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MSU Cinema International Closes German Mini-Series with 2019 Crime Thriller "Freies Land"

Murray State's Cinema International presents "Freies Land" (A Free Country) on Thursday, February 23rd, and Saturday, February 25th.
Murray State's Cinema International presents "Freies Land" (A Free Country) on Thursday, February 23rd, and Saturday, February 25th.

Murray State's Cinema International closes its mini-German film series with the 2019 crime thriller Freies Land, or A Free Country, directed by Christian Alvart with Felix Krammer, Trystan Pütter, and Nurit Hirschfeld. Austin Carter speaks with program director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul ahead of the screenings.

From the MSU Cinema International website:

"A crime thriller in which two cops investigate the disappearance of two teen sisters in a remote town, where it seems like everyone has something to hide—including the bodies. This movie is a remake of the Spanish thriller La Isla Minima, or Marshland, by director Alberto Rodríguez Librero. In this film, the location is changed from Spain in 1980 after Franco's death to 1992 East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall."

Freies Land is focused on two policemen investigating the disappearance of two teen sisters in a remote town on the border of Poland. "It's this era of the reunification of East and West Germany," St. Paul explains. "We have two cops; one's from the west, Berlin, and the other is local [east]. And we soon discover that there are shady dealings going on not only with the disappearance of these two teens, but there's a lot the local people are hiding."

"We have this western, very polished cop who wants to do a proper investigation using western methods, which are very based on facts," she continues. The eastern cop is a former Stasi member, "the Gestapo-type military police of the east Germans. Violence was part of their methods. So, he's a shady character."

"They're thrown together having to solve this murder mystery, and that's the whole crux of the story," St. Paul says. "We have opposing views, methods, east and west—we have to find a compromise. They try to evolve, in a way. The east German tries to become more west, tames his methods, and shows a good side, whereas the western guy starts thinking, 'I have to go along with the Stasi in this area and adopt some of his rather violent methods.' We have a bit of both. It's not very black and white."

"It's a very good thriller," St. Paul continues. "It keeps you on your toes. But there's the cultural layer that comes to realize that a lot of people who were active and making a lot of money through crime in East Germany are still acting like that under reunification, and they don't want that to change. They certainly want to discourage the police from putting their nose in there, especially the western policemen sent from Berlin. We see that resistance and hush-hush that everybody plays with. People are afraid to talk—especially the parents of the victims. They're basically forgotten because the local criminals have the upper hand."

A public discussion will follow both screenings of the film. "I think [the film] has a political background, and I hope the discussion will develop that. It not only applies to countries like Germany. There's been Spain, a regime that was very dictatorial. There are still people who believe in those things and have to live under a democratic country. The undercurrents are still there. There's the neo-nazi movement. I think that's very important to discuss."

MSU Cinema International presents Freies Land on Thursday, February 23rd, and Saturday, February 25th, at 7:30 pm in Faculty Hall, room 208. The screenings are free and open to the public. For more information on the Cinema International program, including how to donate, visit its website.

Austin Carter is a Murray State grad and has been involved with WKMS since he was in high school. Over the years he has been a producer for WKMS and has hosted several music shows, but now calls Morning Edition his home each weekday morning.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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