Anna and her teenage daughter Iris live in an apartment building that stands on its own in the middle of a large golf course, cut off from the surrounding fields by a barbed wire fence. It is highly desirable place to live, a safe and secure bastion against what seems to be a dangerous and chaotic outside world. Anna is the security officer here, an important position in a place that is subject to strict rules and regulations. When caretaker Gertie‘s dog disappears, fear and mistrust spark among the residents. A few neighbours form a vigilante group to find the person behind what soon is considered a certainty – that the dog was murdered. Anna tries to call the inhabitants to reason but finds that the mood is starting to turn against her.
In her much-lauded debut feature, director Natalia Sinelnikova takes us into a world that is strangely dystopian and familiar at the same time. She keeps us in the dark about what is on the outside in order to fully focus on the disintegrating social microcosm on the inside. She does so with an acute sense of the absurd and a good portion of black humour, allowing us to view the proceedings (happening in precisely styled and exquisitely photographed settings) with some distance and bemusement. Yet she doesn’t spare us the chill of recognition: the need to survive doesn’t bring out the best in people, not even in Anna. But Romanian actor Ioana Iacob, who also had a role in our January Goethe-Kino film Till The End of the Night
, pulls us on Anna’s side, making the precarious situation of the outsider palpable.
Germany / Romania 2022, colour, 94 mins. With English subtitles.
Directed by Natalia Sinelnikova. With Ioana Iacob, Pola Geiger, Jörg Schüttauf, Şiir Eloğlu, Moritz Jahn, Susanne Wuest, Knut Berger, Mina Özlem Sagdiç, Cristin König, Jörg Pose.
Natalia Sinelnikova was Born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), the former Soviet Union, in 1989. At the age of seven, she emigrated to Germany with her family. In 2013, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in cultural studies with a focus on photography and theatre from the University of Hildesheim, going on to study film directing at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf. Her graduation film Weeping Willows (Trauerweiden) had its world premiere at the Moscow Jewish Film Festival. The filmmaker is a member of the Jewish artists’ network Dagesh. We Might As Well Be Dead (Wir könnten genauso gut tot sein) is her debut feature film and premiered as opening film of the Perspektive Deutsches Kino at the Berlin Film Festival in 2022. (Source: Catalogue of the 72. International Film Festival Berlin)