- Germany serves as an open-ended destiny, a promising future and a lifeline for the teenage main character in this sensitive Spanish-Argentinian co-production directed by first-timer María Zanetti
Unspooling in the Horizontes Latinos section of the 71th San Sebastián Film Festival, Alemania [+see also:
interview: María Zanetti
film profile], the feature debut by Argentina’s María Zanetti, is another addition to the myriad titles that already constitute something of a sub-genre: that of girls who are confronted by their imminent coming of age and, therefore, by all the attendant contradictions, confusions and heartaches of the adult world.
In this case, the main character is 16-year-old Lola. On her luminous and extremely expressive face, one can discern the hopeful anticipation inherent in this age. For this reason, she practises behind the wheel of a car in the hope of getting her driving licence and gets a nose piercing, but she also goes out to clubs at night and starts to flirt with a boy, intrigued by sexuality and all its mysteries. However, her older sister’s psychological problems dampen the atmosphere at home and hang like a black cloud over her future. Indeed, it’s only her excitement about travelling to Germany, to immerse herself in the experience of a student exchange, that enables her to see tomorrow in a positive light.
For Lola, this European destiny thus becomes a kind of wonderland where she can begin a new life, far from the family problems that stifle her and miles away from the shadow of the ominous mental illness that casts darkness over her days: because as the years go by, will she herself turn into a carbon copy of her sister?
The film also paints a portrait of three generations of women: the grandmother, played by Spaniard Vicky Peña, who dishes out pearls of wisdom such as, “When your head is ablaze, love is not enough”; the mother (played by Argentinian actress and dancer María Ucedo), who attempts to tackle her daughters’ problems respectfully, fairly and affectionately; and the teenager herself, brought to life by Maite Aguilar, who, at that age when doubts and immaturity swirl, allows herself to be dragged around way too often by the desires of others instead of her own.
With the camera getting up close and personal to the faces of her performers, Zanetti builds a small, ultrasensitive and intimate film, cramming in much of her own life experience, as it is indeed dedicated to her brother Mariano, who, after a 17-year mental illness, took his own life at the age of 44. However, Alemania is not a sad film; on the contrary, it is – narrated from an adolescent perspective – a love letter to her family, a celebration of resistance, affection and resilience that unfolds during a time prior to the digital revolution, when cassette tapes were a vehicle used to pass on songs, emotions and feelings.
Alemania is a production by the firms Tarea Fina (Argentina) and Solita Films (Spain). In 2021, while at the project stage, it took part in the Europe-Latin America Co-production Forum at the San Sebastián Film Festival, where it won the Artekino International Award. Its international sales are overseen by Meikincine Entertainment.
(Translated from Spanish)
Photogallery 26/09/2023: San Sebastián 2023 - Alemania
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