Opening July 16, 2015
Directed by: Dietrich Brüggemann
Writing credits: Dietrich Brüggemann
Principle actors: Jerry Hoffmann, Liv Lisa Fries, Oliver Bröcker, Benno Fürmann, Anna Brüggemann
Who said that Germans have no sense of humor and are incapable of laughing about themselves? Not true as this film proves. Sebastian (Hoffmann) is a German-African author on his way to Prittwitz in former Eastern Germany for a reading of his latest book. Tattooed Neo-Nazis greet him with their clubs and chains and he is knocked unconscious. Upon awakening, he has lost any sense of identity or memory and believes that these guys are his pals. He joins them under the leadership of Sven (Fürmann). They travel to public events and television interviews, where Sebastian is Exhibit Number One; he declares convincingly that Germany needs to revert to the days of Hitler and racism. They make plans to invade Poland. Sebastian’s girlfriend Nina suffers from his absence; after all, she is highly pregnant and needs his support. She travels from Berlin to Prittwitz, meets Sascha, the local policeman, and together they follow Sebastian from one talk show to the next.
Nobody is taken seriously, not old, right-wing radicals, nor young hippies with swastikas called “nipsters,” nor liberal intellectuals. Some people will say the film goes too far with no respect for order, according to today’s rules of acceptable social behavior. So be it. It’s what the Monty Python boys would do if they lived in Germany. Several different German actors make short appearances in different roles. The most surprising was Matthias Elwardt, who is not an actor, but the manager of Abaton Cinema in Hamburg. Here, in a short appearance, he excellently plays a business man giving advice – maybe a new career is in sight. The title Heil refers to the term as it was used in World War II, but actually it goes way back almost to the 12th century when hunters greeted each other with Waidmannsheil. (Becky T.)