Cinema (2018 | Issue 4)

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Contemporary German film-makers have put Germany on the international movie map with their unique and eclectic offerings. What’s Up, Germany? has hand-picked ten German movies from 1998 onwards that you simply can’t afford to miss! Some are Oscar-nominated, but all make for a compelling watch. Ready for some binge-watching?!

1 Run Lola Run

Lola Rennt, 1998

A breathless thriller, this film revolves around Lola, who needs to deliver 100,000 Deutsche Marks in 20 minutes or else her boyfriend will be dead! And so she starts running. Director Tom Tykwer tells the story in three different ways, with the smallest of changes affecting the outcome dramatically. Put on your running shoes and run with Lola through the streets of Berlin!

2 Nowhere in Africa

Nirgendwo in Afrika, 2002

This Oscar-winner by Caroline Link is about a family of Jewish refugees who migrate to a small farm in Kenya before World War Two. It is an adaptation of Stefanie Zweig’s autobiographical novel and is sure to move you.

3 Good Bye, Lenin!


A tragicomedy by Wolfgang Becker, Good Bye, Lenin! enjoys cult status. It revolves around Alex, an East Berliner who tries his best to hide the fact that the Berlin Wall has fallen from his socialist and ailing mother, since she may not be able to withstand the shock. In this funny yet emotional movie, Alex recreates East Germany within the four walls of their apartment!

4 Head-On

Gegen die Wand, 2004

Fatih Akin’s breakout film tells the tale of a love affair that is too complicated to have a happy ending. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Born in Germany to Turkish parents, Akin usually focusses on ethnic identity and cultural stereotypes.

5 The Downfall

Der Untergang, 2004

This movie by Oliver Hirschbiegel was so well-received in Germany and across the world, it’s no surprise that it was nominated for an Oscar. Actor Bruno Ganz delivers a powerhouse performance as Hitler during his final days in the bunker.

6 The Lives of Others

Das Leben Der Anderen, 2006

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s debut feature film won the Oscar for best foreign language film. This gripping political thriller takes place in East Berlin in the 1980s. An agent of the secret police is assigned to spy on a playwright, but he becomes increasingly uneasy with this task. The director’s second film, Never Look Away, will be Germany’s entry for the Oscars in 2019.

7 The White Ribbon

Das Weisse Band, 2009

Beautifully shot in black and white, this film by Michael Haneke won the Palme d’Or and the Golden Globe in 2010. Set in a small village in Germany before World War One, it uncovers an uncomfortable reality: the seemingly simple villagers hide dark secrets and moral decay.

8 Barbara


This movie won Christian Petzold the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin International Film Festival. It also represented Germany at the Oscars in 2012. Starring Nina Hoss and Ronald Zehrfeld, it hauntingly portrays a woman who is torn between her desires and the need to survive.

9 Victoria


This crime thriller by Sebastian Schipper is one of the few feature films shot in a single continuous take! It won six prizes at the German Film Awards in 2015. Its cinematographer received the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Don’t miss this one-take wonder!

10 Toni Erdmann


Director Maren Ade’s comedy has been a favourite of audiences and critics alike ever since it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. This quirky and original film about a father and daughter has won many awards. Though it makes you laugh, it also examines the meaning of life.