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Festivals and Conferences, German Cinema

BIFF 2011 #15: A Fine Day (Der schöne Tag, Germany 2001)

Deniz (played by Serpil Turhan)

The fourth festival film from Thomas Arslan was another short feature made for television – one of a trilogy, I think, about characters in a particular district of Berlin. We see 24 hours in the life of Deniz, a young Turkish-German actress. On this day Deniz (played by Serpil Turhan) will try to split up with her boyfriend, go to work in a dubbing studio, visit her mother, go to an audition, meet her sister and spend time with a guy she notices on the street. There is no ‘plot’ as such, unless we create one in the form of some kind of ‘journey of discovery’ for Deniz.

As with all Arslan’s films that we’ve seen in the festival, this is beautifully shot and edited. Even the simplest actions – opening a door, entering a room, walking down the street – involve perfect compositions held for just a little longer than usual. There is a lot of movement across Berlin – mostly walking or riding on the U-Bahn or S-Bahn – and on this sunny summer’s day the city looks attractive and inviting. I happily watched Deniz move through it with her purposeful stride.

Deniz gets to the point when she meets people. She says what she thinks in a matter of fact way. She’s trying to work out what relationships are all about – how and why she should nurture them and how she will know when it is worthwhile to stick with someone. The only clunky moment in the film for me was when she approached a woman in a coffee bar for a cigarette and eventually prompted a lecture about the meaning of romance. Perhaps it is unfair to call it clunky – if she’d asked me about romance I would probably have given the same explanation that ‘romantic love’ is an eighteenth century social construct.

This was one of my favourite films of the festival and it set things up nicely for the last Arslan film screening – at which he would be present. Watch this space.

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