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CANNES 2007 Un Certain Regard / Germany

Restoring memories

by 

Another item in the list of German titles reflecting on country’s recent history, Robert Thalheim's second feature film And Along Come Tourists [+see also:
trailer
interview: Alexander Fehling
film profile
]
is part of this year's Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival.

Sven (Alexander Fehlin) is a young German man doing his civil service at the Auschwitz concentration camp – now a Museum and a youth hostel. From this starting point, Thalheim depicts the clash between a living memory of Auschwitz and its current local circumstances, when awareness of the Nazi atrocities seems riskily reduced to tourist services and politically correct tributes.

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One of Sven's tasks is to assist Krzeminski, an elderly Auschwitz survivor, who treats him with a mix of intolerance and superiority. Krzeminski spends his days restoring suitcases that belonged to former Jewish prisoners and holding speeches before bored teenage classes. After an entire life dedicated to a cause, he struggles not to quit, but is continuing worth his while? Perhaps Schindler's List could effectively replace him, he wonders bitterly.

More than a work on personal and collective memory, And Along Come Tourists is a story about a generational legacy and about how the ghosts of the past can haunt younger people (apparently detached from what happened 60 years before). Some young locals cannot help looking at Sven as a potential "intruder" and Krzeminski's friends cannot help kidding him about his German “chauffeur”. Times do change.

Almost unable to cope with the traces of historic wounds and the disappointment of his relationship with Ania (a Polish interpreter eager to move abroad), Sven – like Krzeminski many years ago – still manages to renew his spirit of mission and give a real sense to his civil service. After all, being a conscious objector means truly being conscious of a mission.

And Along Come Tourists was produced by Britta Knöller and Hans-Christian Schmid (director of Requiem [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Hans-Christian Schmid
interview: Hans-Christian Schmid
interview: Sandra Hueller
film profile
]
, see Focus) for Berlin-based 23/5 FilmProduktion Gmbh. Bavaria International is handling international sales.

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