And finally there is a really strong German movie in the competition of this year’s Berlin Film Festival. And it is the only German movie participating. And it deserves at least a prize for best actress. Julia Jentsch is going through hell and back with playing Astrid, a young mother who finds out that her next child will see the light of day with a Down syndrome. In “24 Wochen”, by director Anne Zohra Berrached, Astrid (Jentsch) and her husband Markus, decide that they want the child. When they find out later that it will also have heart complications which will need several surgeries, the young pair is torn between decisions, between giving and taking a young child’s life. In the end, they decide to have an abortion while she is in her seventh month and we get to see every detail in the surgery room, complete with the little needle that will go directly into the heart of the unknown little creature.
Julia Jentsch is fulfilling this role as best (can you say best under these circumstances?) as you can imagine. Nobody wants to be in a position like hers so it is hard to comprehend what’s going on in a mother’s heart, mind and soul with such a heavy burden. Both Jentsch and Bjarne Mädel show a fascinating portrait of a pair with all of their quarrels and heartbreaking decisions that need to be taken. Half of the room during the press screening had to swipe away their tears and there was a lot of sobbing in the audience. It is a real intense movie. And definitely one of my favorites so far.
A much lighter, and yet also dramatically and emotionally enduring movie is André Téchiné‘s latest, “Quand On A 17 Ans” which portrays two 17-year olds in rural, mountainous France. Damien and Thomas are developing a longing, loving, relationship after many moments of rejection, loss, and failures. They can’t stand each other at the beginning but the way Téchiné is slowly but surely giving away Damien’s desire and his coming out is really subtle and gentle. And both Kacey Mottet Klein (Damien) and Corentin Fila (Thomas) are superb in their roles as adolescents who must somehow cope with their mutual attraction. Playing another central role here is Damien’s mother (Sandrine Kiberlain) who is responsible of bringing the two closer together and who is the guide and bond for her son and tells him to show more trust in himself and others and in life. It is a touching movie with spellbinding landscapes showing us all seasons in the beautiful mountains.