“The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” is the title of a novel by US author Carson McCullers, and yes, the heart probably is constantly hunting, especially for other hearts to connect with. After all, it’s not so easy to find a soul mate these days, given the huge market that tends to follow economic rather than romantic principles, and given everyone’s preoccupation with optimizing themselves to meet the expectations of others.
Eva (Rosalie Thomass) thought she’d found Mr. Right, but her husband left her years ago for a younger woman named Bella, an influencer who advertises beauty products. Bella naturally devotes a lot of attention to her appearance, but she’s not dumb; she’s every bit as clever and quick-witted as Eva, whose chaotic behavior is causing her to plunge ever deeper into a midlife crisis.
Eva can’t understand why her friend Marlene likes Bella and won’t distance herself from her. Shouldn’t girlfriends be supportive of each other, liking and loathing the very same people? The rift between them grows when Eva finds out rather late that Marlene is planning to spend a weekend at a luxury spa hotel, where she intends to join her lover-to-be on a hunting trip and have an affair with him.
Bella has long known what Marlene is considering, and it’s already been decided that she’ll be going along for the weekend. Eva won’t take this lying down, so she decides to come along, too! And thus we join the three of them on their travels, in the comedy HUNTING SEASON, which celebrates its premiere today in the Filmfest’s Spotlight section at two locations: at 6 pm at the Astor Kino and at 9:30 pm at Kino, Mond & Sterne. This film was directed by Aron Lehmann, who is no stranger to the festival: Lehmann’s debut feature KOHLHAAS ODER DIE VERHÄLTNISMÄSSIGKEIT DER MITTEL (2012) and his subsequent works, HIGHWAY TO HELLAS (2015), THE LAST PIG (2016), and THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD (2020), all had their world premiere here at the festival.
The screenplay for HUNTING SEASON was written by Lea Schmidbauer, Rosalie Thomass, and Aron Lehmann — making for terrific punchlines and probably a balanced perspective as well, even though men have only supporting roles in this film. They don’t come off too badly, either: Golo Euler, for example, has a couple of nice scenes in which he plays a clown who occasionally clashes with Eva and might even become a love interest over the course of time. Eva, however, is preoccupied with herself, her daughter, and her errant friend Marlene, whose infidelity she seeks to forestall.
The three women settle into the spa hotel and have experiences that tend to revolve around their own bodies, especially their nether regions; standards of beauty that are mostly in the mind; and a jealousy that must be overcome. “This isn’t a competition!” is a line heard several times in this film, in which the hunt for happiness leads to a terrific friendship among women. This buddy comedy by Aron Lehmann and his team hits the mark, with Rosalie Thomass, Almila Bagriacik, and Marie Burchard as three friends who grow on you. And don’t we go to the movies specifically to relate to such plausible, fallible, and savvy characters?
liberame - after the storm
Friendships arise out of shared experiences, whether intentionally or not. The members of the clique in the series DAMAGED GOODS (New German Television Productions) met as teenagers in a group therapy session. Now they’re a bit older, though not necessarily wiser. The cohesion among them is just right — or, rather, it would be if it weren’t for Nola, played by Sophie Passmann, talking candidly in her podcast about her personal life and those of her friends. This and other incidents cause some cracks to form in their once solid relationship. How much stress can a friendship really handle? (The premiere is sold out; tickets are still available for the second screening on Thursday, June 30 at 12:30 pm, HFF Kino 1; some members of the film team will be in attendance.)
In the series LIBERAME – AFTER THE STORM (also in the New German Television Productions section), five friends from Hamburg are on a sailing trip in the Mediterranean when they come across a boatload of refugees. Although helping them could mean trouble with the law, the friends decide to tow them to safety. This decision is undermined, however, when someone cuts the tow rope. Years later, the survivors fight for justice. How will the friendship hold up now that the question of guilt has been raised? Answers are found at the premiere on Friday, July 1 at 5:30 pm in the Gloria Palast, and the second screening on Saturday, July 2 at 12:30 pm in HFF Kino 1 (some members of the film team will be attending both screenings).
The latest film by Felix van Groeningen looks at the question of whether a friendship formed in childhood can stand the test of time. In THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS (CineMasters section), which he co-directed with his partner, actress Charlotte Vandermeersch, two boys meet in a mountain village in the Aosta Valley in northern Italy and become friends over the course of several summers. One of them, Pietro, is a city kid, the other, Bruno, a cowherd. They part ways. Twenty years later, Pietro returns to the village and encounters Bruno, who has remained there. What’s left of their friendship after all these years? And what will it look like going forward? Having had its German-language premiere at the Filmfest last weekend, the film will be screened again on Saturday, July 2, at 2:30 pm at City 1.
the eight mountains
Today at 9 pm at the HFF Audimaxx, you can see QUANTUM COWBOYS (CineRebels section) one last time, with the director attending. In a film that’s part western, part comic book, Geoff Marslett tells the story of Frank and Bruno, two drifters in 1870s Arizona, who ignore the limitations of time and space in their search for a legendary musician. The connection between the two remains intact despite all the rough patches they encounter. After all, nothing can tear true friends apart.