Berlin’s best at Castro film fest

The San Francisco Goethe Institute’s 13th festival of German-language films will take place at the Castro Theatre Jan. 10-16.

In the program for “Berlin & Beyond,” announced at a press conference Wednesday, are 39 independent feature films and documentaries from Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

In addition to new films making their first appearance at European festivals, the Castro screenings also offer repeat showings of some recent award-winners — including the Oscar-winning “The Lives of Others” — featuring Ulrich Mühe, who died of cancer in July, at age 54. Mühe also will be the subject of a tribute event.

“Berlin & Beyond” opens Jan. 10 with Germany’s Academy Award entry for this year, Turkish director Fatih Akin’s “The Edge of Heaven,” already a best-screenplay winner at the 2007 Cannes festival.

The closing film is Bavarian filmmaker Marcus Rosenmuller’s directorial debut, “Grave Decisions,” about an 11-year-old’s quest to become a rock star and find a new wife for his widowed father.

Another fesitval highlight will be “The Oddball,” a silent film screening Jan. 15 with live musical accompaniment by organist Dennis James. Walter Jerven’s film, which arrived at the end of the silent era, features the comedy team of Karl Valentin and Liesl Karstedt.

Tickets for individual screenings are $10 general and more for special presentations.

For a detailed festival program, visit www.berlinandbeyond.com.

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