Review: ‘My Dear Republik’

Rich Klubeck

Battles against an indifferent state make absorbing viewing in "My Dear Republik."

Now-elderly Austrian Friedrich Zawrel’s childhood incarceration at a notorious Nazi children’s “hospital” and his subsequent battle against his individual tormentor and an indifferent state make absorbing viewing in ironically titled docu “My Dear Republik.” Likely to be in demand at fests, item’s intense yet soft-spoken approach to the annals of Third Reich cruelty suggests small-screen sales and niche ancillary.

Banned from the Hitler Youth as a problem child, unruly adoptee Zawrel was institutionalized at the Spiegelgrund pediatric neurology clinic, the second largest euthanasia institution in Nazi Germany. Physically surviving the solitary confinement and hideous experimentation, Zawrel succumbs to mental stress that leads to post-war incarceration on lesser charges. Later recognizing a psychiatrist as an official from the Nazi clinic, the determined survivor begins a quest for justice from an alarmingly indifferent government. “I have no feeling for the Republic of Austria,” he says. Documaker Elisabeth Scharang’s approach is calm yet anguished, aided on-screen by journalist Florian Klenk and shrewdly chosen archival footage. Tech credits are fine. Brave use is made of Brechtian shock trio Tiger Lillies’ cabaret spin “Souvenirs,” and “Refugee” from alternative Jewish music combo Oi Va Voi, which translates as “Oh, dear God.”

My Dear Republik

Austria

Production

A WEGA Film production. (International sales: Austrian Film Commission, Vienna.) Produced by Veit Heiduschka.  Directed, written by Elisabeth Scharang.

Crew

Camera (color), Scharang, William Franck; editor, Alarich Lenz; music, Markus Moser. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), July 4, 2007. Original title: Meine liebe republic. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Friedrich Zawrel, Florian Klenk.
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