You there, at the back of the class, focus! Hot on the heels of this year’s French Film Festival UK (still ongoing), we’re treated to another European cinematic tour, as FOKUS: Films from Germany comes to Scotland. Back for its third year running, the festival presents a diverse array of films united by a common theme – the struggle and search for somewhere, someone or something.
This time, the Edinburgh Filmhouse and the Goethe-Institut Glasgow have teamed up to bring their programme to the whole of Scotland, including screenings in Aberdeen, Ayr, Bo’Ness, Dundee, Inverness and the Shetland Isles. Below are four of our favoured picks from the schedule, but the entire array of titles is available online now.
Michael Koch / Germany, Switzerland / 2016 / 100 mins
Michael Koch’s feature-length debut features as its protagonist Marija, a Ukrainian woman living on the fringes of society in Dortmund. She ekes out a living as a hotel maid, all the while harbouring grander dreams of owning her own hair salon… but all that goes up in smoke when she’s fired without notice. Will she return to her motherland, tail between legs? Or fight for a better life, regardless of what it takes to get there?
Soleen Yusef / Germany, Iraq, Qatar / 2016 / 117 mins
National and familial conflict collide in this highly intense personal drama, following three siblings as they reunite after the death of the matriarch. Iraqi-born, German-raised, the trio have drifted apart over time, but now must fulfil their mother’s dying wish – to be buried alongside her husband in their native Kurdistan. Mounting tensions between the siblings are reflected in the increasingly unstable region, making for a nail-biter of a road movie.
Christian Petzold / Germany, Poland / 2014 / 98 mins
Nelly Lenz escapes from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp at the end of the Second World War, but not without severe disfigurement. After undergoing heavy facial reconstruction, she finds that she’s no longer recognisable to those who were once closest to her – or, perhaps, to herself. Unable to let go of her past life, she tracks down the man she once loved and becomes embroiled in a dark world of duplicity and deceit.
Marc Brummond / Germany / 2015 / 104 mins
The swinging sixties – while everyone else in Germany and abroad is experimenting with new substances, enjoying ever-freer forms of love and protesting atrocities committed in the Vietnam War, 14-year-old ragamuffin Wolfgang is sent to a gruelling foster home for problem kids. With an overbearing headmaster whose devotion to dogma borders on the psychotic, Wolfgang struggles to retain his individuality and identity in the face of an oppressive regime.