Achim Bornhak – Der Nachtmahr AKA The Nightmare (2015)

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After a night of partying in a mansion with a swimming pool, teenager Tina starts to experience weird things. She hallucinates a violent deja-vu, and hears discomforting sounds. At home she is haunted by a mysterious creature that only she can see. The film suggest several explanations for her visions. Is she overly tense? Psychotic? Drugged? Jealous? Her parents and friends seem to think she is going through a phase. Tina is convinced that the creature is for real, and she starts identifying with in a way that prompts her parents to take drastic measures on her behalf.

DER NACHTMAHR (“the nightmare”) is best characterized as an atmospheric thriller or indeed like a dream: at times feverishly slow, at other times restless and shifting. A vibrant electronica-soundtrack and superb acting from Carolyn Genzkow in the leading role makes it a captivating film experience. Continue reading

Tobias Nölle – Aloys (2016)

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Aloys Adorn is a middle aged private detective who lives and works with his father. He experiences life from a safe distance, through a video camera he keeps recording 24 hours a day, and the massive collection of surveillance tapes he organizes and obsessively watches at home. But when his father dies, Aloys is left on his own and his sheltered existence begins to fall apart. After a night of heavy drinking, Aloys wakes up on a public bus to find that his camera and precious observation tapes have been stolen. Soon after, a mysterious woman calls to blackmail him. She offers to return the tapes if Aloys will try an obscure Japanese invention called ‘telephone walking’ with her, using his imagination as their only connection. As he is drawn deeper and deeper, falling in love with the voice on the other end of the phone, the woman opens up a new universe that may allow Aloys to break out of his isolation and into the real world. Continue reading

Federico Fellini – La città delle donne AKA City of Women (1980)

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Marcello is in the compartment of an Italian train, facing forward when the mineral water of the woman seated across from him starts to fall toward him. He catches the bottle and makes eye contact and follows her when she leaves the compartment. For a few moments she finds him attractive too. Then suddenly she gets off the train and starts walking through a field. Marcello follows her, loses her, finds himself in a large hotel surrounded by women. A feminist conference is taking place and he tries to escape. Continue reading

João Nicolau – John From (2015)

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Rita has it all. She is 15 years old and the summer is ahead of her. She floods the balcony floor and splashes about while soaking up the mighty sun. She has an ex-future boyfriend and an ever-present best friend. She braids her hair and goes to parties.
Naturally, from Portugal to the South Pacific, this whole fortress gently falls apart when Rita visits the exhibition put on by a new neighbour in the local community center. Continue reading

Andrzej Zulawski – Na srebrnym globie AKA On the Silver Globe (1987)

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Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski is best known for his anguished monster flick Possession, which featured Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani as a married couple spiraling toward domestic meltdown. His films are aggressive shrieks of madness, doomed love, trance-state convulsions, and shrieking emotional upheavals. The octopus creature that materializes halfway through Possession, completing the film’s bizarre love triangle, transports a fairly naturalistic, if explosive, kitchen-sink drama into the realm of magical realism; Zulawski swore that his 1981 masterwork was partially autobiographical, coming as it did so soon after a vicious and harrowing divorce. Continue reading

Mara Eibl-Eibesfeldt – Im Spinnwebhaus (2015)

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Jonas is already head of the family at just 12 years of age. He has been helping his two younger siblings and supporting his mother, Sabine, since his father left. Sabine is very loving towards her children but she often loses her patience and disappears into her room for the day. Mysterious demons drive her to spend a weekend away to relax in the “sunny valley”. But the weekend grows into weeks in which the three children hear nothing from their mother. Food and money have long since run out, the house has become more and more like a haunted castle: a spiderweb house. Jonas tries his best to maintain the appearance of an intact family. On the hunt for something to eat, he meets a young man, Felix Count of Gütersloh, who speaks in rhymes and declares himself to be not quite right in the head. Rather like a guardian angel, he takes Jonas under his wing and shows him how to get by in a world without adults. The film is less a social drama than a modern-day fairy tale shot in black and white. The audience is immersed in the eerily beautiful world of the children which unfolds its own particular magic. Continue reading

Wim Wenders – In weiter Ferne, so nah! AKA Faraway, So Close! (1993)

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In Faraway, So Close! angels watch over the people of Berlin. The world weighs heavily upon these men and women. Their attachment to things diminishes their desire for the invisible. As one angel laments, “It’s so exhausting to love people who run away from us.”

Despite the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the people of Eastern Europe are anxious about the future. The angel Cassiel, played by Otto Sand, feels great compassion for them. When a young girl falls from the balcony of her high-rise building, his urge to do good is so strong that he crosses over into humanness and catches the girl in his arms on the street. All he loses in this change of existence are his wings and ponytail. Continue reading