Bernd Desinger was born in 1962 in Oberhausen, Germany. He studied German language and literature, History, Psychology and Film. Bernd Desinger joined the Goethe-Institut in 1990. After postings in Germany and Athens, Greece, he became deputy director of the Goethe-Institut Toronto. In 2000 he was transferred to Germany, where he became director of the Bonn branch of the central office, serving in a parallel capacity as head of the Department of Audiovisual Media. In this position he was responsible for the acquisition and co-production of documentary films. In addition, he produced an internationally distributed program series on German art and culture.
In 2005 he took over his current position as director of the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles.
Last fall he founded “German Currents”, in partnership with the American Cinematheque this festival is showcasing new films from Germany at the AERO Theater in Santa Monica.
Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us a bit about German Currents.
Bernd Desinger: German Currents is a film festival we established last year together with the American Cinemathèque. Since its first year was so successful, we decided to carry on with it. This year we are coming back with more films, talent, and great partners in Germany and in Los Angeles. The theme this year is “Focus Film Bavaria”. The Bavarian film industry has a tremendous impact on the overall German film production. Quite a number of films are either produced in Bavaria or have some sort of connection to Germany’s largest state.
BT: What kinds of films should we expect to see during the festival?
BD: We present a selection of twelve movies, and among those a number of outstanding highlights and US premiers. This is true for the opening film, which is “A Year Ago in Winter” by Oscar winner Caroline Link, her latest production. And we also have another highlight, a hot commodity: “Der Baader – Meinhof Komplex” – currently intensely discussed in Europe. This film on the terrorist group that wrecked Germany in the 70’s and 80’s is directed by Uli Edel – a major production by German producer Bernd Eichinger. Just today it has been declared the German nomination for the Academy Awards!
BT: How exciting, that you can present this film as U.S. premiere at “German Currents”! – I understand that you show to more films that were previously discussed as possible entry.
BD: This is correct. One is “Cherry Blossoms”, the new film by Doris Dörrie, a lighthearted film on the last journey of an ailing man to Japan. And the other is the controversial “The Wave” by Dennis Gansel. In addition, three films that are going to be screened are recent major box office hits in Germany. For instance, a very fun comedy called “Rabbits without Ears”, a film about a young man who has to do community service in a kindergarten, who meets the kindergartener, and they fall in love. It is a hilarious story, and I think we will see a US adaptation of that film. We also show the animated feature “Lissy” and present the second part of the children’s movie “Wild Chicks”. So we have a mixture of complex films reflecting discursive developments in Germany and elsewhere, and at the same time some very fast and funny comedies. All in all, the audience will see an exciting program.
BT: Who should we expect to see at the festival? Will there be filmmakers and actors coming to Los Angeles?
BD: We will have Doris Dörrie, who is popular in the US, and her new film has already received many awards in Germany. Director Dennis Gansel will be present. We will have the director of Wild Chicks in Love, Vivian Naefe. We will also have Uschi Reich (A Year Ago in Winter, Wild Chicks in Love) with us, who is one of the major producers in Germany. She produced “A Year Ago in Winter” and “White Chicks in Love”.
BT: Where will the films be screened, and how can people get tickets?
BD: As with last year, the films will be screened at the Aero theater, and tickets will be available through the American Cinemateque’s website and on fandango.com. The opening night is Wednesday, September 24th, and the festival will run through September 29th. On the 28th we will have, at 11 a.m., a film brunch at the Goethe-Institut. We are also opening an exhibition on Bavarian film. This is a first for the US, and it is an important festival.
BT: Where will the exhibition be held?
BD: The exhibition will be held at the Goethe-Institut.
BT: How can people see the exhibition? Is it for free?
BD: It is free of charge, and open during our office hours, Monday through Thursday from 9 to 5, and on Friday from 9 to 3. It will run until December.
BT: Will the filmmakers be attending the brunch?
BD: Yes, most of the filmmakers, directors and producers will be there. From the delegation from Bavaria there will be twenty people. We expect a great party. And also, on display you will also see the newest camera by famous film equipment maker ARRI, who will give a presentation the following day.
BT: Do you expect a large audience to see the films this year?
BD: Absolutely. Already people are already asking what is going to happen. They have heard about the many interesting films that will be here. Everyone is really excited about what is going to happen, and so are we.