68th Berlin International Film Festival—Part 4
Styx and Eldorado: Once again on the plight of refugees
22 March 2018
This is the fourth in a series of articles on the recent Berlin International Film Festival, the Berlinale, held February 15-25, 2018. The first part was posted March 14, the second on March 16 and the third on March 20.
Two years ago, the European refugee crisis played a central role at the Berlin film festival with the documentary Fire At Sea ( Fuocoammare ) by Italian director Gianfranco Rosi taking the festival’s main prize. Fire at Sea graphically portrayed the plight of refugees attempting to enter Europe, although it essentially concluded with an appeal to the European Union (EU) to rethink its policies.
Following a dearth of films dealing with the theme at the 2017 Berlinale, it was significant that a handful of movies this year dealt powerfully and insightfully dealt with the EU’s criminal abuse of refugees.
Styx by the Austrian director Wolfgang Fischer grabs our attention from the start with a dramatic road accident. The accident provides the backdrop for introducing the main character in the film, the paramedic Rieke (Susanne Wolff). In her 40s, Rieke is self-assured, proficient and ready for the holiday of a lifetime. She plans to sail a 12-metre yacht singlehandedly from Gibraltar to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, some halfway between Africa and South America.
For long stretches, Styx has little dialogue. Instead, we are introduced to the complex mechanics of sailing a small boat in the middle of the ocean, including navigating a fierce nighttime storm. Most of the filming took place on the high seas and the cinematography vividly depicts the enormous challenges involved in combatting the…