Through 29 November
dir Angelina Maccarone
Having seen Unveiled, one of her previous films, I was keen to see this latest work from the prolific writer/director Angelina Maccarone and it didn't disappoint. Family relationships, loneliness, Christmas Eve, a road trip to Rotterdam.... From these various strands she has crafted a subtle, complex and delightful film shining a light on the things people often keep hidden from themselves and others.
Francesca and Antonietta are two squabbling siblings stifling in their small town until Antonietta runs away to Rotterdam to join her musician boyfriend on tour. Francesca, a stand-in parent for her since their mother left and their father went to pieces (this character spends much of his screentime mumbling in Italian and German and is truly sorrowful), follows her in her cab and encounters a car-crash victim along the way. This is the mysterious Gerlinde (a resplendent Hannelore Elsner), who is having woman troubles in a big way.
Francesca finds herself attracted to Gerlinde and also responsible for Antonietta and the film takes unexpected turns as these three characters try to sort their lives out. While the film starts from Francesca's point of view, it retraces its steps to show the same scenes from the other two characters, and also fills in the backstory, giving depth to the character's actions. Very impressive.
After the Fall
dirs Frauke Sandig / Eric Black
Less story-driven but brilliantly shot is this documentary, a retrospective piece from 1999 looking at the Berlin Wall ten years after its fall. Sandig and Black focus a lot on images and gradually a story emerges of how people view the wall now, how they viewed it from opposite sides pre-unification and then, most bizarrely, how opportunists are seeking to preserve and make money from it.
This last strand features the most bizarre array of characters, including Bavaria's answer to Del-Boy, a man with a "recycling machine", who is extremely frustrated by the refusal of German museums to buy pieces of the wall from him.
In possibly the funniest scene, he plays his accordion while recounting how he stood in the former Death Strip making a toast to the wall with various officials.
However, this pales in comparison to the appearance of the two homeopaths from Tunbridge Wells who explain how the dark energy emanating from the wall makes a useful but dangerous remedy. Every word out of these people's mouths sent the audience into raptures of merriment. It was not a great advert for alternative medicine.
Anyway, the film looks beautiful, with many dusk and dawn shots of Berlin under (re)construction in the late 90s and some thought-provoking commentary from an historian about the way the east was left behind and had its history consumed by the western part.