FINSTERWORLD- From Script to Screen
A Conversation with Frauke Finsterwalder and Christian Kracht
Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
Deutsches Haus at NYU (at Maison Française, 16 Washington Mews)
A police officer in a bear costume. A female documentary filmmaker who is unable to find an interesting story. A pedicurist who carefully sets aside the hard skin removed from the feet of his aged female patient. A rich couple that refuses to sit in a German-built car. A history student uninterested in a class visit to a concentration camp. A wild man training a raven in the woods. In this anthology film, all are bound by family ties or a moment of coincidence in a country where the sun always shines and everybody is beautiful, polite, successful or happy. That is until they reveal their darker side, and we discover that the step from idyll to inferno is a short one. FINSTERWORLD is an ironic antithesis of the Heimatfilm and full of malicious observations and sharp-tongued remarks. Not even the name of its director Frauke Finsterwalder remains unscathed. Rarely has German cinema produced so much black humor in one fell swoop.
Frauke Finsterwalder was born in Hamburg in 1975 and received part of her schooling in the USA. Later, while studying literature and history at Humboldt University, Berlin, she worked as assistant director at Berlin‘s Maxim-Gorki-Theater and at the Volksbühne. From 2001, Frauke Finsterwalder worked as journalist for a renowned newspaper in Munich, where she began to study documentary filmmaking at the University of Television and Film in 2003. She directed several short films, commercials as well as two long documentaries. From 2008 to 2010 she moved to Buenos Aires. In the summer of 2010 she received a 3-month scholarship by the Goethe Institute in Seoul. Then she moved to Lamu, Kenya. During her stays abroad she wrote large parts of the screenplay for the film FINSTERWORLD which is her first feature film.
Christian Kracht was born in Saanen/Switzerland in 1966. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, New York, in 1989. In the 1990s Kracht worked as a journalist for a number of magazines and newspapers in Germany, including Der Spiegel. In November 2006 he was a regular columnist for the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Kracht has regularly collaborated with other authors and artists. Between September 2004 and June 2006 he published the independent literary magazine Der Freund in collaboration with Eckhart Nickel.
In his novels, the protagonists of Kracht’s fiction embark on journeys that take them in search of an elusive moment of immersive, utopian experience or spiritual enlightenment often located in a different nation or culture. Their journey usually, but not always, results in disappointment, failure or even death. The theme of travel was introduced in Kracht’s debut novel Faserland (1995), a text that is often central in the discussion of German pop literature by literary critics and scholars. Kracht’s 2012 novel Imperium (A Small Empire) follows on from Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein und im Schatten both in its very favorable reception by critics and in the way that it presents a re-imagining of history that incorporates actual persons and historical reality while playing fast and loose with dates and details. Imperium created a stir in Germany even before its publication. Reviews of Imperium in the German-language press have expressed praise for the novel’s use of language and have drawn favorable comparisons to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in terms of both theme and style. Imperium will be the first of Kracht’s novels, which have been translated into over 25 different languages, to also appear in English.
Most recently, Kracht completed work on the screenplay for the film FINSTERWORLD. The film, which is directed by the author’s wife Frauke Finsterwalder, was released in cinemas in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in 2013 and 2014.
Eric Jarosinski teaches German literature and culture at the University of Pennsylvania. He will soon be leaving academia, however, to devote himself full-time to his post as editor of Nein.Quarterly, a highly respected and non-existent journal of utopian negation found on Twitter and in the German weekly "Die Zeit". He is currently writing occasional articles for a number of German publications and completing his first book — Nein. A Manifesto — to be published next year by Fischer in Germany and Lebowski Books in the Netherlands.
FINSTERWORLD will have its East Coast premiere at the Quad Cinema and will be shown during the film series KINO! Festival of German Film on June 16 at 9:30 pm, on June 17 at 4pm, and 9:30pm. It is distributed by Global Screen GmbH.
Watch the trailer here.
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FINSTERWORLD From Script to Screen is a DAAD-sponsored event.