© farbfilm verleih GmbH

Die Anfängerin
Germany 2017

Opening 18 Jan 2018

Directed by: Alexandra Sell
Writing credits: Alexandra Sell
Principal actors: Ulrike Krumbiegel, Annekathrin Bürger, Maria Rogozina, Reinhard E. Ketterer, Franziska Weisz

At age 58 Dr. Annebärbel Buschhaus (Krumbiegel) is forced to take stock of her life and the results are less than encouraging. Her medical practice (which she took over from her now-retired mother, Irene) is dissatisfying and she is unfriendly, even angry, with patients. Irene selfishly demands more time attention, plays the role of high-class society lady, and complains constantly: “The Christmas tree is crooked; food needs more salt.” Her husband, fed up with it all, has left her for another woman. Annebärbel thinks back to younger days and remembers happier times on ice. It is not surprising then that she digs out her old skates and wobbles onto the ice at her Berlin ice-skating rink, which offers space for retirees to practice their skills and socialize, as well as for young people to train for worldwide championships. After all, as a young girl she was headed for an ice-skating career of her own, until Irene changed all plans and pushed her into the medical field because another girl, Christine, was “much better talented to win ice-skating medals.” She befriends young Jolina (Rogozina) who also dreams of medals. Annebärbel gradually discovers her better self and begins to interact with other people in a more positive light.

It’s not by chance that a film about ice-skating takes place in former East Berlin, where, in the days of the East German Republic, success at sport was one opportunity to achieve worldwide recognition. Director Sell convinced champion Berlin ice skater and winner of the 1974 women’s world championship and third-place winner at the 1976 Olympics, Christine Errath, to play herself – a retired ice skater. Ulrike Krumbiegel took ice skating lessons for this role and even insisted on personally suffering through scenes of crashing and falling on the ice. Sell wanted to present the ice-skating rink as “a site of opposites: old and young, dreams both failed and realized, as well as beauty and hardship.” She says, “It is never too late for a new beginning.” This film is especially interesting to watch along with I, Tonya, a docudrama about the champion ice skater Tonya Harding, which opens in Germany six weeks later on March 1. (Becky Tan)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.