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Bliss (2021)

Sascha and Maria meet each other while working in a Berlin brothel and fall in love. Director Henrika Kull films in a semi-documentary form which incorporates real locations and actual sex workers.

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Sascha is a sex worker. She‘s in her early 40s and has been working in “Queens,“ a Berlin brothel, for years. She confidently moves through her world with a perpetual smile on her face. Waiting in the break room, lining up in front of potential johns, sex, doing laundry, smoking, chatting, kidding around with the colleagues, and waiting some more. When new colleague Maria appears, Sascha is immediately attracted to her. Maria, who is in her mid-twenties, is cool, has tattoos, wears long vintage coats, and has a trendy mullet. She writes feminist poetry and is queer. Maria is also attracted to the popular and relaxed Sascha, and they begin to flirt with looks and texts, a date in a food stall, and a first night together in the “Park Inn Hotel“ high above Berlin‘s city lights. Sascha and Maria are happy together for a bit.

Maria, who comes from Italy, sends messages to her dad every day. Money is flowing and she plans to buy all of Berlin. There‘s family in Sascha‘s life as well. Her 11 year old son Max lives in Brandenburg with the father, with windmills and a patchwork idyll. Riding the train to the country takes Sascha back to a past where she didn‘t find her place. When Sascha invites Maria to a village festival to introduce her to Max, she gets thrown back inside her old life. She‘s confrontational with the men who hit on her, while Maria deals with it in a more playful way and is rather turned off by Sascha‘s aggressive resistance. Sascha‘s confidence shakes under the demonstration of masculinity and heterosexuality, and her relationship with Maria begins to crumble

Director and screenwriter Henrike Kull focuses on both protagonists. Carolina Steinbrecher‘s camera gets close, so close, that the backgrounds sometimes blur, rolling past like the Brandenburg landscape out of the train window, images disintegrating in flickering lights or a face. Henrika Kull researched difference brothels for years and even worked behind the bar or as an assistant to the madame. She returned to one of those places with her actors for the shoot. The waiting rooms, the colleagues, the madame are “real.“ Adam Hoya, who plays Maria, is a sex worker, poet, model, actress, and instagram performer and can be seen in the documentary SEARCHING EVA under their old name Eva Collé.

The combination of reality and fiction film isn‘t a pretentious device in GLÜCK. The semi-documentary, or rather semi-fictional concept, that was also used in NOMADLAND, the Oscar winner in 2021, raises the narrative from a cliched fiction to a confident depiction of a milieu. There‘s no victimization or romanticization of sex work. Katharina Behrens, in her first lead role as Sascha, and Adam Hoya, play the fine nuances somewhere between attention, resistance, vulnerability, and lightness which make the characters so charismatic. They own their own bodies, are self-determined about their sexuality in a job that is often seen as the end of self-determination. Henrika Kull wanted to highlight the subversive power of self-determined sex workers. “Women born out of spite,“ Maria writes in her poem, which is quoted in the film. A spite that takes them out of the “female object“ role and doesn‘t turn the women into powerless beings, but brings them together, letting them grow and enabling them to also share moments of happiness.

Clarissa Lempp

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: Glück – Bliss
Deutschland 2021, 90 min
Language: German, English, Italian
Genre: Drama
Director: Henrika Kull
Author: Henrika Kull
DOP: Carolina Steinbrecher
Montage: Henrika Kull, Anna-Lena Engelhardt, Hannah Schwegel
Music: Dascha Dauenhauer
Distributor: Edition Salzgeber
Cast: Katharina Behrens, Adam Hoya, Nele Kayenberg, Jean-Luc Bubert, Petra Kauner
FSK: 16
Release: 22.07.2021

IMDB

Screenings

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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