The tour through Rhineland-Westfalia continued today with screenings in Aachen and Cologne. I’d never been to Aachen before, but it always looked kind of nice out the train window on my various trips to Paris, so I was curious to see more of the town. Like most German cities, it’s an odd mix of old buildings reconstructed after WWII and mostly ugly new buildings quickly erected after the war. But at least Aachen has a nice old town center and a stunning cathedral well worth seeing.
The Apollo Kino is a fun place which these days lives more off of parties than showing movies. The theater where FORGETTING DAD was playing had a bar in the back and chairs which could be easily removed to turn the place into a party room, where I’m told things get pretty wild and the bouncers have their hands full.
When I heard that Aachen is a college town, I was hopeful that lots of students would show up. But ever since the liberal arts departments were phased out in the 1990s and the university shifted its focus to engineering and science, the students have all but abandoned the Apollo and its arthouse programming in favor of high-tech Hollywood spectacles à la Terminator at the local multiplex. In a town of 220,000 with 45,000 students, these changes at the university all but killed arthouse cinema in Aachen. Now most Apollo audiences are in the 50-60 year range. Today, only three women showed up. I gave a little intro, then had a steak dinner with the technical director of the cinema, who gave me the scoop on the whole situation there, and told me how Wim Wenders had been there a few years ago with his film Palermo Shooting, and also had the steak with pepper sauce.
I made it to Cologne in plenty of time for the 8 p.m. premiere, and was happy to be welcomed by all the kind folks at W-Film, who are really doing a terrific job at getting FORGETTING DAD into theaters. The place was about half full like in Düsseldorf, and the crowd was appreciative. The Q & A went on for about 45 minutes. Some audience members appeared to be more frustrated with the lack of a clear answer in the film than I am, and couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be in my shoes or anyone else’s in my family. I guess I’ve just had more time to come to terms with the whole situation, and am no longer angry and horrified by it.
After the Q & A, a 60ish gentleman came up to me and told me how his son disappeared in the US ten years ago. He wanted to know if I had any tips on how to track him down. He was clearly distressed by the situation, and I felt a bit clueless about how to help him. Here was a father who desperately wants to reconnect with his son, and I’m a son who wants to reconnect with his father, who is apparently doing his best to keep his former life at bay.
After sleeping on it, I’ve thought of a few ways to help this man, so if you’re out there reading this, please contact me.
Many thanks to Miriam, Stephan and everyone at W-Film as well as Martin Roelly and the good folks from the Odeon Kino for being so supportive, and making the evening a delight!