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The Humanitarians

2014 DOK Leipzig, Doc Young Cinema Competition
Germany | 2014 | 99 min. | German | English subtitles | German Premiere
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The Humanitarians | Die Menschenliebe

It happens in the background, quite casually: a woman in a wheelchair, a minor character, smiles and waves. Suddenly her wheelchair takes off and leaves the earth with her. Anyone who notices this must wonder what is still documentary content here. In fact, this film sends out a number of signals that it doesn’t want to draw a categorical line between documentary and fiction. Its deliberate haziness, which continually tests the audience’s perception, corresponds with its refusal to accept the categories of “healthy” and “handicapped”. After all, everybody wants to live sexuality and love equally – and this brings us to the subject. There is Joachim on the one hand, who lives alone, seems completely healthy and yet lives in a grey area between relative independence and patronisation, especially by his sister who dismisses his infatuation with a prostitute as an anomaly. The subjective camera forces us to take Joachim’s perspective, the uncomfortable perspective of a stalker. Sven on the other hand, the protagonist of the second chapter, is physically deformed and wheelchair bound but has a remarkably strong awareness of his needs, which he articulates frankly and satisfies with the help of male and female prostitutes. His longing for love, however, is not fulfilled. What would it take for that to happen? A film that keeps raising questions that only the viewer can answer.

Lars Meyer
Original Title: Die Menschenliebe
Country: Germany
Year: 2014
Language: German
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 99 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Maximilian Haslberger
Producer: Jasper Mielke, Martin Backhaus
Cinematographer: Sebastian Mez
Editor: Katharina Fiedler
Animation: Martin Backhaus
Sound: Martin Backhaus, Jochen Jezussek
Script: Maximilian Haslberger
Maximilian Haslberger

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The texts to the Documentary Competition films and the International Programme films were written by the members of the selection committee. All quotes from DOK Leipzig catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author’s name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.