Oldenburg goes for Distance
by Bénédicte Prot
21/09/2009 - The 16th Oldenburg International Film Festival (September 16-20) closed yesterday after hosting over 15,000 viewers and showing 76 films from 20 countries in its ten sections. At the closing ceremony, the German Independence Award (the event’s only prize) was presented to German film Distance [trailer].
The international selection at the festival, which is otherwise completely non-competitive, so as to give free expression to all types of film, screened 19 titles. These included Sherry Hormann’s UK film Desert Flower [trailer], which recently moved audiences at the Venice Festival (see review); MR73 [trailer] by France’s Olivier Marchal; Marina de Van’s Cannes contender Don’t Look Back [trailer]; Benoît Jacquot’s French/Swiss co-production Villa Amalia [trailer], starring Isabelle Huppert; and Aleksandr Buravsky’s UK/Russian film Leningrad.
In the Independent Selection (which also presented Dirty Mind [trailer] by Belgium’s Pieter van Hees and Snow White and Russian Red [trailer] by Poland’s Xawery Zulawski), the jury for the German Independence Award for Best German Film (worth €8,000) found its winner: Thomas Sieben’s Distance.
This debut feature, starring Viennese actress Franziska Weiß (who appeared in Jessica Hausner’s Hotel [trailer] and Michael Glawogger’s Kill Daddy Good Night [trailer]), Ken Duken (Max Manus [trailer], 1 1/2 Knights and Til Schweiger’s forthcoming film) and Josef Heynert, opened the German section at the latest Berlinale, and screened at the Istanbul, Edinburgh, Karlovy Vary and Montreal festivals.
Written by the director, Distance tells the story of a gardener who secretly and completely arbitrarily commits acts of great violence. Things get complicated when his new girlfriend discovers what he is capable of.
Produced by Berlin-based Grand Hôtel Pictures GmbH, the film won over the jury with the intensity of its acting and camerawork, the interesting opposition between love and an irresistible, dangerous force and the empathy it manages to elicit for a real sociopath.
Anne Høegh Krohn’s Liebeslied, starring Jan Plewka and talented actress-director Nicolette Krebitz, received a special mention.
The audiences’ favourite was Judith Krant’s US film Made in China.
(Translated from French)