Whodunit?

by Becky Tan

Krimis, also known as murder mysteries or detective stories are wildly popular on German television with long-running shows such as TATORT, POLIZEIRUF 110, BELLA BLOCK, DER ALTE, and LETZTE SPUR BERLIN, to name a few. I’m addicted along with thousands of other viewers, so it was no surprise that I ended up at three murder mysteries which showed at the festival. Strangely, all three involved the death of teenaged girls. (BT)

TOWN IN A LAKE (Matangtubig)
Jet Leyco, Philippines
Matangtubig is a small town where villagers know each other – or at least they thought they did until two teenaged girls disappear; the corpse of one, Natalie, is discovered. But where is her friend Melody? Has she survived? There is one under-aged potential witness and the chief of police speaks politically-correct blah-blah to the press, which is eager to uncover a scandal. And, so, the village crumbles, each to his own, after all “sometimes children pay for the sins of their parents.” Everyone attends the funeral, where they wear white, according to Asian custom. The deed seems even more horrible seen in the excellently photographed scenes of natural beauty: the lake, the forest. (BT)

CRUELTY (Grimmd)
Anton Sigurðsson, Iceland
Police commissioner Edda Daviðsdóttir and her colleague Schram are investigating the deaths of two sisters, ages seven and ten, who are found lying in the snow in Reykjavik. Highly professional, they begin working to set up a list of known or possible sex offenders. One person on the list is Daviðsdóttir’s own autistic brother. The action progresses slowly and we ask “Why is the victims’ mother hiding pages from one daughter’s diary? What is Hedda, daughter of Edda, doing? The story unfolds very slowly. Often we become confused and then just stop concentrating. The annoying music needs to die. Is this typical of films from the far north? (BT)

DER NAMENLOSE TAG (The Nameless Day)
Volker Schlöndorff, Germany
Ludwig Winter visits retired crime investigator Jakob Franck and refers to the death of his 17-year-old daughter, Esther, a death filed as a suicide. Winter is convinced that it was murder and asks Franck to reopen the case. In flashbacks we learn that Esther was found hanging from a tree in a park. Forced to bring the bad news to Natalie’s mother, Franck ended up consoling her for the next seven hours. Later, this mother, unable to live with such a tragedy, commits suicide. Several characters bring the plot forward: Sandra (best girlfriend), Jan (boyfriend), Jordan (small boy), Rosie (older lady). Franck habitually solves cases by lying on his comfortable bed and staring at the ceiling until an idea pops into his head. Volker Schlöndorff is a well-known, successful German director, winner of both an Oscar and the Golden Palm in Cannes for THE TIN DRUM. Based on the book by Friedrich Ani, this is Schlöndorff first film to go straight to television, which is unusual for his works.