The German Film Festival returns with a wide selection of genre films, from period dramas and romantic comedies to thrillers and Ulrich Seidl’s critically-acclaimed Paradise: Love and Paradise: Hope (Paradise: Faith is banned here). Here’s what not to miss.

Paradise: Love
A docu-drama equal parts illuminating and repulsive, this. An unflinching look into the dark nature of the human condition, Austrian director Ulrich Seidl examines the effect of loneliness and the elusive search for love through its main protagonist Teresa (Margaret Tiesel, winner of the best actress award for her role here at the recent Austrian Film Festival), a plus-sized recent divorcee who goes on a solo holiday to Kenya. Although quietly reserved at first, she soon gets sucked into the hedonistic lifestyle of similarly bored housewives hoping to find meaning in their lives by playing “sugar mamas” to young, eager Kenyan men.

But the sweet-natured Teresa lets emotions get in the way and starts to develop feelings for her hires, who in turn further abuse their relationships by acquiring more money from her as she ventures further into depression and rage. The film, beautifully lensed in long takes by Ed Lachman (The Virgin Suicides) and Wolfgang Thaler, disquietingly illustrates the thin line between sex, love and money, with the naturalistic Tiesel, an amateur actress, at the core of this devastating depiction. And the film’s raison d’etre, a girls’ night in where Teresa and friends objectifies a Kenyan stripper during the former’s birthday party, is tough to watch because of its ugliness and realism.
Nov 9, 11:45pm; Nov 14, 9:30pm.

Paradise: Hope
The last film in the Paradise series centers on Teresa’s teenage daughter Melanie, who falls for a 50-year-old trainer at a boot camp. The searing tension between the two leads (Melanie Lenz and Joseph Lorenz) is reason enough to watch this.
Nov 9, 9:25pm; Nov 16, 9:30pm.

Free Fall
A hardworking policeman (Hanno Kofler), whose wife is pregnant, starts to develop feelings for a charismatic cop (Max Riemelt). Unlike the flux of gay films out there, this one’s played out beautifully.
Nov 15, 11:15pm.

Nothing Bad Can Happen
The twisted debut film by Katrin Gebbe, which premiered at Cannes this year, centers on the tense and often violent relationship between a rebellious young man (Julius Feldmeier) and an elder man from a religious group.
Nov 16, 6:50pm.

Exit Marrakech
This scorching family drama by Caroline Link (the Oscar-winning Nowhere in Africa) stars The White Ribbon’s Samuel Schneider as a 17-year-old attempting to reconcile with his estranged father while being sucked into the underbelly of sleazy night clubs.
Nov 17, 8:30pm.

The festival is on through Nov 17. All films are screened at The Cathay, 2 Handy Rd., 6736-7310. $11 from


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