It's quite amazing. The most promising German films are no longer being made in the capital Berlin. They're not being made in Munich or Hamburg either, but in Köln/Cologne, a city that, due to WDR and RTL, is better known for television. In the last ten years, a network of young, passionate filmmakers has emerged in this city on the Rhine along the Filmclub 813, the Cologne Film House, and recently the Academy of Media Arts.
Westend - Germany 2001 - Directed by: Markus Mischkowski, Kai Maria Steinkühler - Written by: Markus Mischkowski - Photographed by: KaPe Schmidt, DGPh - Music by: Haifaboys - Cast: Markus Mischkowski, Kai Maria Steinkühler, Jens Claßen, Katharina Schmaltz, Karen Oldenburg, Arved Birnbaum, Jan Stahlberg, Ralf Richter - Produced by: Kai Künnemann Filmproduktion - Premiere: October 24, 2001 (Hof International Film Festival)
Westend (short) 1997 - Germany 1997 - Directed by: Markus Mischkowski, Kai Maria Steinkühler - Written by: Markus Mischkowski - Photographed by: KaPe Schmidt, DGPh - Music by: Tobias Doetsch, Klaus Garnitz, Jürgen Garnitz - Cast: Markus Mischkowski, Kai Maria Steinkühler, Jens Claßen - Produced by: Westendfilme - Premiere: March 22, 1997 (Filmclub 813 Cologne)
Wolga 2003 - Germany 2003 - Directed by: Markus Mischkowski, Kai Maria Steinkühler - Written by: Markus Mischkowski - Photographed by: KaPe Schmidt, DGPh - Music by: Tobias Doetsch - Cast: Markus Mischkowski, Kai Maria Steinkühler, Sonja Potthast, Anja Terkamo - Produced by: Westendfilme - Premiere: January 25, 2003 (Rotterdam International Film Festival)
About the film
Like most films of the "Kölner Gruppe", Westend succeeds in discovering cinema traditions, ranging from slapstick to Italian Western, in German everyday life. The unemployed friends Mike and Alfred follow in the tradition of great comic double-acts and Western buddies. The filmmakers play the parts of Mike and Alfred themselves, interpreting them as beautiful losers in splendid outfits between tastelessness and daring chic. They could be the German cousins of Jay and Silent Bob, characters created by the American director Kevin Smith who philosophize about the sheer absurdity of life.
Since Mike and Alfred live on the outskirts of the city, Cologne's cathedral and city centre can only be seen in the distance. The quarter Westend, which DoP KaPe Schmidt depicts in a black-and-white B-movie style, is an urban no-man's-land. The tenement blocks, desolate supermarkets, and warehouses where dubious business takes place are populated by nerds, dreamers and hopeless wheeler-dealers. It's a German wasteland of broken dreams in which kiosks appear to be the last oasis. Mike and Alfred take over just such a kiosk. "If you have no opportunities in life, you have to use them." As did Herbert Achternbusch's Atlantic Swimmers, kindred spirits of Mike and Alfred. In an affectionate and sometimes nasty parody of free enterprise and capitalism, the filmmakers show how Mike and Alfred achieve success: by turning the old shack into a pit stop on life's racetrack and then by taking advantage of each other. When the glorious losers in Westend brag about "positive stress" and "intelligent cars", the film turns into a tragicomic and poetic rap.
Like many films of the "Kölner Gruppe", Westend contains a true seriousness, a melancholy that leaves you hoping for the resurrection of the old myths friendship, love and daring, in the ruined landscape of the city outskirts. A small adjustment, a slight oscillation, and Mike and Alfred, standing in front of a Ford Capri lowrider similar to the GTO in the cult movie Two-Lane Blacktop, resemble two pioneers who will surely overcome the end of the West. The most beautiful scene takes place in a disco full of Kaurismäki charm. An old cowboy sings "My heart flies away". And we do believe the old blues singer, just as we believe the two losers who are heroes too.
- Westend 2001, 89'
- Chapter selection
- Shorts films Westend 1997, 17' and Wolga 2003, 14'
- Interviews withe the directors of with the director of photography
- Stills and songs, also as DVD-ROM features for PC
DVD edited by: Film & Kunst GmbH with Filmmuseum München and Goethe-Institut München
DVD authoring: Ralph Schermbach
DVD supervision: Stefan Drössler
First edition February 2006, Second edition March 2008