WEST (Westen) Saturday June 7, 6 pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown
Director Christian Schwochow is scheduled to attend.
West is a dramatic love story and psychological thriller set in 1970s Germany, based on the novel “Lagerfeuer” (Campfire) by Julia Franck. Nelly and her son, Alexei, want to leave East Germany and start a new life in West Germany. Nelly pretends to marry a West German, who takes them over the border. Two suitcases, a schoolbag, and a cuddly toy are all they take along. West really starts where other stories end—with a successful escape. Unfortunately, it’s when Nelly makes it to West Germany and applies for émigré status that the authorities take an interest in her. Until this point, Nelly believed that her former boyfriend (and the father of her child) had died, but she learns that in fact, he was a spy. He may still be alive, and what’s more, the police insinuate that Nelly might know something about it. The second half of the film transpires largely within West Berlin’s Marienfelde Refugee Center, where all émigrés take a series of never-ending tests and interviews before they can integrate into society. Some pass through easily, while others remain in limbo for months or even years. West is a realistic drama of a woman trying to deal with humiliation by a system that she hoped would set her free.