Opening 11 Sep 2008
German Niko von Glasow directs a film about making nude photographs for a calendar. This has parallels to the British film Calendar Girls in that all 12 candidates normally would not agree to such a project. The director includes himself, although he looks like “a round, pink penguin with glasses.” Nobody’s Perfect shows more than a few unattractive wrinkles. These models were born handicapped because their mothers took Thalidomide (Contergan) during pregnancy 50 years ago. Of the 10,000 children born with disfigurements, half died. The survivors live on with various kinds of flippers in the place of arms, some without legs. Von Glasow is also a victim.
He recruits old acquaintances from his former school in Cologne, new-found sufferers and residents of London, his second home. In serious but humorous ways he shows how they rise to the challenges of their handicaps: Doris holds a wine glass with her toes, shy gardener Theo hides behind a rose bush, and Bianca is an award-winning equestrian. Mat, when asked what he would do with the money from the film, said, “I’d buy a toilette that automatically wipes.” Sophia’s greatest wish is to put her hands into her pockets. They discuss their childhoods, and strangely, none of them blame their mothers, although some blame pharmacies, hospitals, and naturally the company which produced the drug and ignored the warnings: Grünenthal. (The drug was never allowed in the US nor Eastern Germany.)
The calendar photographs were blown up and exhibited in front of the Cologne cathedral with mixed reactions from passers-by (“Not a nice thing to show children.”) The director tries to take his photos into the Grünenthal offices, but he is no Michael Moore and this flops. They are not asking for pity; they just tell it like it is. In England Kim successfully led protests and now British sufferers receive three times more compensation than their German counterparts. Von Glasow said, “When aliens come to earth and dig up the remains of my friend Stefan, an armless-legless Buddha-like astrophysicist in a wheel chair, they will think that one of them has already been here.” I highly recommend this film. (Becky Tan)