From Left: Leander Haußmann (Director, Hotel Lux) with Wolfgang Muench (Dean, Faculty of Media Arts)

“Anfangen ist leicht, beharren eine Kunst.”

So goes the German saying – to begin is easy, to persist is art. Yet, in the field of film, even beginning can be a persistent struggle. Over the course of two Fridays, The Puttnam School of Film had the pleasure of meeting two fine gentlemen who courted success amidst such struggles.

They are Leander Haußmann and Jan Ole Gerster, also festival guests at the 16th German Film Festival. Organized by Goethe-Institut, the established festival brings acclaimed films of Germany for Singaporean cinemagoers, including those in the heartlands. With the kind support and generosity of Andreas Schiekofer (Director, Goethe-Institut Singapore), LASALLE College of the Arts had the unique opportunity to showcase two films from the programme.

Leander Haußmann – a persistent artist with previous vocations in painting and theatre, began his work in film from the 90s, with his best known work including Sonnenallee (1999) and Herr Lehmann (2003). Following a screening of his Hotel Lux, students had a chance to interact with the charismatic Haußmann, who candidly discussed his craft with seasoned advice on screenwriting and directing actors. As part of the seminar, he proudly showcased “the Lubitsch touch” in To Be Or Not To Be (1942) by the revered German filmmaker, Ernst Lubitsch. On screenwriting, Haußmann proclaimed that the first twenty minutes of the motion picture is the biggest challenge.

If that was anything to go by for Jan Ole Gerster, it would have been a challenge smoothly overcome. Among other plaudits, the Munich Film Festival recently awarded him Best Script for his debut feature – Oh Boy. Having graduated only weeks earlier from the German Film and Television Academy Berlin, the witty filmmaker shared his wonder at being afforded the unanticipated opportunity of canvassing his work in Singapore. Playfully asking if he could sign up at LASALLE (after having seen the campus), Gerster handled a variety of questions on his fledgling artistic journey with equal parts ease and insight.

The eleven-day festival closes today. Four films, including Hotel Lux, will be screened across The Cathay Cineplex and Cathay AMK Hub.