THE GARDEN

Please rate this film for the Audience Award



In the 1970s, one extended family’s lazy days of idyllic summer are interrupted by simmering rivalries, a foreboding local disappearance, and thorny disagreements about the future.

It was just one lightning bolt that felled Grandma Sophie’s favorite tree in the garden. The damage it caused to her home is not substantial, but electrical lines were brought down. The timing is auspicious: earlier in the day Sophie was buried. As three generations of her family gather after the funeral on her property—not only to commemorate her life but also to usher in the start of the languid, idle days of summer—the thorny matter of who will inherit Sophie’s property is alluded to but not directly addressed.

Set in the 1970s, Sonja Maria Kröner’s feature debut slowly unspools in and around the sun-dappled lawns and forested clumps of Sophie’s home and the adjacent houses. While the adults pass the time sitting in garden chairs, watering the vegetables or chopping wood, the children build a tree house, play on a tire swing, and frolic in their immediate environs.

But the colorful summer idyll is darkened by shades of unease. “Eight-year-old Nina C. from Munich has disappeared,” the wireless radio announces. The children are instructed not to wander off until the kidnapper has been apprehended. Young Jana discovers newspaper cuttings about the disappearance of Nina C. on the property of the elderly next-door neighbor, whose garden is littered with dismembered dolls.  The lawns are infested with wasps. A tally to see which of the children can kill the most stinging insects creates new rivalries. One of the adults is reprimanded for nude sunbathing.

Set against the backdrop of family discord (some wish to sell Sophie’s beloved home; others don’t), long-brewing resentments and sibling hostility begin to puncture the calm of the long summer day.

New York Premiere

Genre Drama
Category Feature
Director & Screenplay Sonja Maria Kröner
Cinematography Julia Daschner
Cast Thomas Loibl, Laura Tonke, Ursula Werner, Günther Maria Halmer, Christine Schorn, Inge Maux, Mavie Hörbiger, Emilia Pieske
Producers Philipp Worm, Tobias Walker
Production Companies Walker+Worm Film/Munich, in co-production with WDR, BR
Length 97 min
Festivals Munich 2017, Toronto 2017, Sao Paulo 2017, Thessaloniki 2017, ZINEBI – International Festival of Documentary and Short Film of Bilbao 2017, Black Nights Tallinn 2017, Göteborg 2018

Awards Best Production & Best Direction Munich 2017, Bavarian Film Prize 2017 (Best Screenplay)

Sonja Maria Kröner was born in 1979 in Munich. She studied literature and philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University and later screenwriting and directing at the University of Television and Film Munich. In 2009 she received a media art scholarship from the Kirch Foundation in order to complete her video installation SIX DOORS – a peep show of six women in six different life stages. The installation was presented at the Great Art Exhibition in Munich’s Haus der Kunst in 2010. Her graduation film ZUCCHINIBLÜTEN (2012) was screened at numerous festivals, including the Hof International Film Festival. She works as a video artist, screenwriter, and director.

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