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A Voluntary Year Das freiwillige Jahr

Ulrich Köhler, Henner Winckler / Germany / 2019 / 86 min

This family drama tells the story of a father who falls victim to his own unrealised dreams and refuses to accept the fact that he no longer has control of his adolescent daughter’s life.

festivals, awards Locarno 2019


Urs has a busy life, bringing up his teenage daughter Jette alone, taking care of his alcoholic brother and helping out in the nearby refugee home. He urges Jette to take a year off before university and do social work in South America: Urs is determined that she should have a free, independent life rather than being stuck in the provinces like him. But Jette is torn between living up to her father's expectations and being with her boyfriend Mario. At the last moment, instead of boarding the plane for Costa Rica she sneaks back and hides in a caravan belonging to Mario’s parents at the outskirts of the village. Urs is taught a painful lesson about the limits of his tolerance and ultimately realises that he can't force other people to be happy.

“From my point of view, when we were editing and writing, it was easier to do that together because you had time, so you could compare different versions. Mostly, we agreed because it was very clear which edit, or which dialogue was better. The difficult phase is during the shoot because there is a lot of time pressure. If you have two differing opinions, there’s no time to try both out, and you have to make a decision.” (Henner Winckler)

Ulrich Köhler
Born in 1969, Köhler studied fine arts in France, and philosophy and visual communication in Hamburg. Windows on Monday won the Kingfisher Award at the 2007 Ljubljana International Film Festival. Sleeping Sickness premiered in competition at the Berlinale in 2011 and won the Silver Bear for Best Directing.

Henner Winckler
An acclaimed screenwriter and director born in 1969. He studied at the Academy of Art and Design in Offenbach, followed by studies in visual communication and film at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg.

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