Week Five of the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival press screenings began with "Lagerfeuer" (English captions), a harrowing tale about a woman and her son who escape from East Germany in 1975. Christian Schwochow ("Cracks in the Shell") directs this award-winning film (Best Actress in both the 2014 German Film Awards and the 2013 Montreal World Film Festival, plus the FIPRESCI Prize in Montreal) with screenplay by Heide Schwochow based on the novel by Julia Franck.

The cast:
  • Jördis Triebel as Nelly, eager for asylum in West Berlin, she begins to see another side to a fellow she had known for years, the father of her son, who died in a fiery car crash. She quickly comes under scrutiny by government agents, which raises the question, "Is he really dead?"
  • Tristan Göbel is her son Alexej, who still misses his dad. Children in the West Berlin school aren't very kind to the "scum" who have come seeking asylum, so he is bullied.
  • Alexander Scheer is Hans, a fellow who tries to befriend them but her paranoia won't allow it, even though her son really needs a father figure in his life.
It's clear why Jördis Triebel was honored for this film. We watch as she is humiliated at the border by officious guards; how she is insulted by the low-level job she is offered despite having a PhD in Organic Chemistry; how the questions asked of her become questions she asks herself.

Expect nudity, beatings, smoking and a smattering of profanity. I felt this was a worthwhile film, although it certainly wasn't "fun."