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Murray State University Cinema International Presents German Comedy "Isi & Ossi" This Week

Murray State's Cinema International continues its Spring 2024 season with two screenings of the German comedy Isi & Ossi. The film follows a billionaire's daughter and a poor would-be prize boxer who date with ulterior motives and not out of love. Daniel Hurt speaks with Cinema International director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul and Murray State German professor Dr. Roxane Riegler ahead of the screenings. As Riegler explains, the film is a twist on the classic Shakespearean Romeo and Juliet story that highlights social divides and migration issues in Germany.

While the film is a comedy, Riegler says there are serious social commentaries, including class and cultural divides. It also concerns relationships between the two titular characters and their parents. "There are two cities, Heidelberg and Mannheim," Riegler explains. "Heidelberg houses the oldest university in Germany. It is a bourgeois, middle-class town, artsy, beautiful, touristy, and romantic. On the other side is Mannheim, which is an urban industrial town with low-income housing. These are the two extremes, and the two main characters fall into those two extremes."

Riegler continues, "The girl [Isi] comes from a rich family, and the boy [Ossi] comes from a poor family. On top of everything, he comes from East Germany to West Germany — after the wall comes down, of course. That's why he's called Ossi. This is a term for people who used to live in the GDR."

Riegler says that the most powerful scenes in the movie are when the stereotypes get broken down and the characters develop their authentic selves. “For example, when we meet the rich mother, at first, you think she's stuck up and is only interested in her art,” she says. “But then we get to know her from at a deeper level, and you see she’s like a real person. Their personalities come through, and you see people who want to be happy and have fulfilled lives.”

Slang is a major part of the film, and Rieger says it's essential to utilize the subtitles — even for those who feel comfortable with the German language. "If you do not understand the translation, you would miss major themes and plot points," she explains. "The language is youth language. It's slang. It's not only a class thing; it's a generational thing. For German learners, they might not understand everything. Luckily, there are subtitles. But I also have to say that some subtitles have been badly translated. It's not only this movie. It's in general."

Cinema International director Dr. Thérèse St. Paul says that while the comedy may be over the top, there is a lot in the film that might resonate with younger audiences, including socioeconomic and familial relationships. "[The film] makes you realize that some of these things resonate with young people today," St. Paul says. "These are universal themes. You know, sometimes you have real difficulties with your families when you don't follow their line. These are some things that folks might be able to identify with."

Murray State University's Cinema International presents Isi & Ossi on Thursday, April 4, and Saturday, April 6. Both screenings are at 7:30 pm in Faculty Hall, room 208. A discussion will follow each screening. Both the screenings and post-film discussions are free and open to the public.

For more information on the Cinema International program, including upcoming screenings and how to donate, visit its website.

Hurt is a Livingston County native and has been a political consultant for a little over a decade. He currently hosts a local talk show “Daniel Hurt Presents”, produced by Paducah2, which features live musical performances, academic discussion, and community spotlights.
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