Opening 15 Nov 2018
Alice (Eva Löbau) lives alone in her apartment, but this is not the reason for her reclusiveness. Her problem is long-term unemployment. Others have a goal, a plan, action every day. Alice is subjected to long hours of searching for a job and never getting past the original application, never being invited to an interview. She pretends to her friends and parents that all is well, although some of them would probably offer to help. She is ashamed and would rather pretend that she is working in some nebulous freelance trade. Slowly her resources shrink; she will soon turn 40 and faces an empty bank account, losing her apartment, and life on the street. She has a few gasoline gift certificates, which she can trade among friends for a bit of cash. It’s a never-ending downward spiral with a few uplifting moments, for example sleeping with the neighbor.
Director Lucia Chiarla says, “These days the greatest luck is having a job. Anyone with full employment cannot imagine the situation caused by unemployment. Applying for a job is more strenuous than actually going to work. Unemployment means waking up each morning and not knowing how to spend the rest of the day. Slowly one doubts one’s sanity, being ‘not quite right’, not quite normal.” The German title is the translation of the game “Musical Chairs.” Here the players continuously circle chairs which are set up with one chair fewer than participants. The music stops, all sit down and the person without a chair must leave the game. Chiarla says, “In my story, Musical Chairs is the metaphor for the job hunter in a society which is becoming more intensely defined by the job.” Lucia Chiarla was born and raised in Genoa, Italy. At age 35 she moved to Berlin where her film career took off, amazingly, in spite of the unfamiliar culture and language. This is her first full-length feature film. (Becky Tan)