The Wall (Die Wand)

A woman joins a couple on a trip to a hunting lodge in the mountains. When evening comes, her friends go the pub in the valley and the woman stays behind with the dog. When the couple does not return the next morning the woman sets out for the village and makes an alarming discovery: an invisible wall, behind which there appears to be no sign of life, now separates her from the rest of the world. Left behind with a dog, a cat and a cow, she must try to survive alone in the forest. She keeps a record of her thoughts, her fears and the hardship she suffers although nobody might ever read her outpourings. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival]

Shores of Hope

In this vivid historical drama set in 1980s East Germany, two dockworkers and best friends who dream of escaping the repressive regime are forced to choose their loyalties when the state police promise them safe passage out of the country — if they inform on their co-workers and union leader. (TIFF)

Calm at Sea

October 1941. Eighteen months into France’s occupation by German troops, young Communist members of the Resistance shoot dead an officer of the German Army. In retaliation, Hitler demands the deaths of 150 Frenchmen, as ‘retribution’. The targets are to be mostly young men believed to share the assassins’ political convictions. Most of these men are taken from an internment camp for opponents of the occupation; a 35-year-old French rural administrator is ordered to select the victims. Although the parish priest appeals to their conscience and moral sensibilities, both the German military and their French helpers slavishly follow their orders … [Synopsis courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival]

Barbara

Summer, 1980. Barbara, a doctor, has applied for an exit visa from the GDR (East Germany). Now, as punishment, she has been transferred from Berlin to a small hospital out in the country, far from everything. Jörg, her lover from the West, is already planning her escape. Barbara waits, keeping to herself. The new apartment, the neighbors, summertime, the countryside – none of that means anything to her. Working as a pediatric surgeon under her new boss Andre, she is attentive when it comes to the patients, but quite distanced toward her colleagues. Her future, she feels, will begin later. But Andre confuses her. His confidence in her professional abilities, his caring attitude, his smile. Why does he cover for her when she helps the young runaway Sarah? Does he have an assignment to keep track of her? Is he in love? But as the day of her planned escape quickly approaches, Barbara starts to lose control. Over herself, her plans, over love.

Condition (Die Lage)

In September 2011, Pope Benedict XVI visited Germany. If the press was to be believed, the whole country was gripped by Pope mania. One of the stops on his trip was Erfurt.
The images Thomas Heise shows us of this visit don’t resemble in the slightest those seen for days on end on every channel. Cool black and white replaces the incense-heavy hues of Catholicism, the omnipre sent Pope gives way to police, security guards, a nervous state premier, snipers, first aid teams and all those required by protocol. Everyone dressed in the appropriate costumes, suits and uniforms rehearsing the meticulously planned grand arrival at Erfurt airport.
The usual state visit commotion, you might say. But the titular condition can relate to the details of the Pope’s visit as well as the description of a more general state. The slogan of the 2011 Catholic Diaspora Day can be seen on the door of Erfurt Cathedral: “We are all together in our beliefs”. Erfurt in 2011: in the midst of Thüringen’s Catholic enclave, in what used to be East Germany, the film also evokes the sort of promises of collective happiness no longer held in such high regard. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival]

Home for the Weekend (Was bleibt)

On the request of his mother Gitte, Marko, who has been living in Berlin for years, drives off to the countryside to visit his parents. His hopes of spending a quiet and relaxing time with his family fall short when Gitte surprises everyone by revealing that she has recovered after a long mental illness. Marko is the only one who respects her wish from now on to be treated as a full member of this family and, as a result, ends up tipping more than just the delicate balance of his parent’s seemingly harmonious relationship.