Western, Valeska Grisebach’s latest work, was met with significant critical acclaim when it screened at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard last May. It’s a memorable film. It digs deep without seeming to. Grisebach is based in Berlin, and we met there earlier this year, to discuss her work.
Land of Mine starts quietly, with the sound of breathing. Soon someone roars with anger. A Danish officer. He launches himself with fury at marching German soldiers, beating them. World War II has just ended, and Denmark faces its German prisoners of war with bitter resentment.
The POWs are about to face a new hell on the sandy beaches and dunes of Denmark’s West Coast, under vast skies luminous even under massed clouds. The war is over but it is not yet peacetime for them. They are to clear landmines, and more than half of the prisoners will come to die or suffer atrocious injuries.