October 9, 2013

Stereotypes and surprising products made in Germany

Most people have "Vorurteile" = preconceptions about many things, including foreign countries. A "Vorurteil" is an opinion formed before enough information is available to form it correctly, and as a consequence, it tends to be based on stereotypes and clichés.


What do you think are the most common German stereotypes? 


In my opinion: beer, cars and sausages. Or at least, these are the ones I had when I first visited Germany ten years ago. 

However, Germany is much more than its clichés. And this exactly what this blog entry is about: surprising products made in Germany. We use these products, we buy these products, we know the brands... but where are they from? they are German made and we don't know. 

But before I get into that, let's also review the classic trilogy of beer-car-sausage "Vorurteil" and some surprising facts around them. In the end, they are the top three most popular products made in Germany, aren't they?

1) DAS BIER


Germany is the fifth largest producer of beer in the world (95 million hectoliters in 2012) after China, USA, Brazil and Russia. It's also the third world largest consumer (over 110 liters per capita) after the Czech Republic and Ireland.

Besides Germany is home of the most popular beer Festival: the Oktoberfest. Other countries have tried to copy it: the Oktoberfest in Las Vegas; in Norway or in Syracuse, however none has achieved the same success as the authentic one in Munich, which in 2013 registered 6,4 million visitors and 6,7 million Maß=liters of beer (article: more liters of beer than people (in German)).

With this curriculum, nobody can deny that Germany is a beer country.



Screen shot from the official site of the Oktoberfest 2013

2) DAS AUTO


My former German teacher used to joke about his car passion. He joked that he spent more time cleaning his car than bathing his own kids!  I'm sure his stories weren't true but he had a point: cars are a big deal here. Above all if they are German made. 
German carmakers enjoy a very good reputation worldwide: BMW and Mercedes-Benz are the 11th and 12th most valuable brands. But they are also popular at home as the car thefts statistics show: 18 000 cars were stolen in 2012 in Germany and the thieves' favorites were German made: BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. (More info in German)

3) DIE WURST


Weißwurst, Bratwurst, Jagdwurst, Mettwurst,Blutwurst, Leberwurst...You name it. I'm really not a meat person, which doesn't mean that I don't eat meat, which I do, it just means that I'm not as carnivore as the Germans are. 

The meat consumption in Germany is astonishing and probably the reason that led to the stereotype: in average a standard household in Germany eats 36 kilos of meat (292€) per year and almost 50% are sausages.

Aside from the quantity and the variety, die Wurst is important here. All over the country there are museums, clubs, competitions and traditions around it. Do you want some crazy examples?
And after the "usual suspects" as common stereotypes, let's get started with:



What are the most surprising products made in Germany?


1) PAPER SIZE


Envelops, office paper, printers, notebooks, filling cabinets... they are all made in Germany (at least their size has been established in Germany).


The DIN is the acronym for "Deutsches Institut für Normung", which is the German national institution for standardization (=ISO). The DIN created the DIN standard that specifies the paper size (DIN A3, DIN A4, DIN A5, etc.) that is used all over the world, with the exception of US and Canada. 

Screen shot from DIN 

2) FANTA


Yes, my friends, the second largest brand of the Coca Cola Group originated in Germany in the early 40's. And this is not a rumor, the official site tells the story:

During the World War II: Germany suffered from shortage of resources, including the ingredients used in the Coca Cola formula. The German factory however made the most of those difficult times and managed to create a new soft drink, made of the available ingredients during war. Once the drink was formulated, the factory organized a contest and invited the employees to look for a name for the new drink. And they found one: the new drink was "fantastisch" and "fantasievoll" (adjectives in German that mean fantastic and imaginative) and so the new drink was called Fanta.

3) NIVEA


Many of us grew up with this round blue tin of creme. It's a classic of the skin care. However very few of us knew that it's a German brand. Beiersdorf is Nivea's parent company, which was funded in the 19th century in a chemistry shop in Hamburg. 
These days they still have their HQs in Hamburg.




4) THE ASPIRIN


In 1887 Felix Hoffmann was working for Bayer as he was researching for a pain reliever that could free his father from his arthritis pain. His work focused in the use of the acetylsalicylic acid as a pain reliever. He succeeded. In 1899 Bayern applied for a patent at the Berlin office to register Aspirin as a trademark.



5) PUMA and ADIDAS


Here's a very surprising fact: both Adidas and Puma are German and both were founded by two brothers in a small Bavarian town called Herzogenaurach. 

Apparently both brothers: Rudolf and Adolf "Adi" Dassler started to produce sport shoes in their mother's laundry after returning from World War I. The brothers reached a breakthrough when a US athlete won four gold medals in the 1936's Olympics wearing the brother's shoes. However what happened afterwards is not clear, aside from the fact that both brothers went separate ways, and so Puma and Adidas were born.




6) THE PREGNANCY TEST


In 1928 two German gynecologists:  Selmar Aschheim and Bernhard Zondek created the first reliable pregnancy test in the history.


7) HARIBO and MERCI

Do you know HARIBO and its gummy and jelly bears? Of course you do! His founder Hans Riegel created the company in 1920 in Bonn, the former German capital. 




MERCI are one of my favorite chocolates in the world, and although they have a French name, they are German made. Merci belongs to Storcka German company founded in 1903 that may be familiar to you because they also own the brand Werther's Original.




8) MP3


The mp3 started as a project led by a professor and a group of students at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. 

The Fraunhofer is Europe's largest application-oriented research organization. Its HQ are in Munich and the Institute takes its name from Joseph von Fraunhofer, a successful Munich researcher, inventor and entrepreneur of the 18th-century.

You listen to most music tracks today thanks to the team effort of the FraunhoferIIS group back in 1991 that developed the first mp3. 


9) Other examples of surprising brands made in Germany:

  • your pencils during elementary school: they were likely made in Bavaria: Faber-Castell
  • your office suit, probably the most expensive one you own is Hugo Boss and is German!
  • your super cute dress from Escada... is also German! and more, it's Bavarian, Escada's HQ are in Munich



Unfortunately I ran out of time and space for this month. I'm sure you are thinking of at least two other surprising brands or products made in Germany that are not in my list... am I right? Let me know which ones you're thinking.

Related entries:

Sales in Munich
Sweets and chocolates from Germany
Germany knows good food

September 10, 2013

8 things I wish I knew before moving to Munich

I moved to Munich two years ago and although I knew Germany (and Germans), to make Munich my new home was not easy. After the painful and stressful process of finding a place to live, a few more surprises came along. Some were good, some not so much.

Click to read about Munich is expensive but safe

Looking back I believe that I would have managed much better at the beginning,  if I had had the experience and information that I now have. So if you are planning to move to Munich or you have just arrived, I believe that my "8 things I wish I knew before moving to Munich" will be very helpful for you.


1) They don't speak English 

You are moving to Germany, where the official language is German, which means that they speak German. The young generations can usually speak English but the older ones don't.

Some Germans have never learnt a word of English, so when you pop in a local Bäkerei or you want to buy cranberries at a street stall or at the market stand, they don't understand you if you speak English.
The German school system is very flexible and offers a high-quality education. (Click here to read about the School system in Bavaria in English). Usually one foreign language is taught since the age of 10. Although these days more and more schools are introducing some lessons in the Grundschule (as of the age of six).

Screen shot: School system in Bavaria. Source: Bayerisches Staatsministerium

In today's schools the most popular foreign language is English. Germans in their late 20s - early 30's have had 8 to 9 years of compulsory English lessons during their school time and so they usually speak English. However older generations studied French instead, which was the primary foreign language back then and as a consequence, they usually won't speak English, or if they do, it will be very basic.

In June 2013 the German newspaper Die Zeit published an article: "Germans speak bad English" (source: Wall Street English school). According to it: only 2.1% of the employees in Germany are business fluent and 65.5% have little knowledge.

2) Everything is closed on Sunday

Sunday is "Ruhe Tag" in Germany, which means that everything is closed. There are however four exceptions to this rule: 1) the churches, 2) the ice parlors, 3) the gas stations and 4) the "Biergarten".

Also a few cafes open on Sunday mostly the ones located in the tourist areas of Munich and a few (very few) bakeries also open and close when they are sold out. 

As a consequence, plan your grocery shopping well, so you are fully stocked when Sunday comes. Otherwise you are left with no options outside the following two stores that open on Sunday and should only be used in emergency cases due to the exorbitant prices and the very limited range: the Minimark in Hauptbahnhof and one Edeka at the airport. (To read more: "the Grocery List 1/2")

3) Recycling is a sport

And you better learn the rules soon otherwise it will cost you money (Germany has a Pfand system to "motivate" citizens to recycle) or you will get reprimanded by one of your lovely neighbors.


4) If you don't have a bike, you don't exist in Munich

There are many European cities where the bike is a popular means of transport. In Munich this has been taken to the extreme: Munich is the "Radlhauptstadt" = capital city for the "Radl", which is the Bavarian equivalent of "Rad" (short for "Fahrrad") so a bike.


My bike: Lola
There are 1200km of bike lane in Munich and parking facilities overall. Besides the taxis and metro (U- and S- Bahn) are extremely expensive. People bike to work; mums bike their kids to the Kindergarten in front and back child bike seats; fathers tow child bicycle trailers across the city etc.,

If you drive a car you'd better grow a third eye on your back and learn the new driving rule, which basically summarizes in: in Munich cyclists ride like they own the city.

I did not buy "lola" (my bike) until a year after moving to Munich and during that initial time I disliked many of those on a bicycle, simply because they don't even respect the sidewalks! 

On my second year here and with "lola", I am now one of them, because at some point I realized that I had no choice: "if you can't beat them, join them".

To read more about bikes in Munich.


5) Get ready to be given a reprimand 

I recently read on a blog/forum about one expat's impression talking about living in Germany. One of the things she said was that every German has a police officer inside him/herAnd I agree. 

In Munich strangers have given me more than one reprimand over the past two years. In some cases with a reason, in some others just for the pleasure of reprimanding someone. For example:

  • on the street, when I happened to accidentally wait for the traffic lights on the bike lane;
  • in the supermarket, when I forgot to use plastic gloves when selecting the fruits and vegetables and
  • at a cash register, when it was taking me more than a minute to pay, because I could not find my purse.
There are also situations when strangers have given me a nasty look. For example: 
  • in some cafes or on the train when I spoke louder than a regular German or my mobile rang longer than 10 seconds and
  • when my friend's baby started crying non-stop and loud in a store.
There is also a worse case scenario, which is when you get both the look and the reprimand, together with a phone call to the police. For example: by parking if you accidentally touch the car behind you. Then all the strangers that see you, will suddenly stop and dedicate their full attention to give you the look and start calling for a traffic officer.


6) German is difficult and it will take you years to be fluent

Many people think that with online courses or weekly lessons, they will speak fluent German in a year. Some are even more optimistic and they expect to reach that level in 6 months. Well my friends, this won't happen. German is a very difficult and complex language and it takes time to learn it.

When I started, I learnt fast and the feeling of achievement was immense. During the A1, A2 and B1 level, I even got the impression that German was going to be" easy" for me. Well, it was not.

When I completed these first basic levels, I then started level B2 and it was then when things got really complicated and my motivation diminished. But since I had no other option, I kept on. For me to jump from the B2 to the C1 level required a superhuman effort. But to move up from C1 to C2 was stressful and painful. 

If you are not familiar with the standard levels when learning a language check the European Framework of Reference for Languages.


Screen shot of Global scale. Source: Council of Europe

Also a recent article of the German magazine PM reporting on the most difficult languages in the world states that:

  • English-speakers need at least 750 class hours to reach an intermediate German level. This means that even if you had 3 hours of German every day, every week during a single whole year, you still wouldn't be intermediate.
  • German needs more hours of study than the Danish, the Swedish and the Norwegian languages.

In my experience the best you can do is to be aware of the difficulty, accept that it won't happen tomorrow and keep going. Determination and persistence are key to master the language.

If you get depressed in the process (and unfortunately you will) I suggest you order a copy of "The awful German language" from Mark Twain


Screen shot of Amazon.de
To read more about this topic: check


7) There is a different between a Bier- and a Wirtsgarten

A Biergarden is an outdoor area attached to a bar or a restaurant, set with approx. eight seat wooden tables and benches without a back that has a self-service area. In a Biergarden you are allowed to consume outside food (for example brought from home or bought in a close street stand). 

A Wirtsgarten, on the contrary, is set with table cloths and waiters or waitresses get the table orders and all you eat and drink should be ordered there.

Wirtsgarten in Munich city center

8) Surviving the Oktoberfest

The Oktoberfest is fun and so good for the books of the city and local businesses … But the truth is that living in Munich, life must go on no matter what: you still need to get up early to go to work; you still need to do the weekly grocery shopping and you still want to enjoy life in this safe, clean and cozy city that is usually ranked as a top place to live because of its quality of life.

Unfortunately during the Oktoberfest your quality of life in Munich will be diminished.


Photo of the Oktoberfest parade of tradition costumes
Above all if you live in the city center or close to the Oktoberfest, mainly because the Wiesn means for you that:  
  • the streets are not as clean and safe as you are used to; 
  • the supermarkets and shops´ shelves are emptier than usual;
  • there are longer queues everywhere, including in the U/S-Bahn stations; 
  • your bike is no longer safe without a lock while you pop in that store;
  • and if you decide to go for a walk in the park on the weekend, you will hardly enjoy some quite time with the kids/family/boyfriend because the green areas (unless it's raining) are full with tourists drinking or sleeping on their hangover. 

I am not an old cranky lady, I am just describing what I see and experience myself in Munich and through my friends´ eyes.  I know some people who make their holidays outside Munich coincide with the Oktoberfest, so they can scape the avalanche of people.

I am not saying that you need to run away like my friends, you can stay and enjoy the festival, but if you do, just remember to be more careful and more patient than usual. After all, during the Oktoberfest Munich receives an influx of over three times its population in tourists.


Are you from Munich or have you been living here for a while? what other things you wish you knew before moving here?

July 15, 2013

Best plan for a Sunday in Munich 2/2

For the second part of the blog entry: "the best plan for a Sunday in Munich", I  bring you:

  • a book about German manners,
  •  bowling in Munich, 
  • a beach bar and
  • paragliding and sailing in Tegernsee.

Sunbathing in Munich by the pool



THE KNIGGE: GERMAN MANNERS and ETIQUETTE


Long time ago when I moved to Munich, my German was basic and so I got my first nasty glare while addressing a German stranger per "du" instead of per "Sie". Then I promised myself that one day I was going to read the "Knigge" in order to surprise every German I encountered by using the very right form of salutation in every situation!

Yesterday was the day, two years later after the promise: I started reading the Knigge. And although it might not seem like it, it is a good plan for a Sunday (above all if you are sunbathing by the swimming pool at the same time!). The reading is entertaining, hilarious and educational, what else could you ask?.



The Knigge in Amazon

Knigge is actually the surname of a XVIII century German writer that joined the Illuminati and wrote a treatise on human relations; which is still today regarded as the guide for politeness and etiquette in Germany. According to the Knigge, the general rule is that you should address everyone by "Sie". The "du" form should only be the exception. 


If you want to know more you can visit the German Knigge Association website or the site Knigge.de.  Some of the articles surprised me and some made me laugh, but eventually I started wondering if instead of being a well-mannered person, I was closer to have the politeness of a cave woman. 


For example, there is a section that fascinates me: table manners and certain meals that are classified as "schwierige Speisen" because there are difficult to eat

  • How to eat artichokes? you should firstly use your fingers, then your front teeth and finally the fork. 
  • The knife can be used to butter the bread rolls but never to cut them. And never use it to help you eat a salad (in difficult cases, use a piece of bread).
  • Do not incline the plate when eating soup. If it is too hot: be patient, do not blow it. Only if it was served in a cup, you are allowed to drink the rest from it (assuming that you have already eaten all the solid ingredients with the spoon).
  • Strawberries that cannot be eaten in one bite should not be served. But should the situation arise, then use the fork or the spoon to cut them in one-bite pieces...
Screen shot of www.knigge.de 
Screen shot of www.deutsche-knigge-gesellschaft.de



LET'S GO BOWLING IN MUNICH


If you google "bowling in Munich", you will get a list of five or six places in the city. We picked Isar Bowling @Martin-Luther Straße, 22, simply because it was convenient for us. 


Many people regard bowling as boring but in my opinion: it is a great team-building activity. It is not difficult to play, it is not expensive and it boosts everyone's self confidence. No matter how bad someone is at sports, at bowling one gets a strike sooner or later, and if it is later, the whole group tends to help and encourage the "slow player" until he/she strikes.

I was surprised to find a lot of teenagers playing but not so many families with children. I would have expected bowling to be more like a Sunday thing to do with the children, rather than a place for teens to go on a date...

If you are interested in the prices, we were a group of seven, we played 3 games, for 2.5 hours and we paid €10 per person.


BEACH BAR IN MUNICH


Munich has no beach, but we have the Strandbar (beach bar) that this year (2013) is located @the Corneliusbrücke. It is branded under the Hacker-Pschorr brewery name, which basically means that a bier will cost you less than a coffee. It is open on Sundays and they refund bottle deposits until 11pm.


Beach bar in Munich
Screen shot of the Kulturstrand


I have been there a number of times, but only once after lunch. We thought that after 3 weeks in a row of heavy rain, we could use some sun. Wrong. Five minutes after taking off our shoes and choosing a beach chair, we wish we hadn't. On that day Munich temperatures reached 35 degrees, so we sat there roasting like chickens with a view to the Isar as a incessant reminder that we were actually NOT IN THE BEACH, so we could not go for a swim to beat the heat.


Since that day I have been to the beach bar only in the evenings, when the sun is set and there are not empty beach chairs because the place is bursting. You then need to stand up but you can still take off your shoes, feel the sand and take a breath of fresh air of the city with a great view of the river at night.


PARAGLIDING OR SAILING IN THE TEGERNSEE


If you live in Munich you do know the beautiful lake of Tegernsee and the city with the same name that is located an hour away from Munich. 

Tourism is the area's largest income not only in summer but in winter as well and therefore the tourism office is very well organized when it comes to inform and attract potential visitors. 

Screen shot of the official site Tegernsee.com 

Two of my dear friends in Munich learnt about paragliding and sailing in Tegernsee while researching about plans for the summertime on the weekends. 

The paragliding academy is called "Gleitschirmschule Tegernsee". My friend did what is called: a "Tandemflug" (=tandem flight), in which an experienced pilot drives the paraglider, while you are the passenger and your only obligation is to enjoy the view (and to faster your seatbelt of course!). She booked the flight four weeks in advance, it was a flight of an hour and half and she paid €120.

Screen shot of tandem paragliding flights in Tegernsee

The other friend of mine went for a much more conservative sport: sailing, which is also a great idea to spend the Sundays in summertimeThe "Sailing Center" in Tegernsee has a sailing school that offer all types of courses: for children, for teenagers, in groups, private lessons, compact courses in one weekend or scheduled across the summer in different days.


Screen shot of the Sailing center and school in Tegernsee


The prices go from €290 per person for a Katamaran basic course; €315 per person for a Sailing basic course  or if you like: something more exclusive like €75 per person per hour of private lesson.

There are much more that you can do in Tegernsee

  • sunbathe and swim in the Sandy beach,  
  • hire a volleyball court, 
  • rent a small boat,
  • learn windsurfing or
  • go on a hiking (or bike) tour around the lake/area, etc.

I am not posting info on where I was sunbathing last weekend, because I am working on an blog entry about swimming pools in Munich and I hope it will be ready very soon, so you can get tips for this summer if you are staying in the city.

Until then I wish you all a great week! And as always, drop my a line if you have already done some of the above plans on a Sunday or the ones in "the best plan for a Sunday in Munich part. 1/2" or if you have other suggestions!


July 4, 2013

Munich is expensive but safe

Munich is expensive and if someone tells you otherwise, they are lying to you. 

Let me give you three examples:


***FOODSTUFF*** 

If you live in Munich, you and I got very bad news last week: the food prices are rising in Germany. The demand for regional food products in Bavaria keeps growing but in the country the crops do not grow as usual due to the long winter, the cold and now the "Hochwasser" (=the floods).

The Isar in June 2013
Grocery shopping is more expensive today than it was a year ago. The German inflation is higher than expected and this time we cannot blame the European crisis. The heavy rain led to floods that made the Isar almost burst its bank, disrupted the roads and main transport routes and damaged or even ruined the regional crops. 


For example the bavarian "Spargel" was threatened due to the low temperatures in winter and then the heavy rain. The "Spargel" is a big thing here in Bavaria. Above all the Schrobenhausener Spargel. The Asparagus season starts in April and ends at the end of June, when the Germans say: "Kirschen rot, Spargel tot" (=cherries red, asparagus dead). This year not everyone could enjoyed the bavarian Asparagus, because the prices went up so much that the popular "Spargel" became a luxury.
Screen shot of the Schrobenhausener Spargel site
The asparagus was not the only one crop affected. 
A week ago Die Welt newspaper reported that because of some country areas being under water, grocery shops and markets were selling imported vegetables and fruits instead of the usual regional products. In this season there are not German pepers, aubergines, cucumbers, strawberries, tomatos... 


OEBZ in Munich


***RENT***

"Stoppt die Mietpreisspirale" (= stop the rent costs spiral). To rent a room/apartment in Munich is costly. Unfortunately very little can be done about it.

The organisation "Stoppt die Mietpreisspirale" recognises that Munich grows as a city and that this is not a bad thing. What it is bad, is the fact that the rent prices go in just one direction: up. Unfortunately families cannot longer afford to live in the city: it is simply too expensive. 
Screen shot of the Stoppt die Mietpreisspirale site
The Organization gave a press conference on Thursday and then they all met on Saturday in Stachus to claim more protection for the tenants; to speed up the residential construction in the city at affordable prices and to stop the misuse and the unoccupied building spaces. 

According to the Abendzeitung the square meter in Munich costs €14,20. News at the T-Online site says €12,53 and the online real state website ImmobilienScout24 sets it at €12,30. One euro more, a few cents less... the differences are not big and all sources  agree in one thing: Munich is the most expensive city in Germany when it comes to rent (residential).


Screen shot of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung


***PUBLIC TRANSPORT*** 

...is expensive. Full stop. A single ticket in Munich (one way) costs €2,50 or have they put the prices up again?.


I live in Munich city center and I have a bike (Lola), which means that I do not use the public transport if I can avoid it. There are many like me, many. We are a majority in Munich. And we, as in "the bike riders", we find the metro expensive. I only take it to go to/from the airport and also every once in a while I buy a Streifenkarte, mostly in winter, so I can take the U- or S-Bahn when it is pouring down or freezing in Munich. 

Streifenkarte is a 10-strip ticket and costs €12,50.



Screen shot of the MVV site
Unfortunately there are people who systematically take the metro and do not pay for the ticket. Most of the times they claimed that the U-Bahn is too expensive, that there are not turnstiles or that they won't be caught... Ticket inspectors exist and they are "brutal" (fig.) when they find you. If they catch you without a ticket, they will loudly tell you off and you will get a €40 fine. 

After reading all the above, you have to agree with me: Munich is expensive, then why would someone want to live here? 
I once made a list. I came up with 33 reasons in favor, two against. The two reasons against Munich were : 1/it is expensive; 2/they speak German.

One day I will share with you my 33 reasons but today (unfortunately) I do not have the time nor the room. Instead I am going to focus in "the one reason" that is key for most people when they pick a home for their family: safety.

Munich is the safest city I have EVER known. 

According to the Augsburg Allgemeine newspaper, Munich is the the safest city in Germany. There were 7000 reported crimes per 100,000 population in Munich in 2012 while Frankfurt registered more than the double. 

In my experience/opinion people RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY in Munich:
  • You can walk or bike late at night back home, the city is safe.
  • They do not steal your umbrella. You can leave it at the entrance of any shop, your house, the  gym... and when you come back later, it will still be there.
  • The postman has a key to your building front door to access the mailboxes and nothing happens.
  • Your bike is safe. You can park it outside the supermarket, while you shop and even leave your stuff in the basket. All will still be in the basket when you come back.
  • Very very expensive cars are parked everyday on the streets of Munich and nobody steals them.
  • Home doors and locks are standard, not many have alarms installed. People go away on holidays and nobody breaks in.
  • Sometimes in winter people take off their shoes before entering the house (to avoid bringing the snow and the mud inside). They leave them outside on the doormat and nothing happens. Nobody steal them.
I feel safe in Munich. There are 7000 police officers that watch over us in Bayern every day. The only preventive measure I would suggest to take is to save the 110 number in the mobile (the emergency number), although there is a very small likelihood that you ever need it.

Do you find  Munich expensive? Do you find it safe?


June 1, 2013

German films and open-air cinemas in Munich

What German films do you know?

Off the top of my head I can name the following three German films that have gained international success over the past years:
  • "Goodbye Lenin" (2003, comedy): about a young man making unthinkable arrangements to avoid that her mother (who has finally woken up after spending many years in a coma) discovers that capitalism has come into East Berlin;
Screen shot of the IMDb page of "Goodbye Lenin"
  • "Keinohrhasen" (=Rabbit without ears, 2007, romantic comedy): about a tabloid reporter who meets a woman, while serving his community service time in a social center; and
Screen shot of the IMDb page of "Keinohrhasen"
  • "Türkisch für Anfänger" (=Turkish for beginners, 2012, comedy based on a popular German TV show) that tells the story of a German-Turkish family and their life in Germany.
The first two films were a blockbuster in Germany and gained some international success in Europe. Unfortunately they were an exception. If I keep thinking, I can come up with a few more German films that I have seen over the years and that I would recommend:
  • "Das Experiment" (=The Experiment, 2011, thriller): based on the book the "Black Box" of Mario Giordano (German writer born in Munich): about a social experiment located in a prison where the participants are randomly assigned to the roles of the prisoners and the guards;
  • "Lola rennt" (=Run Lola run, 1998, thriller) about a woman who runs to stop her boyfriend to commit a serious crime; and
Screen shot of the IMDb page of "Lola rennt"
  • "München" (=Munich, 2005, drama based on a true story) about the "Black September" that happened after the massacre in 1972 during the Olympics in Munich.
Screen shot of the IMDb page of "München"
According to the German Federal Film Board 115 film projects were funded in Germany in 2012: 40 were international co-productions; 3 were animated; 32 documentaries and 80 were feature films. 

Screen shot of the DFFF site = German Federal Film Board

Unfortunately many of them do not make it to the German cinemas and a smaller number manage to cross borders. This is very disappointing because there is a lot of talent in Germany and most of the time the rest of the world does not get to see it. And then you may ask: why is that?  
In my opinion: to some extend the German productions are sometimes TOO German. This makes them less exportable. When a film needs a German context to be understood , then it is very unlikely that the film will be valued in other countries.

Last Sunday the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag wrote an interesting article on the German film industry and the national subsidies. The piece was quite critical about how the subsidies work in Germany and how the federal funding system is not working when it comes to encourage the German film industry to be profitable. If you have an intermediate level of German, I recommend that you read the article


What do you think is the best German film ever?
  • The most successful German film of all times is "Der Schuh des Manitu" (=Manitu's shoe, 2001) parody based on a number of sketches of a late night comedy German tv show and on western films. 
Screen shot of the IMDb page of "Der Schuh des Manitu")
  • the second most successful is "(t)Raumschiff Surprise - Periode 1" (=Space ship/dream ship surprise, 2004 science fiction comedy and parody). 
  • "Schulmädchen report" (The School Girls, 1970, drama) and "7 Zwerge - Männer allein im Wald" (=7 Dwarfs - men alone in the forest, 2004, comedy) are also in the top five.
I am very ashamed to confess that, despite my ten years of personal (and seven of professional) relationship with Germany, I have never seen these films nor heard from them. I would be interested in knowing, how many of you expats have seen/heard of these films...

Let's move on to Who do you think are the most popular German actors/actresses these days? And please do not say "Schwarzernegger"!!!! He is not German. He was born in Austria!!!!

Unfortunately, he is the only German-speaking actor that many people know. For your information, the following four are very talented German actors and quite successful internationally, check their IMDb profiles and I bet that you have seen them in at least one movie:
In line with best films and popular actors/actresses, this blog entry would not be completed without mentioning The Berlinale: the most international German film festival that takes place in Berlin every year:

" (...) a great cultural event and one of the most important dates for the international film industry. More than 300,000 sold tickets, almost 20,000 professional visitors from 124 countries, including around 3,700 journalists: art, glamour, parties and business are all inseparably linked at the Berlinale. (..)" - THE BERLINALE OFFICIAL SITE


Screen shot of the Berlinale official site
Munich has a very popular Film Festival too takes place every year at the end of June. in 2013 it will start on the 26th of June. Check their site for information on the program.



Also for those of you who love the cinema and Munich: the most successful film studio in Bavaria is the Bavaria Film GmbH founded in 1919, which makes over €250 Mio. in sales profits every year. Besides Munich has a Film city located 10km from the city center and that is like a themed park and that can be visited. 


To know about the movie theatres in Munich that offer OV films: go check the blog entry "Munich: going to the movies in English".


In addition I would like to mention here the Film Museum in Munich. It is located next to the City Museum in St Jakobs-Platz, 1 and has a very interesting program, with different screenings every day of German and international productions, always in original version.





And finally, probably what you were expecting: the list of open-air cinemas in Munich! In a week or so most of them should be up and running... IF THE WEATHER let them...
95% of all films are in German, the rest 5% are OV in English and French, but not all locations offer them, so check their sites for more information. Prices go from €7 to €10.

Olympiasee

Westpark
Königsplatz
Viehhof

Do you have any tips on German films/actors?


Related posts:

Going to the movies in English
Germany knows good food
Books, books, books...