Film Screening 19th March, 2016

Poster for Phoenix


7:00 PM, 19th March, 2016

  • M
  • 94 mins
  • 2014
  • Christian Petzold
  • Christian Petzold, Harun Farocki
  • Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf, Michael Maertens

This screening of Phoenix is proudly presented by the Embassy of Germany

Phoenix is based on French crime novel “Le retour des cendres”. The story takes place at the end of World War II, when a young Jewish woman named Nelly returns home to a Berlin in ruins after having spent time in a concentration camp, all the time suspecting that she may have been betrayed by someone close to her. Disfigured and covered in bandages, she is given an opportunity to start a new life in Israel but all she wants is for things to be as they were. She goes in search of her husband, who does not recognise her, but instead ironically asks for her help in playing the role of the wife he believes dead, to assist him in inheriting her fortune.

This is not just a story about Nelly and her difficulty to, as a phoenix, rise from the past; it is also about a country’s struggle to rise from its past. The film happens to be set in Germany, but the hovering between remembering and rewriting history could have been told just as poignantly with many other countries as a background. This is not just a story about the past either: it is a captivating reminder about the present, and how societies deal with the stories that nobody wants to hear or be reminded of.

Directed with a deft hand by Christian Petzold, the film is complex without being complicated. The narrative is clear and full of suspense. It is a thriller, but the many themes covered also make it a psychological, historical and even philosophical drama. Full of references to other movies, images and with an atmosphere reminiscent of ’50s film noir and Hitchcock’s finest – Phoenix is also a film about film.

Joelle Vandermensbrugghe

Poster for A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron)

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron) 

8:44 PM, 19th March, 2016

  • M
  • 96 mins
  • 2014
  • Roy Andersson
  • Roy Andersson
  • Holger Andersson, Nils Westblom, Charlotta Larsson, Viktor Gyllenberg

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is an abstract sketch comedy from Sweden. Think “Monty Python's Flying Circus” but everybody plays it straight and is a bit paler.

There isn't really a story as such, although the sketches are segued into a sort of narrative and the film is anchored by a pair of despondent novelty goods salesmen, whose unsuccessful business ventures and symbiotic relationship form the background to many segments. The film veers wildly, though seamlessly, from relatively straightforward but strange (such as gender-reversed takes on things) to outright bizarre (well, giving that side away would spoil the fun).

A Pigeon is the third film in a thematic trilogy by writer/director Roy Andersson, following Songs from the Second Floor and You the Living. I hadn't seen the others upon viewing this one and can assure potential viewers that not having seen the earlier films will have absolutely no bearing on whether you will enjoy – or understand – this.

Nothing would make this film make a lick more sense and it is all the better for it. This is a must see for anyone amused by being bemused, and who doesn't mind the occasional philosophical question thrown at them to keep them off guard.

Adam Gould