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LETTER FROM BERLIN

Berlin Film Festival

IT’S FASCINATING, TN A WAY, to witness the ambivalent triumphalism with which the metropolis of Berlin is merging its disparate halves into a millennial new German capital. As sleepy East Berlin neighborhoods are re-created as international art centers, and the muddy emptiness of Potsdamer Platz churned up into the world’s largest construction site, so too the white spaces of German history are filled in—not least by German films.

Thus, at the last Berlin Film Festival, Wim Wenders’ Die Gebrüder Skladanowsky (The brothers Skladanowsky) established a Berlin pedigree for the invention of the motion picture apparatus while Ulrike Ottinger’s Exil Shanghai was an epic documentary on the German Jews who fled the Nazis for the Far East. Not too much remained of the old New German Cinema. Die Mutter des Killers (The killer’s mother)—a first feature by Volker Einrauch—has a raw, somewhat passé

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