Directed by Leonore Kasper | Review by Antonio RozichFrom German Expressionism to NeuerDeutscher Film (New German Cinema) and finally today. It seems German filmmakers always knew how to approach a social issue in a creative and unusual way. Today, this especially goes for the indie filmmakers in Germany. Unlike their mainstream counterparts, the German independent cinema kept certain aspects of their predecessors and injected it with a few upgrades. These upgrades come from the general cinema influence and it mostly has to do with technical parts of a film. But the heart remains the same: real-life stories about social issues with a hint of the unusual.
The short film Ana, directed by Leonore Kasper is a perfect example of this. Just in 7 minutes, the film manages to envelop both the bitterness of life and the solace of a dream. The film starts with a woman returning back home at night. As she enters her building, she notices a commotion. An immigrant named Ana and her brother are being deported and in the ruckus, everything slightly takes a weird turn. The police officers freeze, Ana starts chanting a mantra, and the brother starts to dance.
Sounds weird and makes you ask “What the hell?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone, I had the same thought. And the reason you might ask this is probably the same as it was for me. More than often, when we read weird film summaries like the one for Ana, it turns out the film is garbage. As much as it is easy to come up with an unconventional and “artistic” story, that much times 10, is harder to properly turn the idea into a great film. Still, every now and then a director appears that manages to untie this Gordian knot and then something wonderful happens. The audience gets a refreshing and original film; something that takes them far away from conventional and repetitive stories. Leonore Kasper managed to do just that with Ana.
Make no mistake, this short film could’ve been better (everything can always be better). I’m not saying Ana is a masterpiece, but the sheer fact it managed to combine the usual and the unusual, the black and the white, is enough for you to give a warm applause when the credits start to roll.
Deportation in currently a big problem in Europe, especially Germany. Generally, issues usually have two sides – the classic “good vs evil story”. But when it comes to this specific problem, there are no good and bad people – there are just people. People who worry about their own safety and the problems arise when two paths cross.
Finally, underneath it lays the root of all the problems: depersonalization of the subjects for the sake of getting the job done. The more you convince yourself the immigrant isn’t a person who like you just wants to feel safe, the easier it is to ignore and get the job done. Ana goes straight to the root and here’s the real reason why the unusual element works. We can say in the entire film we have 3 different personas. The first is Ana and her brother as the immigrants. The second one is the officers trying to deport them. And the third persona is the woman as the random bystander. As the film slowly comes to the end, notice how the roles are distributed amongst these 3 personas. How with the change of the viewpoint, the dominance of the characters changes as well.
Maybe changing the viewpoint really is all it takes to realize people are not just a document?
While he isn’t writing for Cult Critic, Antonio Rozich is working as a copywriter for a filmmaking startup called Try Cinema. Besides his usual copywriting, he also helps filmmakers with their screenplays by editing them and finding the ways to improve the initial filmmaker’s idea. When all of that is done, he turns to his true & original love: writing flash fiction, which he posts regularly on his site Syeta Stories.