Christian Petzold, who won the Silver Bear at Berlin in 2012 for Barbara, has brought his latest film Phoenix to San Sebastián to compete in the Official Section. Starring his regular muse Nina Hoss, it is an investigation of Holocaust trauma and German denial of guilt over its past, that tells the story of Nelly, a disfigured concentration camp survivor, unrecognizable after facial reconstruction surgery, searching in the rubble of postwar Berlin for her husband who may well have betrayed her to the Nazis.
Asked whether forgiveness is possible after the Holocaust, the director felt that one of the most painful things that Germany did after the war was not to ask the thousands of survivors of the concentration camps for forgiveness. “How can they forgive if nobody asked them for forgiveness at the time? Petzold said at the press conference he gave after the screening of his film.
The representatives of the media praised the high quality of the performances and the impressive recreation of the devastated German capital and especially complimented the director on the explosive final scene in which Nelly literally finds a new voice with a touching rendition of Kurt Weill’s ‘Speak low’ that seems to encapsulate the themes of the film. A.E.