Great Freedom

Director Sebastian Meise / 2021 / Austria,Germany

In this achingly romantic postwar-set film, which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize, a man imprisoned for his sexuality finds that love offers sweet release.

After being interned at Auschwitz during WWII, Hans Hoffman enjoys no freedom upon liberation. Instead, he’s immediately transferred to prison, where he finds himself returning, again and again, over the years. His constant crime? Hans is gay – a jailable offence according to Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code. But during his stints in and out of the clink, Hans forms an unlikely friendship that, in time, develops into something deeper.

Mostly shot on site at a disused prison in Magdeburg, the second feature film from award-winning director Sebastian Meise is driven by a bravura performance from Franz Rogowski, whose onscreen magnetism has previously won over MIFF audiences in Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria (2015), Michael Haneke’s Happy End (2017) and Christian Petzold’s Transit (2018). As Hans’ long-time cellmate and eventual paramour, veteran actor Georg Friedrich is equally captivating, portraying the character’s growing affection with finely tuned cadence. A passionate tale of hope and the life-affirming power of love, Great Freedom will leave your heart aroused.

“Stark, shocking and beautiful … A contemplative psychological study of the effects of incarceration, and beyond that, an unconventional love story, tender but unsentimental.” – Hollywood Reporter

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