Opening 2 Dec 2010
Five films featured at the 2010 Filmfest Hamburg had some reference to Christmas, but Norwegian Bent Hamer is the only director whose film will actually start in Hamburg in time for the holidays. There are five episodes which reflect age-old problems such as a homeless alcoholic who visits his old girlfriend in her trailer in the woods. A young man and his pregnant wife flee the war in Kosovo to find safety in Norway. A woman realizes that her lover will never leave his wife. A young Christian boy spends Christmas Day with a Muslim girl. These situations are always painful, but seem doubly so during the holiday of brotherly love.
Bent vacillates between kitsch and genuine humor. For example, a childless gynaecologist delivers the Kosovo couple’s baby in an abandoned cabin in the snow-covered woods. Norway is as good as Bethlehem any day. On the other hand, Home for Christmas offered the funniest Christmas scene of the entire Filmfest Hamburg: a divorced father seeks a peek at his kids who live with their mother and her new husband. Hiding in their garage, he discovers the Santa Claus suit of the interloper as well as presents for the children. He dons the costume, rings the doorbell and thus gains access to his kids by playing Santa Claus, much to the astonishment of his wife. The children, not fooled at all, are thrilled that Daddy has arrived – even better than Santa.
Bent Hamer discussed his film with the audience of the Filmfest Hamburg. He said that it was, as always, “difficult to get the money together for this film” although he should be in a more privileged position, considering that he is well-known for his successful films such as O’Horton, Factotum, and Kitchen Stories. One viewer wanted to know “why was the church locked in the final scene?” and Hamer mumbled something about “churches don’t always have to include all people.” He said that he based the segments on a book of short stories by Levi Henriksen. Filmed in Norway as well as Duisburg, Germany, the atmosphere is melancholic and dark – not so uplifting and even perhaps quickly forgotten. (Becky Tan)