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    Karger – Hard Times at Saxon Factory Town

    By Ron Holloway | August 26, 2008

    Thanks to the advantages of today’s production technology, realist dramas with nonprofessional casts are making the rounds of international film festivals. Not by chance, many of these awarded films have been directed by newcomers in the “Berlin School.” This past year, Elke Hauck’s Karger (Germany, 2007), a debut feature shot on DigiBeta, was awarded at Saarbrücken and programmed in the Karlovy Vary competition.

    Shot in the environs of Riesa, Karger reflects the hands-on experience of Elke Hauck, who was born and raised in this Saxon factory town that once was the pride of the GDR but has now fallen upon hard times. The story of a home grown steelworker who can hardly imagine living anywhere else, Karger (Jens Klemig), a muscular, reticent, jeans-jacket, mid-thirties type, doesn’t quite understand how he got divorced by his wife Sabine (Marion Kuhnt), who has decided to go it alone with their young daughter. Then he is hit even harder by losing his job when the steelmill is sold to a French company.

    To her credit, Elke Hauck has fashioned Karger into a fictional mirror of reality in this drab corner of eastern Germany: the icy, empty streets of a factory town that has once seen better days, the laconic throw-away phases by people who find it hard to hold a conversation, the stifling authenticity of kitchens and living rooms, the despair at the bars and the employment agency. In the end, when Karger boards a bus to leave the town, he looks back on his grey past through a pair of sunglasses!

    – Ron Holloway

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