Opening 15 Feb 2018
What a peaceful, harmonious beginning. Jakob and his wife Julia drive with their 17-year-old daughter Luna (Vicari) and her younger sister Lena to their isolated, lakeside summer cabin. What begins with a happy family looking forward to a leisurely vacation quickly turns into death, and one tense getaway. An unfamiliar car drives up and men with guns jump out. Jakob frantically tries to reason with them, if only to save his family. They shoot Julia and Lena and then Jakob. Luna flees and escapes only by falling over a cliff. Miraculously she manages to reach a police station in Munich, where she becomes a subject of major interest, not only to the German secret service, but also to Russian special agents. Slowly she places her trust in her father’s friend Hamid (Ljubek), who wants to send her back to Russia for safety, but she is determined to discover the truth behind the tragedy. We learn that her father’s real name was Dimitri Petrowitsch Ignatiev; he had been working as a secret agent for the Russians, but was on the verge of changing sides to reveal all secrets to the Germans.
Khaled Kaissar came to Germany from Afghanistan in 1985 at the age of 13. This is his first full-length feature film as director. Definitely a German product, it was filmed in Oberstdorf, Munich, and Dachau. Kaissar was inspired by the true story of a Russian couple, who lived in Baden-Württenberg, Germany, for 20 years, worked for the Russian Secret Service, and was arrested in 2012. This film is tense from beginning to end, since there is no guarantee that all will be well. All emphasis is on the young girl: her suffering, her burden, and her hope, who says, “The only thing that keeps you going, is knowing that it all turns out OK.” Or does it? Vicari easily carries the weight of the film and certainly has prospects for a long-term, successful film career. (Becky Tan)