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Kaifeck Murder

(Hinter Kaifeck)

North american Premiere

  • Germany 2009
  • 86 min
  • 35mm
  • German with English subtitles
North American Premiere

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Director: Esther Gronenborn
Screenplay: Christian Limmer, Sönke Lars Neuwöhner
Cast: Benno Fürmann, Alexandra Maria Lara, Henry Stange, Waldemar Kobus
Producers: Monika Raebel
Distributor: Bavaria Film International


A stern and driven man, Marc (Benno Fürmann, JERICHOW) has chosen to use his latest photography assignment as a way of getting to know Tyll, the son he barely sees since divorcing his mother. Despite Marc's best intentions, though, things aren't going so well. He has no clue how to relate to the boy, snapping at him when Tyll touches his expensive equipment, while the boy simply slides deeper and deeper into boredom. The trip is on the verge of becoming an unmitigated disaster until the pair stumble across the remote village of Kaifeck, a village celebrating an obscure after-Christmas rite in which the residents dress up as monsters to scare away the local demons. Kaifeck seems a godsend to the pair. It is exactly the sort of thing Marc is meant to be photographing and Tyll finally has a break from the monotony of the road. The guest house where they stay is hosted by a beautiful young woman who is clearly interested in Marc. Could things get any better? Well, frankly, it would be hard for them to get much worse. Marc is soon plagued by visions of a family brutally murdered in their own home, a farmstead just outside of town, a generation earlier. He wakes in the morning more exhausted than when he went to sleep, covered in mud and fully clothed. The interesting rock that Tyll finds turns out to be a fragment of human skull. And the hostility of the locals is slowly but undeniably growing towards this intruder in their midst. What happened here? What is Marc's connection to it? And could it all be happening again?

Equal parts supernatural thriller and murder mystery, KAIFECK MURDER is a pitch-perfect fusion of the two genres, a slow-building masterpiece of atmosphere and dread. Anchored by stellar performances from Fürmann and female lead Alexandra Maria Lara (DOWNFALL, CONTROL), director Esther Gronenborn crafts one impeccable piece of work, pitching the film to perfectly match Marc's mental state as he slowly loses control and, doubting his own grip on reality, slides into paranoia. Represented internationally by the same company that brought LET THE RIGHT ONE IN to the masses, KAIFECK MURDER succeeds for all the same reasons. This is beautifully crafted, emotionally compelling stuff. Quite simply one of the best films of the year.

—Todd Brown

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