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Festival of German Films Honor Juniata Language Professor

(Posted January 21, 2008)

The Monks, a 1960s-era rock band of former American GI's who played primarily in Europe, are the subject of a documentary film, "The Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback." The film is part of the Klaus Jaeger German Film Days at Juniata, Jan. 30-Feb. 1.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A small central Pennsylvania town will briefly become the center of German contemporary independent cinema as Juniata College hosts a three-day film festival honoring Klaus Jaeger, the college's longtime professor of German, at the Clifton 5 Theatre at 717 Washington St. in Huntingdon from Jan. 30 through Feb. 1.

Each of the three feature films in the festival will start at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the theatre for each movie is free.

The film festival, "Klaus Jaeger German Film Days," has been organized and will be hosted by Jennifer Jones, a Huntingdon, Pa. native and 1994 Juniata graduate who has lived in Germany for the past 12 years. Currently, she is program director of the European Union Digital Film Project "Europe's Finest." She also is a thematic program manager for the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen. She is the former artistic director of Feminale International Women's Film Festival in Cologne, Germany.

The festival is sponsored by the Clifton 5 Theater, the Goethe Institute and Christoph Schwemmlein, a Juniata College trustee.

Klaus Jaeger, who retires as a Juniata faculty member in June, began his 30-plus year career at Juniata in 1972. Jaeger started his higher education by studying literature at the University of Kiel, in Kiel, Germany, and earned his master's degree in German literature at Ohio State University. He taught at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. and joined Juniata's faculty in 1972. He and his wife, Ellin, endowed the Max Bliss-Angus Karns scholarship by donating Klaus' award for winning the Beachley Distinguished Professor Award in 1992.

The festival opens Wednesday, Jan. 30 with the film "Science Fiction" a 112-minute subtitled journey through a door into a parallel universe. At first, the two protagonists have fun discovering where the portal takes them, but they soon discover that not every open door is an opportunity.

The film is directed by Franz Mueller and has been shown at many international festivals. He is a member of Filmclub 813 and is co-editor of the Berlin film journal "Revolver."

In addition, there will be a screening of a short film, "Koelner Bewegungen," directed by Bernhard Marsch, before the longer feature film.

The second film, a documentary, "Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback," plays at 7:30 p.m., Jan. 31. The 100-minute film is in German and English with subtitles. The film details a rock band formed by five American servicemen stationed in Germany. Eventually, the band members left the service and remained in Germany where they renamed their band "The Monks." Wearing black robes and sporting monk-like hairstyles, The Monks played music where lyrics and melody were less important than rhythmic patterns. Their music, which peaked in 1967, influenced later punk, techno and industrial music groups such as Black Flag, Kraftwerk and the Velvet Underground. The film covers the band's career and updates where its members are today.

Earlier in the day, director Dietmar Post will present a workshop "Documentary Filmmaking: Open vs. Closed Concept," at 3:30 p.m. in Room C-116 in the Dale Hall wing of the Brumbaugh Academic Center.

Director Dietmar Post, who dedicated the festival screenings to the late Dave Day Havlicek, former banjo player for the Monks, who died Jan. 10, will answer questions after the screening. He co-directed the film with Lucia Palacios. Post lives in Berlin and earned a master's degree in cinema, television and theatre studies.

The final day of the festival, Feb. 1, opens with a lecture and workshop at 3:30 p.m., in Room C116 in the Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus. (Room C-116 is on the lower floor of the Dale Hall wing of the center.) The lecture, "Cologne Tribes: Carnival, Re-enactment and the Invention of Tradition in German Popular Culture," is given by Anja Dreschke, junior lecturer in media studies at the University of Siegen in Germany.

Dreschke will show excerpts of her documentary film "Cologne Tribes," which illuminates modern societies or tribes that re-enact in historical costumes the rituals of the Huns and Mongolians. She will trace such tribes back through German pop culture to the 19th century when the books of Karl May, a German novelist who had never actually been in the American West, inspired a celebration of Native American culture. She also will give a workshop on her research.

Later in the evening at the Clifton 5 at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1, is "The Career Changers" ("Die Quereinsteigerinnen"), directed by Rainer Knepperges and Christian Mrasek. The 81-minute subtitled film also features Knepperges as an actor. The movie centers on two young girls who kidnap a telecommunications executive and demand a comically inadequate ransom. Eventually the kidnapped executive begins to sympathize with his bumbling abductors.

Director and actor Knepperges will answer questions from the audience about "Career Changers" after the screening. He is a founding member of the Cologne-based Filmclub 813 and is a member of The Cologne Group.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.