to dec. 7

When a leather-jacket-clad James Dean wielded a knife and rebelled against “whatever you got” in Nicholas Ray’s 1955 film Rebel Without a Cause, he must have looked more than a little bit spoiled to the teens of East Berlin. At least, that’s what you might guess while watching the 1957 East German film Berlin Shonhauser Corner (pictured). Director Gerhard Klein substitutes the crumbled streets of East Berlin for Ray’s vacuous L.A. suburbs, telling a tale of disgruntled youth—lonely for a motorcycle, a West Mark, and a sense of purpose in life—as they confront the realities of coming of age in a totalitarian Communist state. Those realities were a little grimmer than those faced by their American counterparts: At least Dean didn’t have to wait 10 years for a state-provided plastic car to play chicken in. The film shows as part of the National Gallery of Art and the Goethe-Institut’s “Rebels With a Cause: The Cinema of East Germany” film festival. Other screenings include The Gleiwitz Case (at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11), an account of the last hours before the Nazi invasion of Poland; Born in ’45 (at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12), in which a motorcycle buff longs for the freedom of his bachelor days; and Carbide and Sorrell (at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 14), a comedic look at a Dresden laborer’s scramble through the Soviet Occupied Zone. The festival runs to Saturday, Nov. 25, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street & Constitution Avenue NW, free, (202) 737-4215; to Thursday, Dec. 7, at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $9.25. (301) 495-6700. (Aaron Leitko)

More from WCP