In Two Minutes: Maren Ade, Film Companion
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Name: Maren Ade

Place of birth: Karlsruhe, Germany

Films include: Toni Erdmann, Everyone Else, The Forest for the Trees, Vegas (short), Ebene 9 (short). 

Accolades: Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for Toni Erdmann in 2017; won Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenwriter for Toni Erdmann at the European Film Awards, 2016; won the Silver Bear (Jury Grand Prix) for Everyone Else at the Berlinale in 2009, among others.

Contemporaries: Ulrich KÕÐë_hler, Henner Winckler, Benjamin Heisenberg, Maria Speth, Valeska Grisebach, Christoph HochhÕÐ_ÑÒusler and other filmmakers belonging to the second generation of the “Berlin School”. 

The term was originally used to describe a kind of rekindling of German cinema in the 1990s by three graduates of the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin: Angela Schanelec, Thomas Arslan and Christian Petzold.   

Maren Ade’s films are about the nuanced and complex nature of interpersonal relationships. There is a huge focus on character in Ade’s work with often a single character or a pair of leads carrying the weight of the entire film

Her films are about…: The nuanced and complex nature of interpersonal relationships. There is a huge focus on character in Ade’s work with often a single character or a pair of leads carrying the weight of the entire film. Moreover, these are characters that do not fit into conventional social moulds – loners, even outsiders who are marked as “different” and whose social inadequacies cause immense embarrassment to those around them. Ade’s commitment to a sense of reality inspires moments of incredible honesty. Her charm lies in the subtle, in capturing the unsaid, the unnoticed. 

Style: These are slow-paced films allowing characters enough space and time to evolve. Long takes abound, often to heighten both the character’s and the audience’s sense of unease. Swift camera work and extreme close-ups are frequently used to register fleeting responses.  

Genre: Dramas. Toni Erdmann, Ade’s latest, is a comedy-drama where awkward situations producing humour interspersed with delicate moments of sadness.

 

Why you should know her: Breaking away from the obsession with Germany’s contentious past and issues of national identity and guilt, films of the Berlin School are notable for largely focusing on present concerns as well as on the relatable, universal aspects of everyday life. This “counter cinema” is refreshing in its attempt to give German film a new identity, free from the burdens of history. Ade’s films have touched upon issues like Europe’s economic crisis, women’s social and professional struggles, themes of isolation, estrangement, etc.       

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The first film you should see: The slow and languorous Everyone Else. The undulations of longing and despair, sharing and withholding, impulsiveness and inhibition that the lovers make their way through are fertile ground for a brilliant study of character and shifting dynamics. Bernhard Keller’s cinematography adds to the mellow, languid mood of the film. As do the Mediterranean sun and the couple’s Sardinian villa.           

Fun fact: Maren Ade is the only woman director to have won at the European Film Awards.

Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig are expected to play the estranged father and daughter duo in the Hollywood remake of Toni Erdmann

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