This September, in spite of all the challenges of our COVID times, the Filmkunstmesse celebrated its twentieth anniversary here in Leipzig. Over 700 people from all walks of movie life attended over 100 preview screenings. Across Passage Kinos, Schauburg and Cinestar, cinema proprietors could take a look at what the could screen in the months ahead. We were there for you and can now present the cream of the crop, what to look for in the months ahead on the silver screen.
In this round-up we get to present three great films by three masterful female directors with three differently outstanding performances by female leads. From German and US up-and-comers to bonafide stars going out of their comfort zone: these films all offer up new and daring approaches to familiar themes and topics.
Julia von Heinz’s contender for this year’s Golden Lion in Venice is an energetic, captivating Antifa thriller. Protagonist Luisa, a law student with a wealthy background, radicalizes herself against the growing far-right movement in Germany led by AfD. The film does miss a lot of opportunities, both in failing to capture an accurate portrayal of Germany’s leftist scene and in painting the far right antagonists as more than just vague archetypes of hate.
However, von Heinz’s muscly, pulse-pounding direction and a fantastic performance by the lead Mala Emde make the film a successful thriller and a captivating watch, regardless of your political interest or orientation.
Miranda July’s newest film is unique on so many levels. Her emotional approach to film-making is contrasted by two of the most brutally unemotional characters in recent cinema history. Portrayed by silver-screen legends and LeipGlo favorites Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger, their eccentric criminal activities are always at the expense of their only child Old Dolio (so named after a homeless person who won the lottery, whom they hoped to scam out of his winnings).
Kajillionaire excels in highlighting and feeling with the emotional trauma and pain that such unloving and egotistical parents can bring upon their child.
In spite of this dour subject, thanks to July’s light touch and unique skills, this tale unfolds much more entertainingly than it has any right to be. That is in large part due to the central performances by Evan Rachel Wood as emotionally stunted Old Dolio and Gina Rodriguez as the outsider who cares. Kajillionaire is a very odd movie but the vision of director July is so fleshed out and the performances so strong and precise that it will win most people over by the time the credits roll.
Luckily already playing this week in Leipzig theatres, Eliza Hittman’s small, powerful teenage drama deservedly won the Grand Jury Prize of the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlinale. The heart-breaking story of a small town, teenager whose unwanted pregnancy forces her to embark on a long, challenging journey to New York packs such an emotional punch it leaves you reeling even after the credits. It may therefore not be the ideal afternoon distraction. But if you are open to an honest, unflinching look at the cruelties and uphill climbs disadvantaged young women have to face on daily basis, this little production leave a big impression on you.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the 20th Filmkunstmesse Leipzig and keep checking our Movie Showtimes to find all the original screenings of this year’s entries in the coming weeks and months.