German Film Club
Wednesday, 1 February 2017, 7.00 pm
Auditorium, Kedai Kebun Forum
Jl. Tirtodipuran 3, Yogyakarta
Open for public and free
Director: Marc Brummond, 2012-2015, Drama, 104 min, German with English subtitles
Cast: Louis Hofmann, Alexander Held, Stephan Grossmann, Katharina Lorenz, Max Riemelt, UweBohm
It is the summer of 1968: all that can be felt of the wind of change in the small towns of north Germany is the merest breeze. 14-year-old Wolfgang responds with typical teenage obstreperousness to everyday life, his mother and above all his stepfather. When he is sent by his family to the remote Christian welfare institution Freistatt, he finds himself in a world to which he can only respond with an even greater urge for freedom: locked doors, barred windows, and military drills during the daily sessions of forced labour at the nearby marshes. But for Wolfgang one thing is clear: he will not be burying his yearning for freedom in the marshes anytime soon. A gripping and moving film based on true events. Marc Brummund tells the dramatic story of Wolfgang and his fellow sufferers in extremely powerful images.
Wolfgang doesn’t get along with his stepfather. As the arguments escalate, the 14-year-old boy is sent to a Christian welfare institution that turns out to be a place of brutal oppression, lack of freedom and exploitation. The boys are being used for forced labour at the peat-ditch and are submitted to beatings by their “care workers”. They are so hopelessly isolated that the victims themselves are prone to use violence. The director of the institution prevents the occupants from communicating the truth to the outside world. He intercepts their letters and treats the boys, whom he is supposed to be educating, as prisoners. Those attempting to escape are punished sadistically, yet Wolfgang seeks salvation in freedom. Based on true stories.
Marc Brummund’s film about the notorious educational institution “Freistatt” is based on the reports of former inmates. The mistreatment of young people in Freistatt and other institutions had to acknowledge many years later – even the German Bundestag, when in 2010 the victims were compensated. Against this background, the quotation from a guide to the training of educators of the then Diakonie Freistatt, presented by the director of his story, looks like pure scorn: “The goal of home education is to form the pupil into a Christian personality by educating him to faith and forming the whole man with his natural faculties for the service of love. ”
If there is something the inmates of the institution certainly do not know, then it is love. They are rather brought up to violence and mendacity. The headmastergreets newcomers as a friendly gardener –only to change later into a brutal and selfish tyrant. Wolfgang has to deliver his private belongings like in a detention center. Soon he is beaten for the first time: by the other inmates who have long since internalized the ruling methods of their torturers. Every day, the boys are compelled to work in the peat bite. When they set off, they sing the song “We are the Moor soldiers”. Text and melody, written and recorded by prisoners, were created in 1933 in the concentration camp Börgermoor – a clear reference of the director to the tradition, in which the Freistatt education center and many othersimilar institutions still stood 1968.
A first small and common rebellion, when the guys sing the spiritual “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” in a punk version, remains without result. Again and again Wolfgang gets into trouble because of his righteousness, he is beaten and tortured because of simple human reactions and his repeated attempts to escape. When Wolfgang’s stepfather dies unexpected and his mother finally wants her son back, he cannot adapt anymore to his former life, but only wants to run away from all the people who betrayed him and to find is own way to the outside world.
Marc Brummund was born in 1970 in Diepholz (Lower Saxony). Study of psychology and journalism in Hamburg. 1996 – 1999 Documentary film study in Bolzano. Since 1999 director of numerous advertising films. 2004 – 2006 master class at the Hamburg Media School. Numerous works for television. For FREISTATT, Brummund was awarded the Emder Screenplay Prize and the German Screenplay Prize.
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