Film & TV

German Film Festival: Lubo

In 1939 Jenish street performer Lubo, is called up for military service. While away his wife is killed trying to stop the authorities from taking their children. Lubo is determined to reunite with his children and get justice for his people.

A sweeping and moving historical drama.

Based loosely on the 2003 novel Il Seminatore by Mario Cavatore, Lubo tells the story of the Jenish people through the figure of the eponymous Lubo. Nomadic, like most of the Jenish, he travels around with his wife and three children, creating exquisite street performances, one of which forms the opening sequence of the film. When he is called up to join the army in 1939, his family is left to fend for themselves, his wife is killed, and his children are taken away as part of the campaign known as the re-education of street children (Hilfswerk Für Die Kinder Der Landstrasse). He dedicates himself to finding his children, and seeking justice for all Jenish people.

Italian director Giorgio Diritti has made an interesting choice in this subject-matter. A lesser known eugenics-campaign, the Hilfswerk is still a shocking episode in modern history, and certainly one worthy of examination. Lubo himself is a fascinating and rich character, and Cavatore delivers an abundance of material from which screenwriter and director can draw.

Franz Rogowski delivers what must be a career-high performance as the eponymous Lubo, ably supported by a great cast including Valentina Bellè (Ferrari) and Joel Basman.

With exquisite cinematography from Benjamin Maier and brilliant production design from Giancarlo Basili, Lubo is a visual delight. Its densely narrative storyline, and manifold themes make it a true sweeping saga. But clocking in at just under three hours, it is at least an hour too long. It would have worked better as a small-screen mini-series. However, despite this, it is still an important and impressive piece of film.

Lubo screens as part of the HSBC German Film Festival at Palace Nova Eastend and Prospect, from 15th May to 5th June.

Click here for further details.

Click here for screening times, and to book tickets.

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