very easy for The Silent Revolution to slip into “boring” territory; most of the film is set in a class room. However, the film is punctuated by powerful nuggets of new information, and the action is propelled further while the stakes are raised even higher. The risk with adolescent cast members is that they will “over-act” and discredit the film’s historical significance. However, the entire ensemble were affecting to say the least; they fully embodied the restlessness the real students would have felt during a time of political upheaval and societal repression.

This film was both engaging and informative, and it was a worthwhile way to kick off this year’s German Film Festival.

Readers also enjoyed this review of Tea With Dames.