Oldenburg Festival: 5 Oddball Films Not to Miss

9:00 AM 9/10/2019

by Scott Roxborough

A German Western, Spanish sci-fi and a MAGA drama are among the highlights of the eclectic lineup.

In Full Bloom - Publicity still - H 2019
Courtesy of Oldenburg Film Festival

While other film festivals focus on the commercial and mainstream —from the studios, the big independents and, increasingly, the big streaming platforms —Germany's Oldenburg International Film Festival continues to let its freak flag fly.

The event, which runs Sept. 11-Sept. 15 in the northern German city, prides itself on celebrating "true indie cinema," films that break new ground and push the medium forward.

This year's event — the 26th anniversary — is no different. The Hollywood Reporter has picked five films running in Oldenburg that break the rules, from a German Western starring recent refugees to a Spanish sci-fi spy thriller set in Ethiopia and MAGA drama that feels ripped from the headlines.

  • 'Adamstown'

    If Wes Anderson adapted a German comic book about a Wild West town filled with talking animals and then cast amateur actors — many of them recent refugees — to play the leading roles, the result might look something like Patrick Merz and Henning Wötzel-Herber's Adamstown. Oh, and it's a musical, too.

  • 'Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway'

    The world's first Estonian-Ethiopian co-production is billed, by its Spanish-born director, Miguel Llansó, as a "WTF thriller." With a plot that includes CIA agents sporting Robert Redford and Richard Pryor face masks, a giant death ray and the second (and maybe third) coming of the Messiah, you can see his point. Think a no-budget version of The Matrix made by someone with unfettered access to powerful psychedelics.

  • 'Magnetic Pathways'

    Speaking of psychedelia, Portuguese director Edgar Pêra takes off on the ultimate bad trip in this kaleidoscopic drama focused on a single day and night in the life of Raymond Vachs (French cinema legend Dominique Pinon) who endures 24 hours of humiliation during his daughter's wedding as the city around him begins to collapse, as if in tune with the unraveling of his own internal convictions.

  • 'Cuck'

    In his debut feature, Rob Lambert finds empathy for one of the nastiest expressions of Trump's Make America Great Again, in a story of an angry, unemployed loser (Zachary Ray Sherman) — stuck caring for his ailing mother (Sally Kirkland) — who is drawn into the world of online extremism.

  • 'In Full Bloom'

    This tale of a down-and-out boxer given one last shot against the reigning champ is fairly standard, Rocky-style stuff. The twist is the setting: post-World War II Japan, with the pugilists — a punch-drunk American and the reigning Japanese champion — standing in for the opposing factions of the New World Order.

    This story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.