By Sascha Krieger
Ich war zuhause, aber (Competition / Germany, Serbia / Director: Angela Schanelec)
What an opening: a dog chases a rabbit across a meadow. Casually. Later it eats the rabbit inside, a donkey walks in and looks out of the window. A dream? A vision? A nightmare. Nightmarish is the world in Angela Schanelec’s radical new film. A family coping with the loss of the father as we later find out. A mother, a run-away son, a daughter. everyone is as if sleepwalking. Images antiseptic and rigid, movements painfully slow, shots unbearably long. Every word – and they come in pretty late in the film – seems fought for. A class is playing scenes from Hamlet, motionless, emotionless. A boy wearing a prince’s crown, seeks a home in supermarket depot, a couple debates about the meaning of love and life and children. Sleepwalkers all, zombies. Ich war zuhause, aber is relentless in its formal rigidness. When the mother (Maren Eggert) freaks out at her kids, breaks the pauses and monotony for a moment, it’s almost a relief. It’s a film like a trauma, a collective one or are we on the inside of the woman who once argues with a film director about truth and lies? Good, bad, true, false, words whose meaning eludes these sleepwalkers. But still they chase them, want to grasp them, each other, themselves. This world is in shock, suspended between life and death, removed from the natural cycle, in shock, in grief, at a standstill. The donkey can look out into the world, they can’t. At the end, a slow walk in a river, the boy carrying his sister. Where? No-one knows. But the idea that there might be a where for them, that the rest is not all silence as Hamlet claims, that there might be an order to all those loose ends, perhaps suggests something like, well, hope?