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    East meets West in German war-film series

    Above: Rainer Simon’s  “Wengler & Sons: A Legend.”
    DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst
    Rainer Simon’s “Wengler & Sons: A Legend.”

    Starting Sept. 15, the Goethe-Institut Boston presents a rare chance to see films from both sides of the German perspective on the Great War. The series, titled Made in West/East Germany: WWI, begins with a rare showing of the 1971 documentary “Kaiser, Citizens and Comrades,” containing archival footage that chronicles the political, cultural, and social climate in Germany from 1871 to 1918.

    “The Kaiser’s Lackey” (Sept. 17), a 1951 historical satire from East Germany, is based on Heinrich Mann’s novel “Der Untertan,” written during World War I. It’s ranked among the most significant German films of all time by critics.

    Also from East Germany is Ralf Kirsten’s 1986 film “Käthe Kollwitz — Images of a Life” (Sept. 22). Kollwitz, regarded as one of the most important German artists of the 20th century, became radicalized after her son was killed in Flanders, and her art increasingly took on themes of war. Similar upheaval occurs in Rainer Simon’s 1986 family saga, “Wengler & Sons: A Legend” (Sept. 29), which follows three generations through the German Reich and Weimar Republic to the Third Reich.


    Other films in the series include Margarete von Trotta’s 1986 biopic “Rosa Luxemburg” (Sept. 24), starring Barbara Sukowa as the European socialist leader who spent much time in prison because of her political views and her opposition to World War I. Michael Haneke’s 2009 film “The White Ribbon” (Oct. 1) takes place on the eve of the first World War, in a village in Protestant North Germany, where seemingly ordinary life takes mysterious turns. All screenings are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5.

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    Place of no

    Dock Ellis in “No No: A Dockumentary.”
    Dock Ellis in “No No: A Dockumentary.”
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    Jeffrey Radice’s baseball film “No No: A Dockumentary,” which opens Sept. 5 at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, will undoubtedly be most talked about for the time it spends on one shocking moment: June 12, 1970, when Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates while high on LSD. But the film is also a lively look at the sport in the late ’60s and early ’70s, offering footage that will appeal to all fans of the game. Ellis, who died in 2008, later pitched for the Yankees. Yet it’s worth noting that he had a soft spot for a certain Red Sox infielder: The great Johnny Pesky, Ellis’s minor league manager while with the Columbus Jets, made Ellis his “dog” (the label for a go-to reliever) and thus accelerated his advance to the majors.

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    Silent no more

    A screening of the 2014 documentary “A Culture of Silence,” about the devastating impact of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Sierra Leone, will benefit the Amazonian Initiative Movement in Sierra Leone, a local organization founded and directed by Rugiatu Neneh Turay, considered the most controversial woman in the African country as a result of her efforts to abolish FGM. Named best documentary feature at this year’s Roxbury International Film Festival, “A Culture of Silence” is director Raouf J. Jacob’s first feature-length documentary. Originally from war-torn Sierra Leone, Jacob’s family fled during the civil war in 1999 and immigrated to Boston in 2000. The screening takes place Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Belmont Studio Cinema.

    Tickets are $60 and can be purchased at

    Out of Africa

    The National Center for Jewish Film and Brandeis University hosts anti-apartheid activist, lawyer, and South African constitutional court judge Albie Sachs and filmmaker Abby Ginzberg for a post-screening discussion of the new documentary “Soft Vengeance:
    Albie Sachs and the New South Africa.”
    Ginzberg’s film chronicles Sachs’s efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, his imprisonment, torture, and exile. After the release of Nelson Mandela, Sachs returned to South Africa where he helped write the new constitution and was appointed by Mandela as one of the first judges of the new constitutional court. The screening and discussion takes place Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Wasserman Cinematheque, Sachar International Center, Brandeis University in Waltham. Tickets are $10 but free to Brandeis students and faculty.

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    Island in the dark

    Marking the annual end to the summer’s movie calendar is the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, which this year runs Sept. 2-7. Besides shorts and features like Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” and Cherien Dabis’s “May in the Summer,” there’s the premiere of the documentary concert film “Austin to Boston.” Director James Marcus Haney follows the bands Ben Howard, the Staves, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Bear’s Den as they hit the road in 2012, journeying from Austin’s SXSW Music Festival to a performance at Berklee College of Music.

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    Loren King can be reached at