Three to see at LFF if you like... German-language films

Juliane Grieb recommends three hot tickets at this year’s BFI London Film Festival: a film by an established director, a great debut, and a wild card.

Juliane Grieb
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The new film from an established director…

Wild

Wild (2016)

Wild (2016)

What’s it about?

Wild is a radical love story between a woman and a wolf. After they meet in the woods, Ania becomes obsessed with the wild, beautiful animal and is overwhelmed by a sensual longing and a desire to domesticate it. She risks everything to make her dream come true.

Who made it?

Nicolette Krebitz started her career as an actor and is probably best known for her role in the German film Bandits (1997). She has been writing and directing her own films since 2001. Wild is her third feature and had its premiere in Sundance earlier this year.

What’s special about it?

Despite the fantastical premise, Krebitz tells Ania’s story in a realistic way. We are instantly drawn into this poetic tale about a woman abandoning conformism and fear to start a relationship with a wild animal. The film was shot using a real wolf and throughout we are left wondering how some of the scenes were filmed without anybody being harmed. So while you can indulge in the beauty of the story, you also have a sense of nervousness, coupled with excitement and amazement that such a film is possible. It is a confident, confusing and overwhelming work – definitely a cinematic experience unlike any other from Germany for a long time.

The breakthrough…

All of a Sudden

All of a Sudden (2016)

All of a Sudden (2016)

What’s it about?

After a wild party at Karsten’s apartment, everybody leaves except Anna, who Karsten assumes is a friend of a friend. Before dawn, Anna dies in mysterious circumstances and Karsten’s well-established life as a banker begins to spiral out of control.

Who made it?

Born in Istanbul, writer-director Asli Özge graduated from the communication faculty of Istanbul University. She has lived in Berlin since 2000 where she founded the production company EEE with her long-time director of photography, Emre Erkmen. Both her previous films, Men on the Bridge and Lifelong, have screened at LFF and she now returns with her first German-language feature.

What’s special about it?

All of a Sudden manages to surprise its audience right from the beginning. Not only because we are wondering what actually happened in Karsten’s apartment after the party, but also because the film continuously changes direction, with unpredictable twists and turns. This psychological drama expertly explores questions of guilt and morality, justice and hypocrisy, reminding you how life can change all of a sudden.

The wild card…

The Dreamed Ones

The Dreamed Ones (2016)

The Dreamed Ones (2016)

What’s it about?

In a recording studio in Vienna two young actors read from the nearly 20-year correspondence (1948-67) between Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan, both important representatives of postwar German-language poetry. A Romanian-born Jewish poet, Celan lost both his parents in the Nazi genocide. Bachmann, an Austrian poet and dramatist, was the daughter of a Nazi, and both had a huge impact on each other’s work.

Who made it?

Ruth Beckermann was born in Vienna and today lives and works as an independent author and filmmaker in Vienna and Paris. She studied journalism and art history in Vienna, Tel Aviv and New York and co-founded the distribution company Filmladen in 1978. She was involved with the company for seven years, and her first films and books date from that period.

What’s special about it?

It is such a simple yet strong concept, one which will renew your faith in romantic love. We are part of a very intimate setup in a recording studio and, while listening to the young actors reading the letters to each other, we are privy to Bachmann’s and Celan´s lust and longing, their accusations, their fears and uncertainties, their expressions of intimacy and estrangement.

The camerawork and editing break up the dialogue by changing perspective, and we witness the young actors’ relationship evolve as the beauty of the writing triggers a sensual chemistry between them. By following the two actors to their cigarette breaks and hearing them discuss the letters they’ve just read, Ruth Beckermann achieves something magical: transgressing time by bringing the story of this literary love affair to life again.

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