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Feature film
Western

Western
© Komplizen Film, Photo (detail): Iris Janke

Director: Valeska Grisebach | Cast: Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifov, Veneta Frangova, Vyara Borisova | Language: German, Bulgarian, with English subtitles

A group of construction workers from Germany comes to a remote area in Bulgaria to build a hydroelectric power station. They face different challenges; in particular, there is an issue with the water distribution, which also affects the villagers. The locals themselves are suspicious about the arrival of a group of foreigners on their territory. The construction workers, who remain indifferent, worsen the general mood. The situation becomes even tenser when one of the workers flirts with a woman from the village while bathing in the river.

The story revolves around Meinhard (Meinhard Neumann), one of the new workers in the group who no longer has a family. Meinhard, who feels inspired by the challenges of the beautiful village, explores the area and one day comes across a wild horse. It turns out that this horse belongs to Adrian (Syuleyman Alilov Letifov), a respected man in the village. Meinhard and Adrian eventually develop a tight bond that is as intimate as is it usually is among siblings who protect and respect one another – even though they do not understand their respective languages. The closer their friendship becomes, the more Meinhard feels more attached to the villagers than to the workers of his own group. 

For the most part of the film, we see how the actors communicate in Bulgarian and German without really understanding each other – except for some villagers who speak a little German, both because of the shared past of Bulgaria and Germany during the World War I and II as well as their geographical location, since the two countries are not too far apart. As a viewer, we experience every detail of awkwardness, tension, and the language barrier throughout the film, but never lose our own understanding of every event that occurs in the story.

Thanks to the realistic style and rhythmic movements in this quiet story of director Valeska Grisebach, we enjoy every adventure and every emotional shift of the actors who bring their characters to life with extraordinary talent. We feel very close to them and understand the life of the characters in the movie, with all their frictions and tense relationships.
Born in Wonosobo, Central Java, Indonesia in 1985. 

He studied traditional music and communication before falling in love with filmmaking. He is a self-taught filmmaker, alumni of the Berlinale Talent Campus in Germany and the Asian Film Academy in South Korea where he won the BFC & SHOCS Scholarship Fund. Since 2008, he has directed and produced ten short films, which have been highlighted in prestigious national and international film festivals, before making feature films. Another Trip to the Moon (2015), his first feature film, was nominated for the HIVOS-Tiger Award and the NETPAC Award of the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2015. His second feature The Crescent Moon (2015) was nominated for the Asian Future Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2015, and in seven categories, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director at the Indonesian Film Festival 2015, while Talak 3 (2016), a critically acclaimed film that was listed among the Top 15 of Indonesian box-office hits in 2016, was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Indonesian Film Festival 2016. The Carousel Never Stops Turning (2017) is his fourth feature film and was nominated for the Kim Ji-seok Award at the Busan International Film Festival 2017 and officially selected for the Tokyo International Film Festival 2017. His latest works include a short film entitled Woo Woo (or Those Silence That Kills You and Me) and his fifth feature film, a novel adaptation of Arini; both will be released in 2018.

He is a producer and the founder of Matta Cinema, a production house which focuses on producing audience and artistic films by working with unique and creative directors for global audiences. He is also a producer and founder of Bosan Berisik Lab, a non-profit inter-disciplinary laboratory that empowers young filmmakers and artists to create creative and experimental works. He is also one of the co-founders and a film programmer of Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival, a premiere film festival that highlights the development of Asian cinema and is screened annually in the cultural city Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
A group of German builders sets off to work on a building site in the Bulgarian provinces. The foreign land and its rough and largely unspoilt countryside soon give the men a taste for adventure. At the same time, they are confronted by their own prejudices and distrust. Although relations with the inhabitants of a nearby village are difficult – not least because of the language barriers, which at first are virtually insurmountable – Meinhard manages to befriend the locals; yet his colleague Vincent watches the approaches with jealous mistrust. For the two men, the nearby village becomes the scene of a battle for the recognition and favour of its residents.

In Western, Valeska Grisebach has created a haunting culture-clash drama using non-professional actors

Unbelievable tension … The non-professional cast of Bulgarians and Germans gives the film a consistency that literally frees it from fiction. It is rare to find a film with this much physicality, humanity and reality.

Badische Zeitung

 

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Valeska Grisebach was born in 1968 in Bremen, Germany. She studied philosophy and literature in Berlin, Munich and Vienna. She began a degree in directing at the Film Academy Vienna in 1993, one of her teachers being Michael Haneke. Her graduation film Be My Star won the FIPRESCI Award in Toronto and the main award (for best film) in Turin. Longing, her second feature film, was shown in the Berlinale competition section and won numerous international awards. Valeska Grisebach worked for a time as a lecturer at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (German Film and Television Academy Berlin, DFFB).

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