Saturday, February 14, 2015

Notes On Coming Of Age, by Teboho Edkins, South Africa/Germany: 2015-Berlinale 2015-IX.-Generation14plus

A documentary which takes place in the Highlands of South Africa and which is an observation of two young brothers and two teenage girls. It is an inhospitable place to live and it is winter. But again we have impressive images of a geographic and a human landscape. The female leader of this community pleads for progress and for education of the young people. Beside this we still see traditional rituals like initiation rites for young men, in this film the elder brother.
And we can almost feel the freezing air of this winterly mountain landscape.
The film remains a fragmented look to this piece of world. But suddenly we see glimpses of beauty.
Two teenage girls try to maintain their friendship when one of them goes to another school. Like in the finest film by German documentary filmmaker, we always feel that the protagonists know that they are filmed. As we are making our image of them, they seem to react in establishing their own image of themselves.
The film this observation of certain people in certain situations caused by the environment they have to live in comes close to Wim Wenders´s ideal defined in his film Tokyo-Ga” to film without the pressure to have to proof something”. In Rainer Gansera´s film on André Bazin, Eric Rohmer says, that the things we see in a film have to unfold and speak for themselves. In the case of Coming Of Age, we do not see a film which is beautiful made but a film where beauty arises in front of our eyes.
The distance, reduction and even discretion can be in cinema often an overblown attitude. In Coming Of Age the people, the landscape and the things unfold themselves in a natural way. The camera and the whole apparatus of cinema seem to have only one purpose the encourage this self unfolding of the things happening in front of the camera. And such a distant discreet attitude does not exclude a certain tenderness.
The shy smile of these girls who know that they are filmed, stays in my memory. The separation of this two girls, the 15 years old boy who can´t go to school because he has to bring the flock of sheep through the winter – are elements, small hints for a drama which will develop further in our imagination. Coming Of Age reminds me in another kind than Nikolaus Geyrhalter´s wonderful Über die Jahre (Over The Years, Forum) in the finest film by one of Germany´s greatest documentary film maker Peter Nestler.
What makes the joy to watch this film even greater (especially during a film festival) is the simple and undoubtedly fact that the most sophisticated and most cinephile audience of the Berlin Film festival you find exclusively and only during screenings of the Children-and youth films.
Rüdiger Tomczak

Sat, Feb 14, Zoo-Palast  12.30
Sun, Feb15,Cinemaxx 1 14.30

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