Arts and Culture

“I feel like disco” - A film between normality and extraordinariness

Friday, January 24, 2014
The German film Ich fühl mich Disco (I feel like disco) by Axel Ranisch from the year 2013 tells the story of a father and a son who learn to grow together in face of many challenging situations. It is a film about love, about death and about homosexuality – but first of all, it is a film about normal family life that is often not as normal as it seems.
Imagine a high-rise district in the east of Berlin, in a part of the city that many people who live in the hipper or richer parts of Berlin have many negative prejudices against, a part of Berlin that is often being associated with low education levels, heteronormative family structures or broken families and especially with racism and right wing radicalism. Imagine a normative looking family with a thin blond mother, a pretty corpulent father and a fat teenage son with a dental brace and glasses. While the mother stays at home, the father works as a high diving trainer in an indoor swimming pool. In his leisure time, the father likes to watch football games, drink bear and eat sausages and potato salad. He wants his son, who would like to play piano and does not show any interest in girls, to act more like a ’real man’ and he leaves the room when two men kiss in the TV. On the first glance, it is this kind of family that is often being associated with representing the more unpopular ideas about what one might call something like a ’German culture’.
But on the second glance, it becomes clear that things are not quite as normal as they first seem to be (or does the film teach us that there is, in general, not really such a thing like normality?). While father Hanno does not show any understanding for his son Flori, Flori and his mother Monika are very close. When Hanno is at work, they go on ’dream journeys’ together or dress up in funky costumes and dance to the music of the German hit singer Christian Steiffen. Together, they create their own fantastic world. And it is Monika who manages to arbitrate between this delightful glittering world that Flori and she create together and the general normative family life with father Hanno.
But one day Monika falls into a coma and nothing is like it was before. From now on, Hanno and Flori have to manage their life together – and to negotiate their very different ideas about life with each other. In the beginning this is not easy at all. But with the time, Hanno starts to show real interest in his son – and discovers things that he had no clue about before. Apart from each other and yet together father and son struggle with their grief and the difficult new situation, with each other – and with the new awakening romantic feelings that Flori starts to discover when he meets Radu, one of the learner-swimmers of his father.
The great beauty of this film is that it manages to constantly play between sorrow and joy, normality and extraordinariness, reality and imagination, affection and aversion. The story is told in a very calm and simple way, but it is never simplifying or flat. Instead, it is full of creativity, imagination and great depth. It is one of the films where you cannot foresee what will happen next and where every scene seems like a nice surprise. It is one of the films that you leave with a range of different thoughts and feelings and that you still think about the next day. It is a film that manages to explore the coming out of teenagers widely without making a big fuss about it and therefore leaves the audience with the impression that homosexuality is actually something really – äääähm – normal. At least as far as one can call the imbroglio of puberty and the discovery of one’s own sexuality normal.
The director of the film, Axel Ranisch, was born in 1983 in Berlin, not far from the place where the film takes places. The film is not exactly his autobiography, but it tells a lot about Axel’s own life. In his films, being fat and being homosexual are important factors – two factors that also played and play a great role in his own life. Axel is widely seen as one of the most promising and talented young directors in Germany. His films are shown on many film festivals and won various awards. In 2011, he founded the production company Sehr gute Filme (Very Good Films) together with some friends. Besides being a director, he also acts himself and writes operas. If you are interested in Axel’s work, please check out his website:
I feel like disco was displayed in the 3rd KuirFest in Ankara held on January 16-23.  
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