The annual Berlin & Beyond Festival of new German-language films offers 21 programs over seven days at the Castro. Highlights include in-person appearances by the directors of many of these movies, plus a restored print of G.W. Pabst's silent classic Diary of a Lost Girl
(1928), with the unflappable flapper Louise Brooks (screening Monday, Jan. 14). Among other things this saga of a poor young woman is a parable of the power of Big Money in the late Weimar Republic. Nathalie Steinbart's The Middle of Nowhere
tells a similar tale about the new united Germany, with a small-time crook masquerading in the role of a nouveau riche swindler. Unfortunately for him, he's landed in a small East German village that has been freshly swindled by the very man whose identity he's swiped. Steinbart's very entertaining film, winner of the IXOS Award for Best First Feature Film, screens on Saturday, Jan. 12, with Steinbart in person.
The crooks of The Middle of Nowhere are planning a getaway to Australia, and so are the fugitive lovers of Thorsten Wettcke's A Goddamn Job, a funny comedy involving the creator of the universe and the incompetent assistant she's left in charge of Earth for the past 1,000 years. His proudest accomplishment is the Cheech and Chong movie Nice Dreams, but the Goddess is unimpressed. Wettcke's film screens on Sunday, Jan. 13. On a more serious note, Andres Veiel's documentary re-creation of the parallel deaths of a businessman and a suspected terrorist, Black Box Germany, is a painstaking portrait of a society riven by politics and violence, and is tragically relevant to the U.S. today. It screens on Saturday, Jan. 12, with Veiel in person. For more information and show times, call 262-8760 or visit www.goethe.de/uk/saf.