I confess to being both surprised and heartened by the news that Andreas Dresen's film, STOPPED ON TRACK, has won the best film prize at the Lolas, the German academy awards (see Peter Krausz's story below).
I found this brave, unsentimental drama about a middle-aged family man named Frank Lange (played compellingly by Milan Peschel) with an incurable brain tumour, to be one of the standouts of this year's festival. All credit to the programming team for selecting it for the festival because it's easy to put this kind of film into the "too hard" basket.
While film festivals should ideally always present a variety of different cinematic moods and styles and subject matter, the desire to attract the broadest possible audience should never out-shout the need to present the kind of experiences that are more challenging yet ultimately profound and haunting, the kind that remind us of what it means to be human.
Extremely hard-hitting, indeed tough to sit through at times, STOPPED ON TRACK is ultimately deeply moving because it embraces the truth of the human condition with such candour and such empathy. It is a sincere and deeply felt examination of mortality, love, pain and family.
There are moments that make the viewer flinch - the young son undiplomatically asking his father if he'll inherit his mobile phone, is one - but these are precisely the scenes that will make the film live in the memory.