David Gulpilil takes centre stage to tell his incredible life story in intimate documentary My Name is Gulpilil

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-26/david-gulpilil-documentary-my-name-is-gulpilil/100156218

ABC Arts / 

By Annabel Brady-BrownPosted Wed 26 May 2021 at 4:37amWednesday 26 May 2021 at 4:37am, updated Wed 26 May 2021 at 3:42pmWednesday 26 May 2021 at 3:42pm

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man in shearling coat taking off his akubra, in the documentary My Name is Gulpilil
The film homes in on Gulpilil’s magnetic performances, from his breakout role in Walkabout to his turns in critically acclaimed films, including Rabbit Proof Fence.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

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In early 2017, when the legendary actor David Gulpilil was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer and advised that he had only months to live, he told filmmakers Molly Reynolds and Rolf de Heer that he wanted to make one more film.

He wasn’t well enough to appear as planned in Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s revisionary western, High Ground — he requested that his role be taken by Yothu Yindi’s Witiyana Marika, who is a close relative.

But the three decided “that the best way we could go forward was to do his life story, right until the end,” Reynolds says.

The result is My Name is Gulpilil, an intimate documentary about the actor squaring with the end of his life.

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man standing in a hospital corridoor, in the documentary My Name is Gulpilil
Gulpilil has been living more than 3,000 kilometres from home in Arnhem Land, as he receives treatment for lung cancer and emphysema.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

“This film is about me. This is my story of my story,” he says at the outset.

Moving between hospital visits and scenic excursions through the South Australian landscape, the film interweaves footage of Gulpilil speaking direct-to-camera with news archives and clips from his movies, reliving his astonishing half-century on screen.

“I like to show my face to remember,” he says.

Viewers are taken on a bittersweet journey — from his debut in the 1971 Australian New Wave classic Walkabout, through some of the country’s most popular and critically acclaimed films, including Storm Boy, Mad Dog Morgan, Crocodile Dundee and Rabbit Proof Fence.

Refreshingly, the movie clips are presented without title cards that name the directors, as the documentary instead homes in on Gulpilil’s magnetic performances.

‘I’m an actor, I’m a dancer, I’m a singer and also a painter.’

My Name is Gulpilil is likely the final entry in a fruitful, two-decade collaboration between Gulpilil and the white Australian filmmaker Rolf de Heer and his partner Reynolds, which started with the Yolngu actor’s phenomenal lead role — his first — in The Tracker in 2002.

Play Audio. Duration: 15 minutes 57 seconds
Listen: David Gulpilil and Rolf de Heer

Over the four films they’ve made since then — which are widely held up as examples of best-practice collaborative filmmaking — Gulpilil has increasingly asserted creative control over his story.

He initiated and narrated Ten Canoes (2006) — the first Australian feature entirely in Indigenous language — and co-wrote and starred in the semi-autobiographical drama Charlie’s Country (2013) and the follow-up essay-documentary Another Country (2015).

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man in a white singlet out in the forest on 2013 film Charlie's Country
Charlie’s Country won Gulpilil the Best Actor award at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard section and the AACTA Awards in 2015.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

It’s fitting, then, that My Name is Gulpilil sees him occupy centre stage.

“It’s like, ‘Over to you, David,'” says Reynolds, who directed the film. 

“It’s a fabulous progression, for all of us really.”

Reminiscing direct to camera, Gulpilil recounts his youth as a tribal man from the Arafura Swamp region in Central Arnhem Land, and how it was his talent as a ceremonial dancer that led the British director Nicolas Roeg to “discover” him as a teen and cast him in the biblical desert horror Walkabout.

The experience ignited Gulpilil’s love for cinema and his abiding diva-like delight in front of the camera.

As he said in his 2004 one-man stage show, “Acting came natural to me. Piece of piss. I know how to walk across the land in front of a camera, because I belong there.”

Walkabout toured the world, which took the Yolngu teenager out of his ancestral home and catapulted him into the European film world — and Hollywood-level excess.

Actor David Gulpilil, an young Yolngu man in traditional paint dancing, in the 1971 film Walkabout
At the time Gulpilil was cast in Walkabout, non-Indigenous actors were still being cast as Indigenous characters. (Supplied: ABCG Film)

He amusingly relates some of his adventures: dining with the Queen, carousing with Dennis Hopper, partying with Muhammad Ali and getting high for the first time with Bob Marley. It was the start of a lifelong balancing act for Gulpilil — straddling two worlds, Yolngu and Balanda — and the documentary emphasises the great personal toll this took.

He’s sober these days, but he speaks openly about his well-publicised substance abuse and his time living in the long grass in Darwin.

“Drinking all this grog, smoking all this tobacco, smoking all this ganja. I ended up good in prison every day in Darwin,” he says.

The film uses audio clips from news reports that run through his numerous convictions, including one for domestic violence in 2011, after he broke his wife’s arm.

“I forgot about her,” he says. “Because I was a drunken, drunken man.

“I’m a drug and alcoholic.”

‘No one else can do the life of me, it’s only me. I can do the life about me.’

Unlike other biographic treatments, such as Darlene Johnson’s 2002 documentary Gulpilil: One Red Blood, or Derek Rielly’s 2020 book Gulpilil, there are no other interviewees or talking heads.

“People, usually whitefellas, sort of speak for or about David,’ says Reynolds, explaining the reasoning behind the “clear choices” that she and David made about how to present the documentary.

“David is the consummate performer, the consummate artist, actor. I thought, ‘What happens if he just spoke for himself?’

“I knew David’s capacity to deliver. I thought, ‘He can hold the screen,'” she says. 

Filmmaker Molly Reynolds,  a white woman in red hat and glasses, and David Gulpilil, the Yolgnu actor and dancer in an akubra
“The terrific thing was that throughout this project we developed a real affection, love and regard for one another,” says Reynolds.(Supplied: ABCG Film/Bonnie Paku)

“David really embraced that, because there were no intermediaries at all. He could just look straight down the lens, and speak it as he saw it. 

“Having said that, he’s also an actor and he likes having a director to support his work.”

Needing to stay close to doctors and hospitals, and too sick to travel to Arnhem Land, Gulpilil is observed living in a modest house — kitted out with posters of his films — in Murray Bridge, east of Adelaide, with his indefatigable carer Mary Hood.

Before each shooting session, Reynolds and Gulpilil would discuss what he wanted to talk about that day.

“I quickly learned to be a different director to what I’d normally be,” she says, describing her role as “sort of the brains trust who holds the information”.

“I was there to support his performance, even though his performance was really him.”

The interviews would run for hours. 

“Then he’d just conclude somehow so poetically, and ‘boom’, we’ve got it.”

Tying the film together into effectively one long interview, the unhurried monologues allow the viewer to really listen, and to sink into the rhythm of Gulpilil’s storytelling.

‘I like to make a film, it’s a history. I like it because it won’t rub out.’

Gulpilil’s role extended far beyond being the star interviewee.

“One day he called me up,” recounts Reynolds. “‘Molly, Molly,’ he said. ‘What I’d like to do is, I want you to wrap me in our film, in my cemetery box.'”

She had to break the news to him: “David, we’re shooting digital, not 35mm … but I got the image he was evoking, and that was really poetic, so we did end up shooting it,” she says.

The shot shows Gulpilil lying inside a coffin with his eyes closed, resting on a bed of unfurled analogue film – one of several dreamy images that appear in the documentary to suggest he is confronting his own mortality, and which often foreground his connection with the land.

“He’s got a true sense of cinema,” says Reynolds.

Actor David Gulpilil, an older Yolngu man standing on empty train tracks, in the documentary My Name is Gulpilil
The film is in English and Mandhalpingu and was filmed and produced on Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Andyamathana Lands.(Supplied: ABCG Film)

The new film sees Gulpilil credited for the first time in his career as a producer — alongside de Heer and his Ten Canoes co-director Peter Djigirr.

Reynolds describes Djigirr as “critical to everything we do with the Yolngu mob up there… He’s been involved in every single film we’ve made in Ramingining.”

Acting as a kind of “pivot point” between the filmmakers and the community, Djigirr also ensured that everything was done in accord with cultural protocols and traditions.

There was another crucial, if sombre, reason for his involvement, says Reynolds: “There was the expectation that David would be dead by the time we finished. So we wanted someone who … would be able to look at the film and determine how David would feel about it.”

That Gulpilil is still alive to see the finished film, walking the red carpet at the Adelaide Festival for the premiere in March, is a surprise twist ending.

“It felt so right that it worked out this way,” says Reynolds.

“One thing that pleases me about the film, for David, is that I think it has cemented his legacy,” she says. 

“It’s the culmination of all that he has done.”

‘This film will remember to generation to generation.’

In 2002, academic and cultural commentator Marcia Langton said: “David has been absolutely critical to both representing Aboriginal people in modern Australia in the cinema … and also, in his own ironic and charismatic way, undermining the stereotypes that were forced on him. He’s a tremendously important person to us culturally.”

Reflecting on this important role, Reynolds says, “I don’t think Australia yet appreciates [David’s contribution] enough.”

“And I really, really do hope that, on behalf of all of us, whitefellas and blackfellas alike, that we do get to that point.

“My Name Is Gulpilil may just be a reference to help us get there.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/vK1DLvEkvtA?feature=oembedYOUTUBEMy Name is Gulpilil trailer

Ai Weiwei’s new film goes behind the scenes of the Wuhan lockdown

https://www.dw.com/en/ai-weiweis-new-film-goes-behind-the-scenes-of-the-wuhan-lockdown/a-54707798

The Chinese artist’s latest documentary, “Coronation,” was filmed remotely by a team of amateur Wuhan filmmakers. Ai Weiwei spoke to DW about how an authoritarian state stopped the COVID-19 outbreak in its tracks.

After three years in Berlin, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei now lives in Cambridge in the UK, but his latest film, Coronation, is set in the Chinese city of Wuhan as it undergoes a draconian lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Using footage filmed by citizens after the Chinese state locked down the city on January 23, Coronation observes the militarized and often brutal nature of the government-enforced quarantine until it was lifted in early April. It also reveals its efficiency in stopping the spread of the virus. 

In an exclusive written interview with DW, Ai Weiwei shared his thoughts about the making of the film, and whether he believes the pandemic will fundamentally change society. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3R3ZWV0X2VtYmVkX2NsaWNrYWJpbGl0eV8xMjEwMiI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJjb250cm9sIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1298220655540920320&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dw.com%2Fen%2Fai-weiweis-new-film-goes-behind-the-scenes-of-the-wuhan-lockdown%2Fa-54707798&sessionId=ebdb295618c75728c41e29c6e7fdc010931326be&siteScreenName=dwnews&theme=light&widgetsVersion=82e1070%3A1619632193066&width=550px

DW: What was your motivation for making Coronation?

Ai Weiwei: As with most of my activities, the motivation for making Coronation was to try and gain a deeper knowledge of a new and unfamiliar incident, such as with the Sichuan earthquake in 2008 and the refugee crisis in 2015. I wanted to provide a first-hand experience in understanding China and the Chinese people and how they responded to the coronavirus. Under these dramatic conditions, we can better understand the politics and humanity of any society. 

Ai Weiwei: New film a window into understanding Chinese society

What was the biggest challenge directing a film from a remote location?

With today’s technology, remote directing a film is possible. The biggest challenge for a director when approaching a subject is the concept. 

Read moreAi Weiwei’s presents his ‘Manifesto without Borders’

You can see in the film that young people, nurses and doctors and other health professionals came to Wuhan within days on buses. China is probably the only nation that could achieve that with such speed and spirit. You can see how the state built the infrastructure, including the emergency field hospitals, and equipped those on the frontlines with the necessary rescue equipment. Those details surprised me and are a profound revelation of human behavior under authoritarian control. 

We also managed to show how they recruited those young people into the Communist party and the celebration after the lockdown was lifted. Those positive, objective parts about a very highly controlled authoritarian state are difficult to film. 

You can see another person, a construction worker who came to Wuhan to assist the emergency effort, prevented from leaving the city. He attempts to navigate this typical Kafka-esque bureaucracy to get out. Unfortunately, we later learned Meng Liang managed to return home to be with his family, but he had financial issues and decided to hang himself. A tragic and banal story about life in these times. 

How did you make sure your Chinese crews were safe?

I cannot make sure anyone is safe. I gave them daily instruction and they have the absolute choice to film the way they think is safe. They are all equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and instructed on necessary medical protocols. Still, [it] could have been very damaging for the people filming. So we asked them to send out the material every day through the internet to protect those materials. We did not know what we had until we started to review and to edit. Most of the cameramen are amateurs, and this is their first time working on a film.

A still from ‘Coronation’: Wuhan’s deserted train station

You have often critiqued China for its strict policies. What would be your critique at present?

China, as an authoritarian state, has been the most efficient in taking on a situation as challenging as a pandemic. In doing so, China’s suppression of human rights, individual rights, privacy, and personal will has been heavy. Basically, China has consumed everyone’s liberty into its own power. That is the basic character of this nation’s fast development and how it has closed the gap between itself and the West. It has worked very well over the last 30 years. 

At the same time, China has created a society which has no trust, the controlling party has never gained legitimacy through the people’s recognition but rather through police force, heavy propaganda, and by limiting balanced information. The Chinese state and its population do not trust each other but the state must be obeyed because maintains control through law and violence.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.462.0_en.html#goog_2042824759Volume 90% Watch video06:21

Ai Weiwei says China is subjected to ‘extreme’ censorship

Instead of strictly cordoning off Wuhan, could there have been a more appropriate response to the initial coronavirus outbreak?

They made a good decision to seal off Wuhan. China has another 100 cities of similar size to Wuhan. If they [had not limited] the travel to and from the root city in this pandemic, we would [have seen] a true humanitarian disaster. At the same time, the method of sealing the city should not have been through literally sealing off people’s doors, placing people in detention, or hiding the truth about the situation. This has caused a great panic. 

Read more‘Wuhan Diary’: 60 days in a locked-down city

Before the authorities sealed off Wuhan on January 23, there was a month or two when they knew the coronavirus was human-to-human transmissible. They covered up the number of infected and the death toll. 

Do you think that societies will be forever changed due to the pandemic?

I am very pessimistic about what we will learn from this. I think that things will return to normal, people will simply take off their masks and throw them away into the rubbish bin. I don’t think people will learn that much in general. Even if they have learned something, it will be superficial, like what has happened in China. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Michael Moore Presents: Planet of the Humans

“Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America. This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It’s too little, too late. Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business. Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, “green” illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end—and we’ve pinned all our hopes on biomass, wind turbines, and electric cars? No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine”). This urgent, must-see movie, a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows, is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late. Featuring: Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Robert F Kennedy Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Van Jones, Vinod Khosla, Koch Brothers, Vandana Shiva, General Motors, 350.org, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nature Conservancy, Elon Musk, Tesla. Music by: Radiohead, King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Blank & Jones, If These Trees Could Talk, Valentina Lisitsa, Culprit 1, Patrick O’hearn, The Torquays, Nigel Stanford, and many more.”

Ursula Knechel’s ‘Landgericht’, review by David Vickrey

http://www.dialoginternational.com/dialog_international/2018/01/review-ursula-krechels-landgericht.html

Landgericht

This is what David Vickrey writes:

“I’ve always been interested in Exilliteratur – books by or about writers and artists forced to flee Germany during the Nazi era.  Much, of course, has been written about the exile community in Southern California – including Michael Lentz’s terrific Pazific Exil (2007). Anna Seghers wrote about her exile in Mexico in Ausflug der toten Mädchen, and many of Hilde Domin’s poems deal with her exile years in the Dominican Republic.  But very little has been written about the German exile experience in Cuba – which is one reason I was keen on reading Ursula Krechel’s Landgericht (literally “District Court”), which won the German Book Prize in 2012.  The central figure in the novel, the Jewish barrister Richard Kornitzer, is forced to flee the Nazis and finds sanctuary in Havana for ten years.

But Landgericht is also about homecoming – returning to the “scene of the crime”, to the country that cast Kornitzer out and wrecked his family forever.

Life was good for Kornitzer and his wife Claire in the Weimar Republic.  He was a talented young lawyer and judge with a brilliant career ahead of him, while Claire was a successful businesswoman, with her own advertising agency that created and placed ads in the booming German cinema.  Together they lived in a chic apartment in central Berlin and had two children.  But things quickly went downhill once the Nazi’s came to power: Kornitzer was forced out of his job and could no longer practice law, Claire, although of Aryan background, had her business stolen from her because of her marriage to a Jew (which she refused to renounce).  Soon it was clear that Richard and the children (Halbjuden) were in mortal danger.  The children were sent to England via the Kindertransport  while Richard was able to secure safe passage to Cuba – without his wife Claire.

Ursula Krechel takes the reader back and forth in time.  The book opens with Kornitzer’s return to a ruined Germany after 10 years in exile, hoping to resume his career where it had been suspended by the Nazis.  He is given a post in the provincial civil court in Mainz – a city that had been 95% destroyed by the allied firebombing.  And the descriptions of the deprivations of those early postwar years are well done.  Kornitzer quickly learns that the Third Reich never really ended: his colleagues on the bench in Mainz are all either former members of the NSDAP or Mitläufer.  Kornitzer is treated as an outsider – both as a Jew and because of his special status an Opfer des Faschismus.  And he is not alone as an outsider in new “democratic” West Germany.  Krechel often brings real historical events and figures into the novel.  Such as Philipp Auerbach, a Jew and former chemist who survived Auschwitz and who after the war worked tirelessly for restitution to the victims of Nazi crimes.  Kornitzer watches with great interest as Auerbach is persecuted by former Nazis in Bavaria.  Eventually he is unjustly convicted and imprisoned by a court comprised of ex-Nazis, and commits suicide.  Kornitzer cynically sees what is necessary to succeed as a Jew in postwar Germany:

“Am besten war es, man verhielt sich mucksmäuschenstill. man tut seine Arbeit, man fiel nicht auf, gab sich nicht als ehemaliges Mitglied einer Spruchkammer, als Jude, als Trauernder um Philipp Auerbach zu erkennen, gab keinen Anlass, antisemitische Äusserungen, Taktlosigkeiten, Nadelstiche auf sich zu ziehen. Am besten, man war wortkarg, sah nicht nach links und nicht nach rechts und tat seine Arbeit.  Am besten, man war tot.”

I very much enjoyed the middle part of Landgericht, which deals with Kornitzer’s exile in Havana. Life for the German/Austrian exiles in Cuba was hardly a tropical vacation.  Many ended up in a jungle detention camp where conditions were deplorable.  Kornitzer is able to find work as a secretary for a corrupt attorney and fares somewhat better than his compatriots.  Ursula Krechel obviously conducted quite a bit of research on Cuba in the 1940s and its treatment of European refugees.  Eventually Kornitzer meets and falls in love with a young school teacher.  The affair produces a daughter – Amanda – who Kornitzer never has a chance to see before the war ends he returns to Germany.

Kornitzer becomes frustrated and embittered by his inability to get ahead in the “new” postwar order.  His children are now more English than German and are estranged from their parents.  Claire’s health was ruined after her business was confiscated and she was forced to work in a dairy during the war.  Kornitzer pursues every legal and bureaucratic channel to recover the life that was stolen from him  – the back and forth with the various courts and agencies becomes somewhat tiresome to the reader.  But Ursula Krechel makes one brilliant move towards the end of the novel: Kornitzer is bitter that he was passed over for a promotion and in a public court hearing reads out Article 3 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz):

Niemand darf wegen seines Geschlechtes, seiner Abstammung, seiner Rasse, seiner Sprache, seiner Heimat und Herkunft, seines Glaubens, seiner religiösen oder politischen Anschauungen benachteiligt oder bevorzugt werden.

(No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions.)

That simple act of reading out loud a passage from the constitution is viewed as scandalous, and Kornitzer is forced into early retirement.  He spends his retirement relentlessly seeking restitution and – despite an appearance by Amanda – dies embittered man.

This novel would have benefited from a good editor – it is about 150 pages too long.  Nevertheless, Landgericht  is an important novel and deserves an English translation.  Landgericht was a recently made into a two-part film for television, which hopefully will be available to American audiences at some point.”

https://auntielive.wordpress.com/2018/09/16/ursula-knechels-landgericht/comment-page-1/#comment-306

2 thoughts on “Ursula Knechel’s ‘Landgericht’, review by David Vickrey”

  1. Thanks for the review of this very interesting story. I was quite interested in the book after watching the two-part (3-hour) video entitled ‘Redemption Road’ via streaming on MHZ Networks in German with English subtitles.

    Like

    1. Hi Bill, I thank you for mentioning this video. I found it here:

      https://mhzchoiceblog.com/first-look-redemption-road/

      Now Streaming

      It says: “Redemption Road, a two-episode limited series based on the novel Landgericht by Ursula Krechel (which was translated into English as State Justice, so as not to be confused with Redemption Road, a 2016 thriller novel by John Hart, nor with Redemption Road, a 2010 limited release feature film …The two episodes are beautifully directed by Matthias Glasner (Blochin), and star German fave Ronald Zehrfeld (The Weissensee Saga, In the Face of Crime) and the fantastic Johanna Wokalek as a married German couple, Richard and Claire, dealing with the trauma and subsequent fallout of Nazi persecution. He’s Jewish, she’s not, and – good news! – neither of them die in the war! Neither do their children! No one ends up in a concentration camp! Sounds great, except… well, agony is relative, but it’s still agony.”

      In the review something interesting is mentioned about the German constitution!

      Article 3 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz) says:

      “No person shall be favoured or disfavoured because of sex, parentage, race, language, homeland and origin, faith, or religious or political opinions.”

      Vickrey says: “The central figure in the novel, the Jewish barrister Richard Kornitzer, is forced to flee the Nazis and finds sanctuary in Havana for ten years. . . .”

      After his return during the postwar years “Kornitzer is treated as an outsider – both as a Jew and because of his special status an Opfer des Faschismus. And he is not alone as an outsider in new “democratic” West Germany . . .”

      “That simple act of reading out loud a passage from the constitution is viewed as scandalous, and Kornitzer is forced into early retirement. . .”

      Yes, so much about how people may be treated in the new “democratic” West Germany!

      This is what it says further on about the movie:

      Redemption Road presents something of a unique perspective of the life of German Jews in WWII. By now, we’ve absorbed accounts of the Holocaust, historical and fictional, delving into Nazi atrocities of imprisonment, starvation, unfathomable physical abuse, and murder in the camps. Less often told are the stories of the people who, through foresight or luck, managed to get out, to escape their homeland as their citizenship was revoked, and their livelihoods taken away. Richard, a district judge who has devoted his life to the rule of law, sees the writing on the wall and, just in time, sends his little children to England as part of the kindertransport.

      With subtle horror, the show captures the utter nightmare and surreality of what it must be like for a parent to see their children taken from them, not knowing what will happen to them, not knowing if they’ll ever be together again. How could anyone survive the distress? For a person such as Richard, devoted to logic and order, the lost decade and mental toll in the face of the injustice of it all, is severe. His family stays alive, but at what cost? If you were obsessed with A French Villagehere’s a look at the war’s aftermath from another angle.

      The road back
      Having outlasted the war, Richard makes a return to Germany that was just as painful as his exit, and is reunited with Claire. Will putting the pieces back together prove futile? Is there any hope that justice will be served for the millions of fortunes destroyed, families torn apart and innocent lives lost in the name of war? Is there any point in seeking acknowledgment of the decimation done to so many? What does it take to make a life worth living after you have merely survived evil inflicted on you by your own country? These are but a few of the questions asked by Redemption Road as its characters go on with their lives, separately and together, seeking answers.”

       

“Our Souls at Night”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Souls_at_Night_(film)

We watched this movie yesterday. Peter and I, we both thought it was a good one.  I read the plot in Wikipedia and it says beautifully in a condensed way everything about the theme of the movie.  I copy here the plot the way I found it in Wikipedia:

“Louis Waters is a widower. One evening he is visited by Addie, a widow who lives next door. She invites him to sometimes sleep over – platonically – talking in bed to combat loneliness. They try it out, and like it. The community finds out, but assume it’s a sexual relationship. After Louis’ coffee shop friends make a joke, Louis walks out mad. Addie’s friend Ruth asks her a few questions. To stop the gossip, the two have Sunday lunch together at a restaurant.

Addie’s son Gene dumps his seven year old child Jamie with her. Louis helps her care for him, sets up his train set and gets Jamie a dog. The boy even sleeps with the elderly couple in a real family setting. After Gene learns of the relationship, he takes Jamie back even though his wife has left him. Louis and Addie go on a trip and get around to having sex.

Addie falls down and ends up in the hospital. Her son wants her to move in with him and Jamie. She decides that family must come first and the couple spend their last night together. Both she and Louis are back to sleeping alone. So Louis sends her the train set and a cell-phone. After getting into bed, she calls him and they start talking as old friends. And the movie ends.”

Cast

. . . . .

“The film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2017.[6] It was released on September 29, 2017 on Netflix streaming. ”

Personally I do like movies that deal with relationships among people, be it romantic relationships or family relationships or important friendships. There is some of all of this in this slow moving movie.

I guess there are all sorts of ways to combat loneliness in old age. It seems to me we are bound to feel lonely without some significant personal contacts. 

 

How to keep Track of Time?

How to keep Track of Time? Yes, how do you do this? Eighty + years of impressions, incidents and experiences, having seen so many different places, having met so many different people. Does it all become a blur in the end?

For young people time often seems to drag on slowly, slowly. But ask any elderly person, the answer is, that time passes awfully quickly. What is a week? A week, well, a week just flies away. I try to recall what we did last week, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, four weeks ago. Four weeks ago? Is it four weeks ago that we stayed in Sydney for a few days for our daughter’s  wedding? Is it two weeks ago that we travelled to Benalla to stay there for a week with our son? What about doctor’s appointments? Did we have three different doctor’s appointments during the past week? Quite so. That is, I met another specialist for the first time last week, and Peter also met another specialist for the first time last week.  Peter also saw his GP, the one that he has been seeing for many years. He was the first one who explained to Peter that according to some test results a ‘tumor’ ought  to be investigated. Some 18 months later he looked at some other test results and concluded that there were some problems with his heart. And so it goes.

On one of Benalla’s Walking Tracks with son Martin

We left Benalla on Monday on the night train from Melbourne, arriving Tuesday morning back home. At 9 am on that day we left again for my doctor’s appointment in Wollongong, going to Wollongong by bus. We both felt rather tired after having spent a night sitting up on the train! Anyway, the following day, Wednesday, Peter saw his GP who is now in Corrimal (not in Dapto anymore). I went along with Peter. The visit at the Corrimal Medical Centre was over quickly. So well before lunchtime Peter drove us to the Leisure Coast fruit shop in Fairy Meadow where we did some serious shopping.

http://lcfruitanddeli.com.au/

Thursday would have been the day for my slow movement exercises here in Dapto. But I felt awfully tired and gave it a miss. I felt that it was really good for me not to have to do anything on that day! Peter however felt on that day well enough  to locally do a bit of shopping  to get the ingredients for a quark cheesecake. And in the afternoon he actually did bake this cake while I was resting in the bedroom. – This cake baking seems to have been a kind of relaxation for  him.

Friday morning Peter found the time to go through the whole house with the vacuum cleaner. Then he went off to Wollongong to see the surgeon who may do a heart bypass operation on him. It turned out,  before he is about to do this, Peter should go for some more scan tests!

I stayed home on Friday. After having done some wiping of the floors, I did get some lunch ready and I  also made preparations for my afternoon visitors. It was my turn to have the four ladies over for our Friday afternoon games of Scrabble and Rummy. Also on Friday, our daughter Monika dropped in at 5,30 after work. Talking to our daughter about a lot of things was a good finish of the day.

And yesterday, Saturday, was a very good day too: Our daughter Caroline and son-in-law Matthew came to visit!

Is it only two more weeks to Easter Sunday? So it is, and I am looking forward to some family visits at Easter time!

 

Diane Keaton Movie: Hampstead

Peter and I saw today this Diane Keaton movie about Hampstead. Peter had first to go to the Private Wollongong Hospital for an appointment with his podiatrist who is fitting him some insoles. These insoles might help him with his walking. The podiatrist spent with Peter a bit over an hour. It was already 11,45 when we left the hospital. This left us less than half an hour to make it to the GALA in Warrawong to see the movie. But we were lucky. We still made it on time. This movie was well worth seeing. I am glad we did make it.

 

http://villagecinemas.com.au/movies/hampstead

 

 

“Starring Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson, Hampstead is a heartwarming romantic comedy set around the beautiful Hampstead Heath in London, a quiet piece of countryside in a vast metropolis. Living in a lovely old apartment on the edge of the Heath, American widow Emily Walters (Keaton) feels like she is drifting aimlessly through life. Then she meets Donald (Gleeson), who has lived harmoniously on the Heath for 17 years in a ramshackle hut. When property developers attempt to destroy his home, Emily steps up to defend Donald in the escalating battle and soon finds that, despite his gruff exterior, there is something special about this gentle and unconventional man.”

Human Flow review – Ai Weiwei’s urgent look at the scale of the refugee crisis

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/aug/31/human-flow-review-ai-weiwei-refugee-crisis

Gorgeous shots in Greece, Calais and elsewhere, many filmed from drones, create a visual tone poem that proves both epic and highly human

“The international co-productions of the mid-20th century often boasted myriad shooting locations in far-flung places. Who would have guessed the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei would pick up where moguls such as Sam Spiegel left off.

Ai’s new film, Human Flow, while certainly epic in scope, is not exactly meant as entertainment. This is an urgent, deep soak in the current refugee crisis. There has been no dearth of documentaries about this topic, but this one comes closest to understanding the totality of the issue. . . . .”

I copied the above from The Guardian

 

My father, a stranger from North Korea

 

http://www.dw.com/en/my-father-a-stranger-from-north-korea/a-18542325

“Loved, Engaged, Lost” – A documentary that tells the love story between women from former East Germany and North Korean men sent to the former Communist nation for studying. A relationship with painful consequences.

Film Verliebt Verlobt Verloren Die Familie

The eyes of the protagonists in Sung-Hyung Cho’s “Loved, Engaged, Lost” reveal that their roots do not lie in the former German Democratic Republic, at least not entirely. They grew up with their mothers in the ex-Communist nation, but their fathers come from North Korea.

The men were sent to East Germany by the North Korean government during the 1950s – some of them during the Korean War – to attend university and later use their knowledge to re-build their war-torn nation.

During their stay, however, some of the men entered relationships with East German women. But the children born out of these relations did not see their fathers for long, as the men were ordered to return to their homeland in the 1960s, resulting in a break-up of the families.

A documentary film made by Sung-Hyung Cho, which premiered in Germany on June 25, tells the stories of these families and takes a look at their lives. Although there is no precise figure on the number of families affected, the director is aware of 18 such cases. In a DW interview, Sung-Hyung Cho talks about the idea behind the film and her experiences in making it.

Film Verliebt Verlobt Verloren Sung-Hyung ChoSung-Hyung: ‘It wasn’t easy at first to win over the support of the protagonists’

DW: What was the idea behind the film?

Sung-Hyung Cho: The story of Renate Hong was very popular in South Korea. In 2006, her story became the talk of the town after a South Korean historian – who had conducted some research in Jena about the relationship between North Korea and East Germany – met Renate Hong by chance.

She narrated her story, and he propagated it on the Internet. The response was overwhelming. The Koreans were blown away by the sad but beautiful love story.

Most Koreans, myself included, know the story. Moreover, I was greatly interested in knowing and better understanding former East Germany. I also wanted to know more about North Korea, even if only indirectly.

How did you manage to find the films’ protagonists?

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It wasn’t easy at first to win over the support of the protagonists, especially given that this is both a painful subject and an unsolved issue for most of them. It was especially hard for them to reminisce about their past relationships.

As a result, many didn’t want to be reminded of it, let lone talk about it. In addition, they were cautious and distrustful of the media.

However, the fact that I’ve been regularly attending the meetings of these German-Korean families helped me in terms of slowly earning their trust. A couple of years later, they probably asked themselves when this Korean woman would finally shoot the film about them.

Do you know of stories in which children got to meet their fathers and their love for each other stood the test of time?

The Hong family eventually managed to track down the father. Renate and her sons ultimately traveled to North Korea for what turned out to be a very emotional, touching but also peculiar reunion following so many years of separation.

In your view, how do these children, who are now grown-ups, feel about their North Korean fathers?

Just like anywhere else, this depends on the child. What they all have in common is a longing to get to meet their respective fathers or at least learn something about their lives. They are very curious, asking themselves who the man is, what he has achieved and whether he is even alive. But tracking these men down is often extremely difficult.

How do the women mostly remember their former partners?

In different ways. Some decided at some point to distance themselves emotionally and go about their lives as if their partner had died. Others, however, tried to keep the memory alive and to simply come to terms with the situation. And then there are others who decided to actively track them down.

Film Verliebt Verlobt Verloren Das WiedersehenThe story of Renate Hong was very popular in South Korea

To which extent does the children’s Korean background play a role in their daily lives?

Those are their roots. And even though some of these parents remain unknown to them, these roots remain and simply do not disappear. It sometimes plays a bigger role and sometimes a lesser one. But the father’s influence is always reflected in the children’s physical appearance.

Have you yourself tried to track down and contact one of the fathers?

This was mainly done by the children. There are even German-Korean associations to assist in this regard.

Is there a single story that has touched you in a special way?

Each story is extremely touching in its own way, so I can’t just pick one. The story of the Hong family was the first one I ever heard, but then came so many others and each one of them was moving and touching.

Born in South Korea, Sung Hyung Cho is a Germany-based editor and director, known for Full Metal Village (2006), Endstation der Sehnsüchte (2009) and 11 Freundinnen (2013).