Get reel: German Film Forum

Yvonne Teh, film editor

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, 10:58pm

Most culture vultures in our fair city have heard of Le French May but I wonder how many people, even film fans, know about the German Film Forum?

This is despite the fact the Goethe-Institut Hong Kong's film programme has been running for close to two decades. I wonder how much of this is due to a lack of publicity and how much is due to a general disinterest in German cinema - despite it having produced many worthy films over the years.

In addition, the forum is not restricted to films that have only German dialogue or are solely German productions. And so it is with Hannes Lang's Peak, the first offering in its new Documentary, Life As It Is series, which runs from April 26 to September 27.

A German-Italian co-production, the film shows how the Alps have been affected by climate change.

The winner of the Goethe-Institut's Documentary Film Prize at the 2011 Dok Leipzig international film festival for documentary and animated films, Peak opens with an idyllic scene in which magnificent snow-capped mountains form the backdrop for a folk music performance by a duo dressed in traditional costume.

But once people start looking directly into the camera and talking, the message is one of trouble in paradise. First, a German-speaking worker at the Solden ski resort shares that the resort has needed to use snowmaking facilities since 1984, with upwards of 350 snow machines running for 24 hours to produce enough snow. Next, Italian-speaking men and women talk about the increasingly hard life in the valleys.

Then, in dialogue-free sections, the camera shows the breathtaking beauty of the Alps. The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words seems so very true."