Über-Ich und Du
Benjamin Heisenberg, Germany/Switzerland/Austria 2014
A surprisingly humorous romp focusing on a middle-aged tramp Nick (Georg Friedrich) who pretends to be the new caretaker for a famous aging psychiatrist Carl (André Wilms). Nick is hiding out from the powerful people he owes money to and Carl is preparing for a symposium to defend himself because his career began with the help of the Nazis. The two get into numerous hijinks, much to the chagrin of Carl’s family, and it culminates in Carl psychoanalyzing Nick which results in their personality quirks swapping bodies. You have to see it to believe it (and understand it!)
While perhaps not the most realistic comedy, its fresh take on mature male relationships is nice to see. Andre Wilms does an amazing job at portraying the hilarity of getting older, as well as its tragedies. With many laughs and absurd moments, you won’t regret giving it a watch.
Annekatrin Hendel, Germany 2014
Sascha Anderson was a leading figure in the underground art scene of East Berlin in the 1980’s. It later came out that he was spying on his friends for the Stasi. Anderson is a documentary film where Sascha and his former friends are interviewed about the past and the effect it had on everyone involved.
This was quite the controversial film at the festival, and it is easy to see how it could be divisive. With quotes such as, “In other societies you wouldn’t let him live. The punishment for betraying your friends is death. („In anderen Gesellschaften hätte man ihn nicht überleben lassen. Da steht auf Freundesverrat der Tod.”) Coming from Anderson’s former friends, it is clear that tensions still run high even 25 years after the fact. However, as Anderson himself stated, these people were not innocent victims, but actively protesting against the state and therefore putting themselves at risk. That they continue to view his participation with the Stasi as such a crime (especially when no one was harmed by his intel), seems extreme. Anderson is definitely worth a watch, although overall, it feels extremely biased. As the entire film involves his former friends slinging metaphorical mud at him, there is little opportunity for real dialogue which is a shame.
Philip Widmann, Germany 2014
A briefcase is opened to reveal the documentation of the lives of one middle-class man named Hans who is having an affair with his secretary Monika. Hans has clinically written about the many times he has met with Monika including short descriptions of what the sex was like and what Monika’s mood was at the time. The filmmakers have filled out these statements with statistical data about the life of average men and women in 1970’s Cologne.
At first Szenario seems bizarre and jarring, but as the film progresses the statistics help to form the personalities of Hans, Monika and their significant others. By the end, it becomes clear that this is a scathingly ironic and sly analysis of the female gender roles in Germany in the 1970s. It is truly a genuinely fascinating anthropological study of a statistical past.
Janin Demange, United Kingdom 2014
During a riot, a young English soldier is lost in the back streets of Belfast in the middle of the Troubles. He finds himself constantly thrown between the loyalists and the rebels and as the film progresses it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the two groups apart. In a highly atmospheric and often times confusing film, we watch as the soldier struggles to find his way to safety.
A film about the Troubles that was written by a Scotsman, directed by an Englishman and which shows the British side feels like it could be highly problematic. However, ’71 manages to make a powerful film that skirts along the political edges of taking sides. It is more about how war is hell and how absolutely devastating and unclear the Troubles were for everyone involved. Despite some powerful moments, it may be highly confusing to those who are uninformed about the politics of Northern Ireland of the time. It is certainly an unflinching story, but one that can leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who realizes that it shows British soldiers in a largely sympathetic view and doesn’t do much to redeem the Irish.