Updated: Nov 18, 2018
Directed by: Daniel Michalos
Starring: Friederike Hammer, Nils Wiegand & Christiane Nothofer
Short Film Review by: Chris Olson
Filmmaking is at its best when humanity gets shaken to its core. Films that dare to tackle the most formidable of topics should be given our full attention, especially when the calibre is as high as it is in Daniel Michalos’s latest endeavour. Atmospheric and soaking with emotional depth, short film Sternenkind is about the journey of Julia (Friekerike Hammer) and her partner Hannes (Nils Wiegand) after they find out their baby-to-be will sadly not make it to term due to a lethal illness.
There is an isolated senselessness to Michalos’s short film that captures the chaotic nature of the plight these characters find themselves gripped by. Furthermore Sternenkind contains a bleak cinematic landscape riddled with emotive signposts that captures the anguished, tumultuous atmosphere of the story with immense results. Every frame seems to have been carefully chosen as an accompaniment to the tapestry of this tragic sequence.
The use of colour is notable in this short; with the middle section of the film in black and white, versus the colour that bookends the beginning and end, painfully reflecting the arduous chapter in this couple’s life. This aesthetic choice is jolting at first, but manages to create a fantastic depth to the story which unfolds, as the couple suffer internally as much as the foetus does.
When the couple ditch their city life for the countryside in order to gain some respite from the inevitably invasive surroundings that comes with being an expectant couple, the sparseness of the landscape is pierced by Julia’s growing turmoil and rage. She bursts into a field after blistering through a forest, revealing the wildness of her emotions against the natural elements which control her.
The performances are fantastic, especially Hammer. She occupies the screen with a compelling presence whilst delivering an inescapably difficult turn. Wiegand is also excellent as the film’s counterweight - the ineffective aloofness to Julia’s bubbling grief.
Not for the faint hearted, Sternenkind is a short film that is heavy in all the right places. The movie is a truly great achievement that should be lauded for its bold storytelling and fierce filmmaking.