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Wood and Water. 2021. Germany/France/Hong Kong. Directed by Jonas Bak. In Cantonese, English, German; English subtitles. 79 min.
With seamless grace, German director Jonas Bak moves from the tall spires of the Black Forest to the teeming skyscrapers of Hong Kong in his tranquil, deeply moving feature debut. Newly retired from her church job, Anke dreams of spending time with her grown children—including her uncommunicative and elusive son, Max, who has been living for years in Hong Kong, and who is unable to join his mother and sister back in Germany due to the ongoing pro-democracy protests. In a daring decision, Anke, though suffering from depression and anxiety, travels to Hong Kong to find Max and perhaps also herself. In his hushed, wholly original approach to this fish-out-of-water set-up, Bak constructs a gentle, ambiguous fable of becoming, shot on 16mm and featuring a wondrous, naturalistic performance by his own mother, Anke Bak. A selection of New Directors/New Films 2021. Special thanks to German Films.