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Berlin Film Anthology: UMSONST

To pass the time and stay in tune with Berlin’s cinematic spirit we have decided to use the coronavirus intermission to compile a little anthology of Berlin films.

UMSONST (meaning both for free and in vain) takes you to a time that is only a few summers away but feels already like a glorious past: It’s Summer in Kreuzberg. Aziza, who is around 20, is doing an internship with her father in Portugal. She decides to cut her time in Portugal short and returns to Berlin unexpectedly. She doesn't tell her mother she's coming back and doesn't tell anyone why she left Portugal. She returns home to find Zach, a young New Zealander, in her room. He came to Berlin to hang out with no definite plans to leave. “I am not a good force for the world, but I am not a negative force. I am like a benign tumor,” he tells the camera. Zach moves out and crashes at a friend's place; Aziza helps him to carry a chair through the city. She hangs out with her old group of friends on the bridge. She fights with her mother, leaves the apartment in a huff and walks through the streets with a new friend until daybreak in Görlitzer Park. Not too much happens in this film. Often the camera shows the protagonists walking through the streets, sitting in the park, at a flea market, or hanging out in the Oranienstraße. UMSONST, conceived and filmed by one of b-books founders Stephan Geene, accomplishes a small miracle: a snapshot of Kreuzberg that includes all the well-known spots in the neighbourhood without reducing them to clichés. Geene and his cameraman don’t force anything: Things happen because they happen, and people speak the way they speak. Not too much and not too friendly. And Ceci Chuh and Vivian Daniel, who play Aziza and her mother respectively, capture perfectly the typical mother-daughter dynamic.

You can order or download UMSONST at one of Berlin's local DVD stores: https://www.filmgalerie451.de/filme/umsonst/