The third German Film Week features

AN ailing teenager and an old horse trainer form a bond as a result of their affection for a wild stallion in the film “Rock My Heart.”

‘Nur Gott Kann Mich Richten (Only God Can Judge Me),’ 2017 (Directed by Özgür Yildirim).
Following his award-winning feature debut Chiko, writer-director Özgür Yildirim returns to the world of petty gangsters — this time on the mean streets of Frankfurt. Moritz Bleibtreu — who also dons the producer’s hat for the first time — stars as Ricky, a small-time gangster about to be released from prison after doing time for a heist which was botched by his brother Rafael and partner-in-crime Latif. Shortly after his release, Latif makes him an offer that seems too good to be true and ultimately too good to refuse. However, the surefire plan is jeopardized by the sudden emergence of Diana, a police officer with a hidden agenda, triggering a nerve-wracking game of cat and mouse.

‘Aus Dem Nichts (In The Fade),’ 2017 (Direcdby Fatih Akin). Katja’s life in Hamburg is completely derailed when her husband Nuri and their son Rocco are killed in a terrorist bombing. She hits rock bottom, starts taking drugs and contemplates suicide. Eventually, the police identify and arrest the perpetrators: André and Edda, a neo-Nazi couple. It was André’s own father, who led the police on the right track. Yet Katja’s hope that the murderers receive their sentence in court is shattered. Following a harrowing trial, in which Nuri’s best friend Danilo serves as Katja’s lawyer, Edda and André are acquitted for want of evidence. Katja is devastated, but soon her desperation gives way to an urge for vigilante justice.

‘Transit,’ 2018 (Directed by Christian Petzold). The German troops are just outside Paris. Georg escapes to Marseille at the last moment. His luggage contains the legacy of a writer named Weidel, who took his own life out of fear of persecution. This legacy comprises a manuscript, some letters and the Mexican Embassy’s assurance of a visa. Only those who can prove that they will leave are allowed in this port town. Assuming the identity of Weidel, Georg tries to obtain one of the few scarce passages on a ship. Talks between refugees take place in the corridors of his small hotel, the waiting rooms of consulates and the cafés and bars down at the harbor. He befriends Driss, the son of his late comrade Heinz, who died whilst trying to flee. But when he meets the mysterious Marie, his plans change. Transit is based on Anna Seghers’ eponymous novel which she wrote in exile. The film is set in contemporary Marseille where these characters from the past move around. And so, refugees from back then meet refugees from today, history meets the present, and all of their stories combine to create one eternal transit space.

“303” tells the story of two people torn between their wanderlust and their longing to finally arrive in their destination.

‘Die Unsichtbaren — Wir Wollen Leben (The Invisibles),’ 2018 (Directed by Claus Räfle). Berlin, February 1943: The Nazi regime declares the Reich’s capital “free of Jews.” At this point, 7,000 Jews have succeeded in going underground. Almost 1,700 will survive the horrors of the war in Berlin. The Invisibles (WT) tells the stories of four of these contemporary witnesses. Hanni Lévy, who has just turned 17, has lost both of her parents. Thanks to her dyed, blonde hair, she is practically invisible to her pursuers, and strolls along the Ku’damm to pass the time away. Cioma Schönhaus has also gone underground and leads an adventurous life that consists of buying a sailboat, dining in Berlin’s best restaurants, and becoming a forger of passports, through which he saves the lives of dozens of other Jews. And while Eugen Friede joins a resistance group that distributes antigovernment leaflets, Ruth Arndt and a friend dream about life in America during the daytime; at night, she pretends to be a war widow and serves black-market gourmet foods in the apartment of an Nazi officer.

‘Leanders Letze Reise (The Final Journey).’ 2017 (Directed by Nick Baker-Monteys). Ninety-two year-old Eduard Leander, a former German officer, has never talked of his wartime experiences, despite the dark shadows they cast over his family. His granddaughter Adele can’t stand the old man. When Eduard’s wife dies her mother tries to move him to a home. But he sets off, instead, to find Svetlana, the woman he fell in love with during the war when he fought with the Cossacks against the Red Army, not knowing if she survived. Sent to remove him from the train to Kiev, Adele finds herself joining him, unwillingly, in his quest. On the way they meet Lev, a Ukrainian of Russian origin, he and his family similarly trapped in the past. Adele falls in love with him, but it is 2014 and conflict between Russia and Ukraine is looming.

‘303,’ 2018 (Directed by Hans Weingartner). Jan believes that people are selfish by nature, so he’s not surprised when the person who was supposed to give him a lift leaves him stranded in Berlin. Jule, however, thinks that people are fundamentally kind and sociable, and she offers Jan a lift in her camper van. They are both heading towards the Atlantic: Jan to Spain, and Jule to her boyfriend in Portugal. They only plan to travel as far as Cologne together, but with every passing mile, they discover more about each other’s lives. Does capitalism turn people into Neanderthals? Does monogamy lead to unhappiness, and can you choose who you fall in love with? A road trip across Western Europe, romantic and hungry for life, about two people torn between wanderlust and the longing to finally arrive.

‘Styx,’ 2018 (Directed by Wolfgang Fischers). Rike is forty, she is a successful doctor whose job demands everything of her. She intends to use her much-needed annual holiday to fulfil her long-cherished dream of sailing single-handedly from Gibraltar to Ascension, a small tropical island in the middle of the Atlantic. Her desire for a carefree holiday seems to be coming to pass but then, after a storm, her beautiful adventure suddenly turns into an unprecedented challenge when she spots a badly damaged, hopelessly overloaded refugee boat nearby. More than a hundred people face drowning. Rike tries to organise help but she increasingly feels that humanitarianism has deteriorated into mere wishful thinking. Wolfgang Fischer’s film depicts a struggle for survival at sea which makes palpable the cruelty of the situation for people in dire straits whose fate is determined by others. The ocean becomes the scene of an allegorical, existential drama.

‘Der Hauptmann (The Captain),’ 2018 (Directed by Robert Schwentke). While escaping from the patrols through the bleak Ems estuary, 19-year-old private Willi Herold discovers the abandoned uniform of a highly decorated Luftwaffe captain. Now masquerading as “Captain Herold,” Willi gathers soldiers around him to complete an imaginary assignment allegedly given by Hitler himself and reveals an unexpectedly dark side to his character.

‘Mein Wildes Herz (Rock My Heart),’ 2017 (Directed by Hanno Olderdissen). Jana has a heart defect that could end her life at any moment. Furious at her fate, she rebels against her illness and her despairing parents. She also rejects a new treatment for fear of the side effects. When she meets the reclusive racing trainer, the 75-year-old Paul and the seemingly wild stallion Rock My Heart, it becomes clear that she is the only one who can work with the highly sensitive animal. Paul convinces her to enter a prize race with Rock, training her to be a jockey. Although at her physical limits, Jana hides her illness from Paul. Not even her parents know of her plans. Even when her illness seems to strike her down, she doesn’t let go of her dreams. She knows it takes courage to race, but it takes even more to say yes to life again.

‘Viel Lärm Um Nick (Forget About Nick),’ 2017 (Directed by Margarethe von Trotta). The only thing that Jade and Maria have in common is their twice unfaithful ex-husband. Because of this legal treachery, the two very different women end up sharing the luxurious loft where Maria once lived, and Jade still clings to as her own. They wage a small war over a very large chunk of New York City real estate, but this is a battle in which words are more valuable and far more entertaining,

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