Germany | Austria 2018
Opening September 13, 2018
Directed by: Wolfgang Fischer
Writing credits: Wolfgang Fischer, Ika Kuenzel
Principal actors: Susanne Wolff, Gedion Oduor Wekesa, Kelvin Mutuku Ndinda, Inga Birkenfeld, Alexander Beyer
Rieke (Susanne Wolff) is an emergency doctor whose idea of a vacation is sailing solo down the Atlantic from Germany to the extremely remote Ascension Island, off the coast of Africa. For her, this is the realization of a long-held dream to see what has become of Charles Darwin's experiment to create a planned paradise. Such an exposition is set for us almost wordlessly by Fischer as we see Rieke calmly and efficiently work an accident scene in Berlin and then doggedly prepare for her long journey as she stocks her boat, Asa Gray, with water, food, and emergency supplies. Once out to sea, perhaps because of this lack of dialogue in addition to Wolff's superb acting, it is almost impossible not to become engrossed in her sailing routines and the perils she faces struggling alone through a particularly rough storm.
It is as Rieke emerges in one piece from this difficult night though that an even greater challenge confronts her: the discovery of a sinking fishing trawler carrying refugees at sea. Having dutifully contacted the Coast Guard to report her find and request assistance for the desperate situation, she seems distrustful of the response that help is on the way and the directive not to assist. After several hours with no one arriving, in an attempt to get water to them, she steers a bit too close to the vessel and is astonished to see people begin jumping from the ship and attempting to swim to her. Again, she contacts the authorities and is assured help is on the way. Confronted with the moral dilemma of drowning people in front of her, she decides to do what she can and is able to save one boy, Kingsley (Gedion Oduor Wekesa).
Rieke resourcefully attends to Kingsley's injuries and helps him recover from the physical shock and hypothermia of his ocean swim. However, saving him has only compounded this moral dilemma as Kingsley immediately begins to plead for her to return to the boat and help save his sister. The ensuing drama and personal struggle Rieke works through will have you literally at the end of your seat. What is the right thing to do in this situation? With these two talented actors, Fischer achieves a simultaneously thoughtful and gripping examination of a very timely topic. 94 minutes (Adelina G.)