The Wonder years

On Day 9, two films, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Sudabeh Mortezai's Maconda, explore familial bonds and their influences on children

American filmmaker Richard Linklater, affectionately called St Richard of Austin, returns to Berlin competition with his film Boyhood. Unlike his earlier trilogy — Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight — depicting a timeframe of a few hours, Boyhood spans over 15 years and is actually shot over 4,200 days.

It is a simple, straight line story of a family consisting of divorced mother, a daughter, son and the estranged father spending time with the children. The mother tries to pick up her life with other men and the children grow up.

The film depicts American way of life as seen by the director: how siblings and step brothers and sisters learn to live together and the biological parents standing by their children. Linklater said “the film is about how I remember my life in a not too dramatic way”. For the actor Ellar, acting in the film was a “cathartic, emotional experience”. For Lorelei Linklater, the filmmaker’s daughter, the film was a “strange experience, honestly, at times painful”. For the director, the film is a leap of faith for the actors and depicts certain amount of optimism about the future. “I tried to capture as the kids grow up and life goes on. Not only the children grow up, it is about the adults, bumbling parents growing up,” said the director. “I learnt a lot about being a son,” added the actor.

Austrian film Maconda, directed by Sudabeh Mortezai of Iranian origin depicts the life a Chechen family in a settlement for refugees and asylum seekers in Vienna nicknamed Maconda. Eleven-year-old Ramasan’s father has died in war and the mother with her son and two younger daughters tries to eke out a living in Austria. The boy is the head of the family and is very protective and possessive of his mother and the younger siblings. Aslan, as his late father’s friend is acceptable to him as long as he does not cast his eyes on his mother.

The beauty of the film lies in the fact that it does not depict war or the migration to become voyeuristic, It is simply about the refugees, Chechen in this case, trying to adjust to life in their new environs. It is simple, straight forward, beautifully shot and acted, with a wonderful performance from Ramasan .

The film is devoid of any music. According to the director, the intense drama taking place on screen does not call for any music. “Music would be out of place in the film,” she said. The film developed in almost documentary style shows how a boy grows up between two cultures. Shot in a chronological manner, it portrays people in similar situations. The director cast real life characters instead of opting for professional actors.

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