Film festival GOETHE FILMS: TRANSIT

Transit Film © Piffl Medien, DIF, c. Schramm Film

Thu, 10/14/2021

6:30 PM

TIFF Bell Lightbox Toronto

 Presented by the Goethe-Institut Toronto
at the TIFF Bell Lightbox


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Transit (Germany, France 2018, 101 min.), directed by Christian Petzold (Barbara), starring Franz Rogowski (Victoria), Paula Beer (Never Look Away), Godehard Giese (Babylon Berlin) and others. Based on Anna Seghers’s eponymous 1944 novel.

9 awards including Best Film Dublin International Film Festival and US National Board of Review Top Five Foreign Language Films.

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, and this means you need an entry permit from a potential host country. 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 harbour. Georg 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.


“The stunning Transit is even more ambitious in its treatment of history, conflating past and present to articulate a mournful, urgent appraisal of the contemporary European psyche.”– BFI

“Petzold’s beguiling refugee romance is like a Kafkaesque Casablanca. The director of Phoenix rises from the ashes with another beguiling drama about the specter of fascism.– Indie Wire

“An equally clever and, thanks to the good actors, moving update of Seghers' novel, in which Petzold plays wittily with the temporal levels.”- Film Dienst


Bonus Material: The series is contextualized by a video introduction and commentary by Dr. Tim Cook, Director of Research at the Canadian War Museum. The author of over a dozen books, the historian was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for his contributions to Canadian history and received the Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media. He is a Director for Canada’s History Society, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a member of the Order of Canada. Cook’s new book on medicine in the Great War is forthcoming in September 2022.


Christian Petzold was born in Hilden, Germany, in 1960. After studying German and Drama at the Free University Berlin, he enrolled in Berlin's German Academy for Film and Television (DFFB). In 2000, his first theatrical feature, The State I Am In (2000), about a couple of left-wing terrorists, earned its director both the German Film Award and the Hessischer Best Film Award. By 2012, this prolific creator had added numerous TV films and five additional features, among which female portraits Yella (2007) and Barbara (2012) stand out, which won Best Director at the Berlinale and screened at our own GOETHE FILMS series in 2014. Read more about what influenced the making of Barbara on our blog.

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