News from the Locarno Festival


Concorso internazionale




The Tower of Babel painted by Bruegel the Elder and shot at Wien’s Kunsthistorisches Museum represents both the idealism and the catastrophe that change the story of Nora in Jan Speckenbach’s second feature. Her first action is to take off the headphones of her audioguide and leave the guided visit of the museum. These are small steps completely new to her, the beginning of a path against the tide that starts with one of the most scandalous of actions, the infraction of the maternal taboo: the abandonment of her children. The U-turn life change that drives her into the opposite direction of both social conventions, as well as against the migratory tide from the Balkans. A timeless private affair permeated by a contemporary political push: Berlin, Vienna, Bratislava and even more East and South, she travels without documents, selling family jewels, looking for a job and hospitality, placing her few things in a plastic bag to clandestinely cross a river. Or maybe the sea. This is the horizon of the new migrant Babel told by a physical and enigmatic performance by Johanna Wokalek that makes memorable this character who is also trying to escape the clichés of German cinema, which has recently been portraying many female protagonists as imprisoned in their roles. In this case, Nora rather has her roots in a deeper “German soul” between Mahler and Dietrich, and which significantly, just like Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade and more recently Western by Valeska Grisebach, is looking for a future and new stories to tell not in the heart of Europe but rather in the East.

Sergio Fant

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