Football, Love and Other Matters

in 25th Filmkunstfest Schwerin

by Christine Deriaz

Football, at least in Europe, is considered the most important of minor matters. It reflects social structures and hierarchies, it’s a substitute battlefield, and it’s a global metaphor. So, no wonder three out of ten – and two of them award-winning – films at Schwerin use football in one way or the other.

First, the main award-winning The Goalie – That’s Me (Der Goalie bin ig) by Sabine Boss. The story is situated in the late 80’s in a small Swiss village, where the characters have known each others for years, with their hierarchy and social structure established in their childhood when they were all playing football together. Those structures, shown in flashbacks, still affect the present. And little by little those football-playing flashbacks reveal the problems the main character has in the present. His loyalty, his penchant to assume responsibility, all this already existed during their childhood football matches in backyards, and he, the goalie, is the only one to stick with loving memory to them. To all the others he is what he always was, the scapegoat. So by untangling his footballing past, he finally manages a way out of what seemed to be his fate.

Next is Nachspielzeit by Andreas Pieper, which won a special mention, and portrays football as substitute battlefield. Unemployment, bull market speculators, migrants and neo-fascists predominate in Neukölln, a Berlin neighborhood. It’s the story about social clashes, about speculators using the latent prejudices for their purpose and two main characters belonging to opposite social groups and to opposite football teams. Their paths cross on different occasions, exploding in excessive violence during a football match. In the end the two opponents realize that the true enemy is the speculator, and refuse to be played off against each other – an explosive end which unfortunately is not the end of the movie. The end after the end is a TV-show ending, where everybody is everybody’s friend.

And last, A Final (Ein Endspiel) by  Lilli Thalgott, with the world championship final as acoustic background. The film is some kind of experiment, the characters created but having to develop their own dialogues, and with this the progress of the story. The football only serves as timeframe or as a reason to stay in the same space frame, from time to time bringing back the action to some kind of focus. But all together the experiment is more a radiophonic play than a movie, the actors too busy creating and responding to be physically credible in their characters, the five cameras visibly of different quality and their action range too limited, all this leaving too little space for interesting visual work.

Fast cars and speed, almost iconic cinema subjects, are the background for Driften by Karim Patwa, who was awarded best director. During an illegal car race a little girl is run over and dies. The young driver, now out of prison, tries to live with his remorse, trying to change his life. The constantly moving, breathing camera reflects the protagonist’s inner feeling, his trying and failing, in a film the dramatic strength of which is composed of the brilliant performance of the two main characters (Max Hubacher and Sabine Timoteo), the camerawork and editing and the underlying sound design.

There is football, cars, and speed, but the most iconic of all subjects in cinema is love.

Love, deception, fear and betrayal got Alice Dwyer the best actress award for her performance in Ma Folie by Andrina Mracnikar. In fact the award should have gone to both leading actors. A young couple (Alice Dwyer and Sabin Tambrea) start some kind of amour fou, which little by little turns out to be an obsessive and psychotic love the young woman tries to escape from. But the young lover stalking and haunting her, and even her friends seem all to be, at least, not completely honest. The change in feeling from complete love and trust to betrayal and horror is reflected not only in the play of both actors, but also in slight changes of perspective so that the spectator, like the character, loses faith in what she sees.

And then, of course there’s the FIPRESCI award-winning Schmidtke, a film not fitting any of the categories mentioned above – but that’s another story.

Edited by Carmen Gray