Film at Lincoln Center will present Dreamed Paths: The Films of Angela Schanelec, a complete retrospective of the Berlin School filmmaker’s audacious body of work, February 7 to 13.
German director Angela Schanelec’s films have a rhythm and tone all their own—mysterious yet moving, they unearth the metaphysics rumbling beneath the placid surface of everyday life. Her work with actors is like that of no other filmmaker, an untraditional approach to performance that draws on her own background in theater traditions as much as a kind of Bressonian anti-naturalism. Likely the most singular and under-appreciated among the contemporary German filmmakers collectively known as the Berlin School (which also includes Christian Petzold, Thomas Arslan, and Valeska Grisebach), Schanelec makes films that achieve nothing less than the rendering of the human soul on screen.
The retrospective includes a sneak preview of I Was at Home, But… (NYFF57), Schanelec’s enigmatic and elliptical look at a mother struggling to maintain her family following the death of her husband, opening February 14 at FLC. Other highlights of the retrospective include Schanelec’s feature debut My Sister’s Good Fortune, unsentimental and brimming with existential doubt, which centers around a love triangle between a photographer and two half-sisters; the quietly radical and narratively ambitious Marseille, a 2004 Cannes Un Certain Regard selection; the delicately composed The Dreamed Path (ND/NF 2017), which observes two estranged couples from different time periods; and a rare program of Schanelec’s shorts, which span her entire career from her 1994 graduation film I Stayed in Berlin Over the Summer to her contribution to the 2014 omnibus film The Bridges of Sarajevo.
Dreamed Paths: The Films of Angela Schanelec also features a small yet wide-ranging selection of films picked by the filmmaker herself. The carte blanche includes Manoel de Oliveira’s I’m Going Home, a wry portrait of an elderly actor’s reintroduction to life after tragedy; Lee Suk-gyeong’s moving and rarely screened feature debut The Day After; and Maurice Pialat’s devastating portrait of the dissolution of an affair, We Won’t Grow Old Together.
Dreamed Paths: The Films of Angela Schanelec – FILMS
All screenings take place at the Francesca Beale Theater (144 W 65th St) unless otherwise noted.
Afternoon / Nachtmittag
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 2007, 35mm, 97m
German with English subtitles
Schanelec herself stars in her fifth feature, a characteristically sensuous and tense reworking of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. An estranged family of artists meets for a holiday rendezvous at a villa in Potsdam, including selfish theater actor Irene (Schanelec), her psychically fragile son (Jirka Zett), and her sickly older brother (Mark Waschke). Irene struggles to connect with these two fraught figures, and as old resentments and older wounds bubble up to the surface, the family must endure the emotional reckoning it has long deferred. In one of her most visually beautiful films, Schanelec paints the agony and the ecstasy of the familial bond with the soft, warm light of a summer afternoon. 35mm print courtesy of the Goethe Institut-New York.
The Dreamed Path / Der traumhafte weg
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 2016, 86m
English and German with English subtitles
The Dreamed Path traces a precise picture of a world in which chance, emotion, and dreams determine the trajectory of our lives. In 1984 in Greece, a young German couple, Kenneth and Theres, find their romantic relationship tested after his mother suffers an accident. Thirty years later in Berlin, middle-aged actress Ariane splits with her anthropologist husband, David. Soon, these two couples’ paths cross in unexpected ways, short-circuiting narrative conventions of cause and effect as well as common conceptions of the self. Schanelec puts her signature formal control to enigmatic and subtly emotional ends in a film of mesmerizing shots and indelible gestures. A New Directors/New Films 2017 selection.
I Was at Home, But… / Ich war zuhause, aber
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 2019, 105m
German with English subtitles
An elliptical yet emotionally lucid variation on the domestic drama, Schanelec’s latest film — which won her the Best Director prize at the 2018 Berlinale—intricately navigates the psychological contours of a Berlin family in crisis: Astrid—played with barely concealed fury by Maren Eggert—is trying to hold herself and her fragile teenage son and young daughter together following the death of their father two years earlier. Yet as in all her films, Schanelec develops her story and characters in highly unexpected ways, shooting in exquisite, fragmented tableaux and leaving much to the viewer’s imagination, hinting at a spiritual grace lurking beneath the unsettled surface of every scene. An NYFF57 selection. A Cinema Guild release. Opening theatrically at FLC on February 14.
Angela Schanelec, France/Germany, 2004, 35mm, 95m
German and French with English subtitles
An apartment swap between a young photographer from Berlin, Sophie (frequent Schanelec actor Maren Eggert), and a French student sets up a slyly understated narrative experiment in one of Schanelec’s signature films. As Sophie drifts about the port city of Marseille in winter, snapping pictures and fleetingly entertaining the idea of a romance with a mechanic, she begins to feel a sense of release, of being unburdened from the people and everyday dramas of her life back home. But as with any trip, Sophie’s time in Marseille must come to an end, and as she returns, she searches for herself in the gap between the absolute freedom of her vacation and the everyday anxieties and tensions of normal life. Print courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek.
My Sister’s Good Fortune / Das Glück meiner Schwester
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 1995, 35mm, 84m
German with English subtitles
In her debut feature, Angela Schanelec paints a love triangle as only she can—with startling clarity of vision, formal precision, and a peerless sense of the moral and metaphysical dimensions of everyday life. Freelance photographer Christian (Wolfgang Michael) finds himself in love with two women: Ariane (Anna Bolk) and her half-sister Isabel (played by the director), each of them embodying a distinct future. Schanelec takes great care to ground Christian’s trial of the heart in the melancholy and uncertainty of social reality, shot through with doubt and pain, joy and tenderness. Print courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek.
Angela Schanelec, Germany/France, 2010, 35mm, 84m
German, French, and English with English subtitles
In her sixth feature, Schanelec crafts a touching and casually gripping work about human connection, set in the titular Parisian airport. Orly is defined by a mixture of anxious stillness and frantic motion, a film of waiting as much as bustling. Rather than a backdrop for the characters’ micro-dramas (featuring Schanelec regular Maren Eggert and the French actors Natacha Régnier, Bruno Todeschini, and Mireille Perrier), the airport is the stage upon which Schanelec masterfully weaves an episodic tale of everyday life. Moving from character to character, Orly captures something of the socially kaleidoscopic quality of the modern airport, a transient space in which the desires and anxieties of countless strangers come into contact (or don’t) before disappearing again into the distance.
Passing Summer / Mein langsames Leben
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 2001, 35mm, 85m
German with English subtitles
Lives intersect as the seasons slowly change in Schanelec’s third feature, a tranquil drama in which moments of tenderness and awkwardness shared by an ever expanding network of Berliners ebb and flow across a summer full of uncertainty and possibility. We begin by following Valerie (Ursula Lardi), a young writer who has decided not to travel over the summer and to instead settle in her new apartment. Her subsequent encounters with acquaintances and strangers—and their encounters with others—suggest a vast emotional landscape, one in which the characters’ hopes and anxieties are tested by the slow, inexorable passage of time. Print courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek.
Places in Cities / Plätze in Städten
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 1998, 35mm, 117m
German and French with English subtitles
Schanelec’s sophomore feature is a coming-of-age story crafted with her signature sensitivity, absence of sentimentality, and delicate use of cinematic form to convey the pains of becoming. Quiet teenager Mimmi (Sophie Aigner) lives in Berlin with her single mother, but while on a school trip to Paris she falls in love and becomes pregnant, the already complicated path from childhood to adulthood growing ever more obscure. Increasingly drawing upon ellipsis and stylistic austerity to achieve a powerful rawness of feeling, Places in Cities marks a formative transitional point for Schanelec, rendering a familiar genre all the more moving through the delicacy of her compositions and the rhythmic force of her editing. Print courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek.
This rare program of Schanelec’s short films follows the director from her earliest films – including her 1994 graduation film, I Stayed in Berlin Over the Summer – through her contribution to the 2014 omnibus film The Bridges of Sarajevo.
Lovely Yellow Color / Schöne gelbe Farbe
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 1991, 16mm, 5m
This early, Godard-inspired structuralist sketch analyzes an empty apartment by way of a continuous pan as Schanelec’s voice-over narration recounts her uneasiness with her new roommate.
Far Away / Weit entfert
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 1992, 16mm, 9m
This portrait of a young woman’s urban alienation is Schanelec’s lone black-and-white film.
Prague, March ‘92 / Prag, März 92
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 1992, 16mm, 15m
A voice-over reading excerpts from an essay by the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal is accompanied by 16mm footage of Prague.
I Stayed in Berlin Over the Summer
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 1994, 35mm, 47m
Schanelec’s graduation film, starring herself, follows the trials and tribulations of two couples in Berlin, their perceptions of others colored by subjective fantasy and their own positions within an anxious and frequently unforgiving world.
Angela Schanelec, Germany, 2014, 5m
For her contribution to the omnibus film The Bridges of Sarajevo, Schanelec stages a reading by a couple—one in Serbian, one in German—of excerpts from the transcript of the trial of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Duchess of Hohenberg’s assassin, Gavrilo Princip.
Carte Blanche: Angela Schanelec Selects
I’m Going Home / Je rentre à la maison
Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal/France, 2001, 35mm, 90m
French and English with English subtitles
Manoel de Oliveira proved it was still possible to make a signature film at the age of 92 with this wry take on art, aging, and joy in the everyday. Tragedy strikes famous actor Gilbert (Michel Piccoli) when his wife, daughter, and son-in-law are all killed in a car accident, leaving him to look after his young grandson. Yet he continues to work, albeit with a newfound appreciation for the simple things and an aversion to wasting his time on unserious projects. But his new outlook and its burgeoning awareness of the aesthetics of quotidian life are put to the test when an American director (John Malkovich) offers him a role in an upcoming film adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Also starring Catherine Deneuve. An NYFF39 selection.
The Day After
Lee Suk-gyeong, South Korea, 2009, 87m
Korean with English subtitles
Middle-aged writer Bo-young finds herself in crisis: she’s creatively blocked; her ex-husband has remarried; and her daughter is the only one who’s around to provide her something resembling emotional support. She makes for the provinces to attend a weekend workshop, and while there meets another woman whose life story sounds eerily familiar. The two spend the night in a hotel room drinking, smoking, and talking, finally giving voice to their repressed desires, their disappointments, and anecdotes they’ve never shared with anyone else. Lee Suk-gyeong’s feature debut is a casual yet emotionally profound work on the social roles we play that prevent us from being ourselves.
We Won’t Grow Old Together / Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble
Maurice Pialat, France/Italy, 1972, 35mm, 110m
French with English subtitles
Maurice Pialat’s autobiographical classic of anti-romantic cinema is a harrowing account of a relationship in freefall. Selfish, boarish filmmaker Jean (Jean Yanne, who won the best actor award at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival for the role) has been having an affair with Catherine (Marlene Jobert) for years behind the back of his rarely present wife (Macha Méril). But the ever dwindling likelihood that Jean will leave his wife has taken its toll on the lovers, and what follows is an unforgettable, emotionally no-holds-barred succession of breakups and makeups, violent ruptures and reconciliations.