Director: ROBERT THALHEIM
In this pleasantly laconic story about a young German who befriends a stubborn, grumpy concentration camp survivor and falls for a Polish interpreter, Dir. Robert Thalheim (Netto – winner of the Max Ophüls 2005 prize and a MSPFF entry) proves that it is possible to talk about Auschwitz from today’s perspective in an intelligent, emphatic and edifying way.
Auschwitz wasn’t what Sven, a young German, had in mind when he signed up to do his civil service abroad. For him, it’s not the camps alone, but a small town in Poland, a strange language, a concentration camp, all the musty grayness of high-school German history classes. To make matters worse, he ́s got to care for an unpleasant old man, Stanisaw Krzemiñski, a former inmate who never left the camp and now spends his time either giving contemporary-witness lectures or repairing suitcases.
Krzemiñski ́s world revolves around the suitcases taken from the Jews as they arrived at the concentration camp from all over Europe. Besides having to endure Krzemiñski ́s haughty, gruff manner, Sven also has to put up with the barely concealed contempt of various locals. Luckily, there ́s Ania, a young guide who lets Sven stay at her place… Yet within this push and pull of conflicting sensations spawns a love for Ania, compassion for Krzemiñski, and the troubling, challenging realization about his own role in preserving the memory of this place. In its small way the film has garnered high prestige in Germany as it attempts to address buried issues. It has also been nominated for the top German film of the year. Our thanks to the Goethe Institute of Chicago for providing the print.
GERMANY • 2007 • 85 MINUTES • DIRECTOR: ROBERT THALHEIM