Hochwald [Why Not You] (2020)

Director: Evi Romen
Writer: Evi Romen
Cast: Thomas Prenn, Noah Saavedra, Josef Mohamed, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Ursula Ofner, Elisabeth Kanettis
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 1.11.2020

Content Note: intense homomisic violence and general homomisia (both shown critically), critical treatment of racism against muslims, bimisia

Mario (Thomas Prenn) is stuck in the little mountain village of Hochwald where he sticks out like a sore thumb – a flamboyant dancer, he really has no place in the conservative town. The only one who really seems to understand him is his best friend Lenz (Noah Saavedra) who escaped the village in pursuit of an acting career. He is back for a few days before heading to Rome where he wants to meet his agent. In an act of defiance, Mario joins him and they go to a gay bar. But while they are there, the gay club is attacked and many people die, including Lenz. Mario returns home, heartbroken, to find practically nothing but hostility in Hochwald. How can he go on like this?

Hochwald is really excellent queer cinema made in Austria. Fantastic setting, nicely set in scene and a very thoughtful approach to a very difficult topic. While I didn’t love every detail about it, I absolutely loved the film as a whole.

The film poster showing Mario (Thomas Prenn) in red disco light.
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Womit haben wir das verdient? [What Have We Done to Deserve This?] (2018)

Womit haben wir das verdient?
Director: Eva Spreitzhofer
Writer: Eva Spreitzhofer
Cast: Caroline Peters, Chantal Zitzenbacher, Simon Schwarz, Hilde Dalik, Marcel Mohab, Duygu Arslan, Alev Irmak, Pia Hierzegger, Christopher Schärf, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Emily Cox, Denise Teipel
Seen on: 11.1.2019

Content Note: racism against muslims, homomisia

Wanda (Caroline Peters) is a staunch feminist and a modern woman. She has two teenaged children and an okay relationship with her ex-husband Harald (Simon Schwarz), a job, a new boyfriend (Marcel Mohab) and nothing whatsoever to do with religion. So when her daughter Nina (Chantal Zitzenbacher) announces that she converted to Islam, starts wearing a hijab and will be called Fatima from now on, Wanda is absolutely crestfallen. She doesn’t understand in the slightest and her attempts to engage with her daughter are clumsy at best.

Going into the film, I was suspicious of Womit haben wir das verdient?. I was worried it would be problematic regarding its depiction of Islam/Muslims, but I thought that I couldn’t say no to an Austrian film by a woman that is explicitely feminist. Well, unfortunately I was right to be suspicious: it was an exercise in white feminism if ever I saw one, always hovering around being completely racist.

The film poster showing Nina (Chantal Zitzenbacher) as she makes a selfie while wearing a hijab, surrounded by her parents Wanda (Caroline Peters) and Harald (Simon Schwarz), as well as her parents' new partners (Marcel Mohab, Hilde Dalik).
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Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben (2017)

Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben [literally: My Blind Date with Life]
Director: Marc Rothemund
Writer: Oliver Ziegenbalg, Ruth Toma
Based on: Saliya Kahawatte‘s autobiography
Cast: Kostja UllmannJacob Matschenz, Anna Maria MüheJohann von Bülow, Nilam Farooq, Ludger Pistor, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Herbert Forthuber, Michael A. Grimm
Seen on: 16.2.2017

Sali (Kostja Ullmann) has dreamed of working in a hotel since the childhood holidays he spent in Sri Lanka, where his father is from. But shortly before he is done with school, his eyesight suddenly becomes very bad. After surgery, all he is left with is about 5% of his sight. But Sali is determined to succeed anyway. He finishes school despite everything and when he gets the chance to work at a noble hotel in Munich, he decides to just not tell them that he can’t see all that well anymore. But that doesn’t necessarily make things any easier.

Mein Blind Date mit dem Leben is a sweet film, though not one that warrants rave reviews. Despite its being inspiration porn, I enjoyed watching it, but it didn’t touch me very deeply.

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