AFIRE (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Another Christian Petzold film, another Berlinale award winning banger. His is a steady history of home town wins at the revered German festival, starting as far back as 2003’s Wolfsburg, with Barbara (2012) and Undine (2020) also winning major awards, establishing a strong history that this year’s Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize for Afire continues. Unarguably one of the country’s strongest filmmakers working today, Afire reveals Petzold as someone who is comfortably at the top of their game. It’s a film so technically tight and made with such integrity and precision that it’s a struggle to keep one’s jaw from dropping; it’s an absolute delight to watch.

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AFIRE – Review by Diane Carson

Afire masterfully depicts a taciturn, insecure writer. It takes mere minutes to settle into German writer/director Christian Petzold’s Afire, the title suggesting its incendiary depths. These develop through the interactions of Leon, Felix, Nadja, and Devid, the four sharing photographer Felix’s holiday retreat near Germany’s Baltic Sea.

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UNDINE – Review by Liz Braun

A fairy tale gets a modern retelling in Undine, a symbol-laden love story from German director Christian Petzold (Phoenix; Transit). The 19th century Undine (by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque) was a water nymph who marries a human to get a soul; there are strings attached, however. It’s the same territory as Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, or any other dark fable prior to being Disneyfied.

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