MANIFF 2020: Traumfabrik
Set in Berlin in 1961, Martin Schreier’s Traumfabrik (Dream Factory) tells a romantic love story set on the backdrop of the Cold War and the separation of East and West Berlin. Unlike most films set in this era, Traumfabrik is light-hearted and entertaining; it has all the glee of a musical, but without the singing.
Not just a classic love story between two people, Traumfabrik is also an ode to cinema. The film is set in the famous Babelsberg Studio, where film extra Emil (Dennis Mojen) falls in love with French actress Milou (Emilia Schüle), who is there shooting a film.
However, following the complete separation of Berlin, Milou returns to France and Emil is unable to contact her. The rest of the film sees Emil attempt to construct a scenario that would bring Milou back to East Germany.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks as an elderly Emil recounts the love story between himself and Milou to his grandson. This gives Schreier a certain amount of liberty with his direction; since the story is a personal account, Schreier is able to offer a more nuanced perspective of the time. Thus, Traumfabrik presents a more human side to the political context.
The humour is slightly forced, but overall it is an enjoyable, feel-good film, that platforms some of Germany’s rising talent in both acting and directing.