Thursday, February 19, 2009

Germany at the Oscars. . .

Gearing up for the big awards ceremony this Sunday, I have to say that even though I'm not too excited by most of the nominations, I will nevertheless be glued to the TV and will be watching two awards in particular - rooting for Slumdog Millionaire to take Best Picture and for Kate Winslet to finally win an Oscar for her performance in The Reader.

This latter film is of course based on Bernhard Schlink's bestselling novel. I was recently lucky enough to interview him for our website and you can watch a brief video clip of him talking specifically about The Reader and his post-war German generation. You have to sign up to be a member with your e-mail, but it's absolutely free and you'll get access to book information and the opportunity to win books and enter various contests. Once you've signed up, click on the "Audio and Video" tab at the top and you can watch a number of other author videos as well. Due to time constraints, only about 5 minutes of my interview is on the clip but we also chatted about his latest novel Homecoming (which I highly recommend if you enjoyed The Reader and are interested in the same themes of the next generation of Germans coming to grips with their Nazi past) and his Gerhard Self detective novels (Self's Punishment and Self's Deception). I hope to find the time shortly to transcribe the rest of the interview and then I'll post it on this blog.

If you are interested in post-war German history, then also up for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category is Germany's The Baader Meinhof Complex about a group of students in the late 1960s who started out peacefully protesting the Vietnam War but ended up becoming bombers, arsonists and murderers under the name the Red Army Faction. The leaders were eventually arrested and convicted but the violence continued as supporters kidnapped the president of the German Employers' Association and later hijacked a Lufthansa jet. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Stefan Aust, who has done the definitive book on the subject and it looks to be a fascinating read; I had never previously heard anything about this group. I'm really looking forward to seeing the movie as well.

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