This year’s German Film Festival officially launched with the crazy satire, A STASI COMEDY, a story of secrets, surveillance, and sex.

Fuelled by a soundtrack that includes Canned Heat and Leonard Cohen, A STASI COMEDY unravels like a trippy German Get Smart complete with bumbling agents, potty protocols, and a cheesy chief.

It’s controlled chaos or chaotic control, either or is applicable, in a spy vs spy spoof where the most sinister character is the Minister for State Security who throws parties where guests dress as aristocracy and would have your head for jaywalking. Presented in the film as absurd, in reality it is a tragedy, an illustration of how absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Director Leander Haussmann shows all were part of the same hypocrisy in communist East Berlin in the 1980s, when twenty something Ludger is hired by the Stasi to infiltrate the counterculture scene in East Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, home to artists, bohemians and free-thinking radicals.

After falling in love with the mysterious Nathalie and sleeping with his first target, Corninna, Ludger ends up living two lives, one as an underground poet and one as a Stasi agent. Duplicity doubles and secrets snowball in this screwball Cold War comedy.

A STASI COMEDY is one of the many gems making their Australian premiere at the German Film Festival, but also of note is the exceptional retrospective and various sidebars in the event.

To celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Goethe-Institut in Australia, a specially curated selection of outstanding German cinema from the last five decades will delight film lovers and includes:

The 1979 Academy-Award winning THE TIN DRUM (Die Blechtrommel) remains as strikingly original and continuously surprising as when it was first made. In Volker Schlöndorff’s adaptation of the eponymous Günter Grass novel, a three-year-old is determined to boycott the adult world and remain a child forever.

The 1980 film
SOLO SUNNY follows an aspiring singer on tour and in the underground music scene in East Berlin, capturing the East Germany of the 1970s and longings and frustrations of East German youth through its gritty-glitzy visuals and catchy soundtrack.

The 1998 smash hit RUN LOLA RUN (Lola rennt) is directed by Tom Tykwer and stars Franka Potente as the flame-haired Lola. After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

From 2003 comes the highly awarded audience favourite
GOOD BYE, LENIN! In his breakout role, Daniel Brühl stars as a young man who must protect his fragile mother, recently awoken from a coma, from learning that her beloved East Germany is no more after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

2015’s VICTORIA is a technical masterpiece which scooped the pool at the German Film Awards that yearA breathtaking cinematic adventure, shot in one continuous take, it follows a young Spanish woman who finds her flirtation with a local Berlin man turn potentially deadly on a night out with his friends.

Austria and Switzerland’s new cinema is profiled in the ‘Beyond Berlin’ sidebar. New Austrian Cinema, co-presented by the Austrian Embassy, features the Olympic biopic CHASING THE LINE (Klammer) which follows legendary Austrian downhill skiing legend Franz Klammer over several days during the 1976 Winter Olympics. RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS (Risiken und Nebenwirkungen) is a dark comedy from Austria starring Inka Friedrich and Samuel Finzi which follows a woman’s kidney transplant journey that threatens to break-up her friendships and marriage.

New Swiss cinema highlights include CAGED BIRDS (Bis wir tot sind oder frei), starring Marie Leuenberger and Jella Hasse. Based on a true story, this intriguing 1980’s drama delves into the unlikely alliance between a young lawyer fighting Switzerland’s antiquated prison system and a criminal. MONTE VERIT (Monte Verità – Der rausch der freiheit), is a gorgeous historical drama set in the early 20th century that centres on a young mother and a group of society dropouts who search for a free-thinking paradise at Monte Verità.

Based on the bestselling book, the wickedly funny comedy IT’S JUST A PHASE, HONEY (Es ist nur eine Phase, Hase) follows a couple approaching their 50s who set out to regain their long-lost youth. The crime-comedy THE BLACK SQUARE(Das Schwarze Quadrat) stars Bernhard Schütz and Sandra Hüller; two art thieves who have stolen a famous painting plan to meet their clients on a cruise ship and all does not go as planned. In the clever comedy CONTRA a law student prepares for a debating competition with the help of a cynical professor who has been given a final chance to redeem himself after a video of him insulting a student goes viral.

The Goethe-Institut is also pleased to present the popular sidebar “Kino for Kids”, films especially curated for children, teens and families. This year’s programme includes:

MISSION ULJA FUNK –12-year-old astronomy geek Ulja, armed with a stolen hearse and a classmate as driver, journeys across Eastern Europe to monitor the impact of an asteroid.
A SECRET BOOK OF FRIENDSHIPTHE GREATEST ADVENTURE OF THEIR LIFE (Nachtwald) –Two boys set out on a search for a legendary cave in the Black Forest during their summer holidays in this tender story.
SCHOOL OF MAGICAL ANIMALS (Die Schule der magischen Tiere) – A live-action family film that centres on the new girl at an unusual school, where the children receive a magical animal as a companion.
TALES OF FRANZ (Die Geschichten vom Franz) – Family comedy based on Christine Nöstlinger’s bestselling book series about a primary school student, the smallest in his class, who seeks the advice of an influencer much to the scepticism of his best friends.
THE WALL BETWEEN US (Zwischen uns die Mauer) – When Anna from West Germany and GDR citizen Philipp meet in East Berlin in the mid-1980s, it is love at first sight, but the love-struck teenagers are separated by the heavily guarded border.

Tickets are now on sale visit

Sydney:24 May – 19 June, Palace Norton St, Chauvel Cinema, Palace Central