Wars and suffering, conflict and fear – social and political themes that are an integral part of media reporting and thus of our everyday lives are the main themes of this year's films. Regardless of whether the intensity of the effects of military policy on the citizens of Middle Eastern countries or the joint reappraisal of the National Socialist past is addressed – nothing brings viewers closer to the crises of the past, present and future than strong political films. They can document stirring events and record them for posterity or tell fictional stories about personal conflicts of affected families and refugees waiting for asylum – the tragic possibilities are endless. But they all carry an important message: international and intergenerational cohesion between people.
A selection of the films:
A PORTRAIT ON THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS
Director: Benjamin Rost (Germany, South Africa 2020, Documentary)
A huge desert, behind it a deep, cold sea. A field of debris, torn open like a field. Beneath it, deep under the earth: the purest diamonds in the world. A group of young men begins to dig for the tiny stones with their bare hands. Day and night. A new diamond rush in South Africa. A poetic journey through the desert, the sand and the wind.
Director: Christopher Stöckle, Paolo Tamayo (Germany 2020, Documentary)
Germany gets a large part of its coal from Colombia. But there is blood on this coal. El Samario, a former paramilitary soldier, talks about the countless murders he committed on behalf of international coal suppliers.
Director: Stéphane Goël (Switzerland 2020, Documentary)
When Jacques Dubochet receives the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, his life changes. Out of the shadows into the light, he is suddenly contacted from all sides. What can he do with his voice, which is now heard by everyone? How should he, as a 'noble citizen', fulfill his responsibility as a researcher and human being? A speech by Greta Thunberg turns everything upside down.
DAS ZELIG / CAFÉ ZELIG
Director: Tanja Cummings (Germany 2020, Documentary)
Every week, last Holocaust survivors from all over Europe meet in Munich's Café Zelig. There is much laughter, celebration and political argument, but also silence and mourning. Some of them, including their children, make their way back to their past, to their old Polish homeland, and they show us how difficult it was and is to find their way back into life – in Germany.
DIE GRAZER GRUPPE / THE GRAZER GROUP
Director: Markus Mörth (Austria 2020, Documentary)
A group of loners. Not a clique, but a loose bunch. United not so much by being a “group” as by the will to promote the knowledge of reality with poems, stories, dramas against a false sense of home. The documentary aims to present a chronological inventory of 60 years of Graz literature on the foundations of experimental art and socio-political commitment.
DIE HEIMKEHR - LEBEN NACH DEM TERROR / THE RENEGADES - A LONG WAY HOME
Directors: Mariam Noori, Lisa Maria Hagen (Germany, Austria 2020, Documentary)
Meral from Hamburg is looking for her little brother, a missing IS follower. Oliver from Austria, a 21-year-old ex-terrorist, is looking for his way back into society. Both are connected by a fateful photo.
EINE HANDVOLL WASSER / A HANDFUL OF WATER
Director: Jakob Zapf (Germany, UK 2020)
Konrad, 85, is a grumpy old man. And now his daughter wants to adopt the children of her lesbian friend. He just doesn't like that! When 10-year-old Thurba, who is running away from the authorities because of the imminent deportation of her family, seeks refuge in his basement and he injures her with a nail gun out of fear of an alleged burglar, he gets into trouble himself. Thurba is injured and has nowhere to go – the young girl touches the old man and a solution must be found...
With Jürgen Prochnow, Milena Pribak, Pegah Ferydoni, Anja Schiffel
ENDJÄHRIG / END-80
Director: Willi Kubica (Germany 2020)
When the so-called "Endjährigkeit" – the forced death assistance when reaching the age of 80 – is introduced in Germany, a father and a son are forced to put their broken relationship to a final test.
With Peter Meinhardt, Matthias Lier
Director: Hubert Sauper (Austria, France 2020, Documentary)
A haunting and metaphorical portrait of a utopian and post-colonial Cuba, echoing the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana in 1898. This Big Bang put an end to Spanish domination and heralded the American era. At the same time, a powerful tool of conquest was created: the propaganda film. Together with the extraordinary population of Havana – especially with the children – the film sheds light on a century of interventionism and the creation of myths and asks questions about time, Imperialism and film itself.
FIVE FINGERS NO SAME
Director: Regina Wiebe, Johanna Reimann (Germany 2020, Documentary)
The film tells the stories of young people from Pakistan and Morocco who left their homeland with the European dream in mind. Between hope and lethargy, everyone is stuck for the moment in Bosnia in their own way.
Director: Mohanad Hayal (Iraq, Qatar 2018)
It is the year 2006 and Baghdad is plagued by sectarian violence. Haifa Street – the epicenter of the conflict – is besieged by killers and snipers for unclear reasons and political affiliations. Ahmed is dropped off there by a cab. He is on his way to the house of his beloved Suad, whose hand he wants to ask for in marriage. But he is shot by the frightened young sniper Salam, who experiences his own personal hell on a roof above him.
With Ali Thamer, Iman Abdulhassan, Rudhab Ahmed
Director: Aurélien Froment (France, Spain, Belgium 2020, Animation)
Totally overwhelmed by the onslaught of republicans fleeing the Franco dictatorship, the government decides to place the Spaniards in concentration camps. There they have no choice but to build their own barracks, eat the horses they have brought from their land and die by the hundreds because of the lack of water and hygiene. In one of these camps, a friendship develops between two men separated by barbed wire. One is a policeman, the other is Josep Bartoli (Barcelona 1910 - New York 1995), a fighter against the Franco regime and an illustrator.
KÖNIG BANSAH UND SEINE TOCHTER / KING BANSAH AND HIS DAUGHTER
Director: Agnes Lisa Wegner (Germany, Ghana 2020, Documentary)
Céphas Bansah comes from Ghana and lives in Ludwigshafen on the Rhine. In Ghana he is king for about 200,000 members of the Ewe, in Ludwigshafen he runs a car repair shop.
KRISE IST IMMER / CRISIS IS ALWAYS
Director: Dan Dansen (Germany 2020)
KRISE IST IMMER depicts the politicization of a young woman. In the midst of (anti-)feminism, right-wing populism and precariousness, a tender narrative of solidarity and friendship is created between the young Laura, her best friend Aylin and the mid-60s non-binary trans person Tamara.
With Lea Ostrovskiy, Mariann Yar, Dieter Rita Scholl, Astarte Posch
Director: Anna Thommen, Lorenz Nufer (Switzerland 2019, Documentary)
Touched by the wave of refugees, volunteers travel to Greece to help the people arriving in boats. What they experience on the beaches and in the camps changes their lives forever. Back in Switzerland, they are torn between their former secure lives and the urge to get involved in politics. The film shows the birth of a citizens' movement that defends the humanitarian values of Europe.
Directors: Monica Lăzurean-Gorgan, Michaela Kirst, Ebba Sinzinger (Austria, Germany, Russia 2020, Documentary)
From the Taiga in Siberia to the primary forests of Romania and the primeval forest in Peru: worldwide, billions are made from the illegal felling of wood. Alexander von Bismarck, great-great-great-nephew of the Iron Chancellor, has been on the trail of the timber mafia for years. As head of the Environmental Investigation Agency in Washington, he is tirelessly on the move. The situation for the planet's "green lung" has long since taken on dramatic proportions. The film follows von Bismarck and his comrades-in-arms into the hell of greed for profit and back again.
ZU DEN STERNEN / TO THE STARS
Director: Nicolai Tegeler (Germany 2019)
Decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, singer Marco Hoffmann has reached the peak of his popularity. But suddenly the ex-frontman of the GDR rock band "DIE KOSMONAUTEN" is accused by his former band member Volker Hinze of having ratted him out to the Stasi. The conspiratorial meeting of the former blood brothers turns into a dispute about life and death.
With Florian Martens, Günter Barton, Margrit Sartorius, Alma Rehberg