Welcome to Germany, foreigner! We like to call you “Ausländer”, because we find it very important to stress that you are from a country that is not ours. Our politicians create words like „Armutszuwanderung“ (poverty migration) to underline that you might be poor and needy, expecting Germany to help you. If you’re from Bulgaria or Romania, we mock your migration with expressions like „Sozialtourismus“ (social tourism) to make the nation aware that you only come here to profit from our social system. If your skin is black, we will ask you where you are really from, no matter if you were born here or if you are a war refugee. And, oh yeah, black man, be prepared for a large scale police operation on the subway if they find you without a ticket. You might be late for your meeting with the Senate.
Before the American award season comes to full bloom, we already have a winner as far as the non-existent category of best film poster is concerned: it’s the shadowy and hardly visible silhouette of Bruce Dern’s head on the beautiful poster of the magnificent film Nebraska. With his hair uncombed and thinning and his face but a mysterious line as if posing for a paper cut, this image of Dern couldn’t be more fitting for a film about a man who is very recognizable yet full of secrets, some of them part of the dark shadows of his past.
Some films are just too strange and beautiful to explain them. The Strange Little Cat is one of them. I just read a friend’s advice: “Don’t read anything about it beforehand, just go see it!” That’s what I did. So I decided not to write anything about it, for you to just go and see it. And just write down some simple phrases in simple English and try to seduce you to watch a film I have by now watched three times and could watch over and over again. A film like no other film you have seen before. Surely. A strange little film. A magical little film. The Strange Little Cat.
One of the great things about cinema is that it becomes your reality for the length of a film, no matter how surreal or fantastic, weird or artificial it presents itself. In the case of animated pictures you are even looking at a painted reality which can still be more touching and thrilling, exciting and, in fact, close to life than a regular film. This week’s film tip, Alois Nebel, was made with the special method of roboscobing, which consists of taking previously shot real film material and repainting it (almost) frame by frame and then putting it together as an animated film. The result of this is visually stunning. What’s more, Alois Nebel is the translation of a story that is taken from a graphic novel, originally set in the real world and then put into a very special film.
Ursúla Guðmundsson likes to polish her nails. She says it’s important because her hands are very precious to her. We watch her carefully apply the polish on her 80-something year-old hands and we realise that she is trying to match the pink with her lipstick and her outfit. When Ursúla was a young woman, her hands bled from the manual labour she did and hurt from the washing powder she used to handwash the clothes of 13 people every week. Ursúla Guðmundsson was born Ursula Quade and emigrated from Germany to Iceland after the Second World War. She is one of six enigmatic older women that director Heike Fink portrays in a beautiful film that talks about a little known part of German migration.