TIFF Next Wave: Dessau Dancers
Breakdancing. East Germany. Fighting the good fight through the power of dance.
Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, for the most part, this very charming film from director Jan Martin Scharf and writer Ruth Toma is just this: charming, and fairly straightforward. This story of an outsider, Frank, (Gordon Kämmerer, who is attending TIFF NEXT WAVE), finding himself and winning over the girl of his dreams Matti (Sonja Gerhardt), through the power of breakdance plays like is expected
But then, the expected ending, the dance-off between our heroes and the villainous state, the repressors of freedom, does not come to fruition. And the lead-up and build-up and assumed narrative leading showdown become something even greater, a reflexive morality tale about storytelling and the pursuit of the truth. In a way, this swerve makes for a grander statement. But in another, perhaps more selfish way, the audience is deprived of more breaking.
But ultimately, though the story belongs to Frank, the true star of the film is Matti, and Gerhardt manages to break out of what could have been a very limited role as a Manic Pixie East German Dream Girl. If she is ever to cross over into North American film, she is destined to be a star, (breakdancer or no). Regardless of who is doing the dancing, the action on screen is quite impressive, and clearly, the actors can move the way that they are supposed. But ultimately, what saves the film is its inventive spirit and energy, which dances off the screen, and makes for a real crowd-pleaser.