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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Festung

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Starts November 29

Original language: German

Family: what does that mean? For Johanna, no matter how bad it is, you stick together. Johanna is one of three girls living with their parents in an apparently happy household. Unfortunately, their house holds an ugly secret that threads the girls together like fish caught in a net. Johanna is the middle child, which weighs heavily on her shoulders now that her older sister has escaped the family bonds in an attempt to move far away as possible. Johanna’s younger sister looks to her for protection, but has picked up the abusive tone from their father who is constantly attacking their mother. Because of this secret, Johanna is drifting further away from her friends and has become an outsider in the school until she meets the son of the gym teacher. Director Kirsi Marie Liimastainen uses this film as an answer to those who are crying out for help, but don’t know what to do. She hopes that any child who is in such a hopeless family situation will seek help before it is too late, and she also hopes that others will reach out instead of bullying those individuals.

Psychologically this is a very heavy and disturbing family. You never see anything, but you feel it and see the effect it has on the children. The film is extremely quiet and the director pushes the limit of silence to evoke the emotional strangulation that Johanna feels even though she attempts to cope with the situation. The harshness of this film is very effective, and, since it does carry a heavy and meaningful message, it is well-worth seeing. 

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