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by Elfi Mikesch
Reality and imagination. Past and present. War and peace. Pain and serenity. In Fever, all these elements play the leading role, they often get mixed up, they confuse us, but, all together, they point the finger directly at every war, which is responsible for ruining the lives of millions of people.
Images of bygone days. A painful but also tender family history to be discovered. A difficult past and a present where hope finally seems to take centre stage. Renowned photographer, director of photography and filmmaker Elfi Mikesch drew inspiration from her own childhood when staging Fever (2014) and, at the same time, tried to investigate her own past and better understand the figure of her father. An undoubtedly complicated task, which, however, through memories and pictures can find its own solution.
The story staged is that of Franziska (played by Eva Mattes), a renowned photographer who one day decides to travel to Novi Sad, a town her father (Martin Wuttke) has always told her about. The man, who was stationed for years as a legionnaire in North Africa, came home from the war deeply changed. This, of course, had a strong influence on the lives of young Franziska and her younger brother. Can a journey into the past possibly reveal some family secrets and make the protagonist finally make peace with her past?
Fever, then, is a delicate and moving journey through Franziska’s (and, of course, Elfi Mikesch’s) life. Past and present meet again and again, the dimness of the rooms in the house where the protagonist lived as a child contrasts with the warm, bright light that enters through the train window into the compartment where Franziska sits as an adult. The past is often painful, but also full of pleasant moments in which the child played with her brother, chatted with a charming neighbour and joked with her parents. Yet what she perceived – and what her father told her – was far from the truth. A truth that will slowly be revealed not only by old photographs, but also by the people who were part of her father’s life, who will visit the young Franziska in her dreams, in her bedroom, in a forest.
Reality and imagination. Past and present. War and peace. Pain and serenity. In Fever, all these elements play the leading role, they often get mixed up, they confuse us, but, all together, they point the finger directly at wars, at every war, which is responsible for ruining the lives of millions of people. Elfi Mikesch expresses her theories clearly and explicitly, but, at the same time, skilfully avoids any rhetoric or cliché. Her camera moves delicately around the characters of Franziska as a child and Franziska as an adult and relies on the talent of the entire cast. Images from the past return to memory through old photographs. And in the same way, cinema and photography meet, pursue the same goal, make the present better through a delicate investigation of the past.
Elfi Mikesch’s long experience as a photographer, her childhood and the difficult relationship with her father make Fever her most intimate and personal film. A tender and delicate family story and a difficult inner journey. Secrets from the past that, perhaps, only a new light will be able to reveal.
Original title: Fieber
Directed by: Elfi Mikesch
Country/year: Austria, Luxembourg / 2014
Running time: 80’
Cast: Carolina Cardoso, Eva Mattes, Martin Wuttke, Nicole Max, Louis Wagner, Luc Lamesch, Sascha Ley, Suzana Vukovic, Astrid Weiss, Oleg Zhukov, Luc Feit, André Jung, Nilton Martins, Marie Jung, Konstantin Rommelfangen, Igor Orovac, Iren Abraham, Rade Kojadinovic, Aleksandra Pleskonjic
Screenplay: Elfi Mikesch, Kathrin Resetarits
Cinematography: Jerzy Palacz
Produced by: Amour Fou Luxembourg, Amour Fou Vienna, Albolina Film