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

Juliane Grieb recommends three hot tickets at the 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…

Lara

What’s it about?

Lara is simultaneously proud and jealous of her son’s success as a pianist. Her 60th birthday coincides with his highly-anticipated concert, which she is planning to attend that evening. She has given up her dream to become a pianist herself long ago, and seeing her son thrive while looking back on her life evokes all sorts of feelings.

Who made it?

Berlin-based writer and director Jan-Ole Gerster made a major splash with his critically acclaimed debut feature Oh Boy in 2012. It was his graduation film for the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin and became an audience hit, winning numerous national and international awards, including a European Film Award for best debut. Now, seven years later, Gerster is back with his much-anticipated second feature.

What’s special about it?

Lara shares Oh Boy’s single-day format and melancholic tone. Corinna Harfouch delivers a magnetic performance in this intimate and multifaceted examination of a misspent life. Lara can be manipulative and seemingly mean-spirited, but she is also disciplined, ambitious and passionate, and through these contradictions the film gains its emotional power. Gerster brilliantly balances melancholy and humour while contemplating the power of approval or disapproval, and how small remarks may affect us for a lifetime.

See this if you like…

45 Years, The Wife, Gloria, Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve), Child’s Pose (Calin Peter Netzer)

The breakthrough…

Relativity

What’s it about?

It’s love at first sight when Nora and Aaron first meet on a rainy day in an underground station. While she is a dreamer who believes in luck, he is convinced that nothing happens by chance. A bank robbery changes Nora’s life in an instant, and challenges her worldview forever.  

Who made it?

Munich-based Mariko Minoguchi worked in various film related roles and directed a number of short films before founding the production company Trimaphilm (now called Trimafilm) in 2012. Her short Karlstod (2012) was screened at more than 30 national and international festivals and received various awards. Relativity is her feature-length debut as a director. 

What’s special about it?

Are our lives predetermined or does everything happens by chance? These are the big questions that Minoguchi tackles in her ambitious debut, seamlessly shifting between psychodrama, romantic weepie and punchy thriller making clever use of cinema as an unfurling emotional landscape.

Told on three time levels (one of which unfolds backwards), the film is like a puzzle being put together piece by piece to unveil the full plot. Effortlessly looping between the present and past, Minoguchi creates a romantic narrative of philosophical proportions, and with Saskia Rosendahl (Lore, LFF 2012) she found the perfect lead for a woman who lives in constant internal conflict. 

See this if you like…

The Place Beyond the Pines, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Victoria, Amores perros 

The wild card…

System Crasher

What’s it about?

Wild card could not be more suitable as a description for this intense drama about nine-year-old Benni, a ‘system crasher’ who exasperates Germany’s child and welfare system. She dreams of nothing more than being reunited with her overstrained mother, but instead is tossed from one foster home to the next because of her violent behaviour.  

Who made it?

Nora Fingscheidt is this year’s surprise star with her first full-length narrative feature System Crasher representing Germany at the Oscars. Fingscheidt supported the development of the self-organised film school filmArche in Berlin since 2003 before studying at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, winning a number of awards, while also researching System Crasher, which was initially planned to become her graduation film. She’s now based in Hamburg and has an eight-year-old son.

What’s special about it?

From the beginning, Fingscheidt creates an atmosphere of rare emotional intensity alternating between anger, sadness and hope. Where does such a wild child like Benni belong? Who can help her and how she can be supported? Whenever flashing pink images appear on screen, we know that Benni has lost control – and there are triggers provoking those outbursts.

Fingscheidt´s deeply-moving portrait of the vulnerability of childhood challenges conventional attitudes towards innocence, systems of support and, ultimately, the role of the welfare state. Her approach in tackling this topic is courageous, while shining new light on a universal topic.  

See this if you like…

The Florida Project, Wadja, This Is England 

The BFI London Film Festival Festival runs 2-13 October. Find out how to book tickets.

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  • BFI London Film Festival

    BFI London Film Festival

    We’re delighted to announce some great new additions to the line-up. Priority booking opens on Thu 19 Sep to Champions at 10:00 and to Members at...

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