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This review was made after a screening at Cambridge Film Festival (UK)
15 to 25 September 2011 * Contains spoilers * To-night's screening
was attended by director Verena S. Freytag, and she spoke to the Festival's own Verena afterwards, answering questions from the audience (which is a true privilege for a viewer).
Mine elicited that she had not intended to have a music soundtrack, but, having met a violinist (he plays other instruments) three times by chance in Berlin, and then learned about his work, he composed for the finished edit. (I felt that the score worked very well with the emotion of the changing scenes, adopting at least twice the simple motif of a quiet sustained note that abruptly heralded silence: the song whose lyrics I had thought to have been always central had not been.) I also gathered that the film had been edited from around 180 minutes to 102, with the result, Verena said, that the complexion of what happened after the initial location in Berlin had changed much.
As the other Verena commented, Maryam Zaree's performance as a hard-pressed mother (Pelin) was very strong, and I found that Tilla Kratochwil's Christa, for all that she seemed dominating and hidebound, gave her real scope for being near someone with different experiences and for them to learn from each other.
However, I am not quite sure that the trajectory of Pelin's story is really as set out in the Festival brochure (and I do not know where in life she may be heading at the close), but she certainly desires to change her position, if she can be allowed to do so - that is one of the very heartening things about this film, that we are shown her being given a chance, and also that healing and forgiveness can take place. Alongside those things, we also witness self-interest being a motivating force, and the fact that trying to shake off past ties brings new problems.
Thinking about the issues that lead to the family's seaside placement made me wonder whether the story could have fitted in the UK. The concerns portrayed would certainly have brought the same attention to bear on Pelin's behaviour as a mother, and she might, if very lucky, have had a social worker who was prepared to work with her to make things better for her children on the basis of a profession, and evidence, of a willingness to change. Even some sort of respite is sometimes possible (but maybe not so easily on the coast, because of funding), so this is not a scenario unique to Germany and not, say, Cambridge, but perhaps what it would miss is the tendency to a specially German propriety about how life should be conducted.
That, however, is not what I shall take from this film: Maryam's expressiveness (and the fatigue with which she battles), her care, however wayward, for her children, her interactions with Chista, and her sheer exuberance when she breaks the rules and goes out dancing - oh, and her utter convincingness as someone who tattoes ('inks') others and believes in herself and in that sort of statement.
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