April 4th | 03:30 pm
Marija is a Ukrainian immigrant who ekes out a living as a hotel chambermaid in Dortmund, secretly saving to open her own hair salon. After losing her job, she is forced to work for abusive and shady men on the fringe of society. With the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment across the political landscape, the need to understand the plight and struggles of immigrants—especially women—could not be more urgent. MARIJA presents a portrait of a woman who, through focus and grit, fights for her self-worth and refuses to be victimized.MARIJA opens with a back-of-the-head tracking shot of the film’s titular character as she strides down a busy Dortmund neighbourhood street. The subject’s confident, determined walk shows a woman who approaches life with a no-nonsense, steely drive. As the director’s camera continues to stalk Marija, it’s apparent the film will be told from her perspective—and hers is a view of Germany that remains underexposed.
Marija is a Ukrainian immigrant who ekes out a living as a hotel chambermaid. She rigorously secrets away a cash portion of her monthly salary in her small, spartan apartment with the ambition that one day she’ll own a hair salon. When she’s fired from her job for pilfering, there are no tears, no anguished pleas. Marija resolutely, coldly accepts her fate.
To keep her apartment, she acts as an assistant and escort to her Turkish landlord. When their arrangement turns abusive, Marija is employed by Georg, a German businessman, as a translator. Her shrewd intelligence helps cement Georg’s shady deals with various Russian contractors. While his feelings for Marija extend beyond their business arrangement, her precise emotions remain impenetrable. But when Georg is arrested, Marija must chose between helping her benefactor and securing her own dreams.
With the rise of far-right, anti-immigrant sentiment across the political landscape, the need to understand the plight and struggles of immigrants on the fringes of our society could not be more urgent. MARIJA spotlights the exploitation and dehumanization of women, especially among the immigrant groups of Germany’s inner cities, and also posits a portrait of a woman who, through focus and grit, fights for her self-worth and refuses to be victimized.
Director Michael Koch
Screenplay Michael Koch, Juliane Großheim
Cinematography Bernhard Keller
Cast Margarita Breitkreiz, Georg Friedrich, Sahin Eryilmaz, Olga Dinnikova
Production Companies Pandora Film Produktion, in co-production with Hugofilm Productions, Little Shark Entertainment, in cooperation with WDR, ARTE, SRF
Length 100 min
Awards Ecumenical Prize (Special Mention) & Environment is Quality of Life Prize, Locarno 2016