Many of the German language films I feature here each month are from either starring a specific actor or the creation of a specific director or screenwriter. It is less common that an individual takes on more than one role. It seems like people pick a side and focus on honing their skills there. This month, however, I am highlighting one of those people with talent in a variety of fields. Jan-Ole Gerster’s career began with directing and while that remains his main focus, he is also a screenwriter and, occasionally, an actor. So this month, let us learn German with the films of filmmaker Jan-Ole Gerster!
Get to Know Jan-Ole Gerster
Jan-Ole Gerster was born in 1978 in Hagen, in the west of Germany. By 2000, Gerster had relocated to Berlin. There he took on an apprenticeship with X Filme Creative Pool, founded by directors Tom Tykwer, Dani Levy, and Wolfgang Becker along with producer Stefan Arndt.
The internship clearly had an impact on Gerster as he enrolled at Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin, a Berlin film school, and studied directing and screenwriting. His graduation project, a film called Oh Boy would go on to become more than just a simple school project.
Ein Freund von mir (A Friend of Mine)
While Gerster is known as a director, he took his turn as an actor in 2006’s Ein Freund von mir. The comedic drama stars Daniel Brühl and Jürgen Vogel. In the film, Brühl’s Karl is an uptight insurance executive is given a job assignment to spy a questionable car rental company. There he meets the carefree Hans (Vogel) who quickly becomes an influence, for better or for worse, on Karl.
In the film, Gerster portrays Cornelius, one of Karl’s coworkers.
Oh Boy (A Coffee in Berlin)
Known as Oh Boy or A Coffee in Berlin, the 2012 black and white film is Gerster’s directorial debut as well as his graduation project. The film stars Tom Schilling. The film’s cast also includes Gerster’s partner, actress Friederike Kempter.
In the film, Niko (Schilling) finds his life a shambles. He is a college dropout, he breaks up with his girlfriend, his psychiatrist labels him unfit to drive, and his father cuts him off financially. So Niko takes to the streets of the German capital, wandering aimlessly and attempting to make sense of his life.
Oh Boy collected a number of awards at both the German Film Awards and the European Film Awards. Gerster, in particular, was recognized within Germany as best director and for best screenplay.
In 2019, Gerster released Lara, his second film as director. Corinna Harfouch stars in the title role while Tom Schilling portrays her son, Viktor. In the film, Lara is celebrating her 60th birthday on the same evening as her son is to give an important piano concert. It is a time to celebrate for this mother who drove her son into a career in music. But as his concert approaches, Lara has not heard from Viktor. The problem is that she is not exactly welcome. Instead of trying to repair her relationship, she instead buys up the tickets and distributes them to everyone she knows. Unfortunately, the night is not quite what Lara hopes.
Practice practice practice! Discover other great German-language actors and actresses previously featured.
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