Chattanooga Film Festival: A Pure Place (2021)

Irina (Greta Bohacek) and her brother Paul (Claude Heinrich) are Firstlings, the young members of a cult based around an upper caste that strives to remain pure and clean, while its opposite lower members are devoted to making soap, herding pigs and living in darkness and filth. All decisions are made by Fust (Sam Louwyck), who has set himself up as a god-like figure and built his own island world based around Greek and Teutonic mythology. In fact, the goddess Hygieia, who embodies health and cleanliness while being the source of the word hygiene, is worshipped by the cultists.

The promise of Fust is that those who labor in the mud will one day rise to the world above and Irina gets that chance, as a scan shows that her organs are completely milky white, which means something to the strange German man whose family built an empire upon soap which has allowed him to be a deity on Earth. She leaves Paul behind, but their individual stories show that they both remain individuals within this groupthink: she is hand-picked to embody the goddess yet still sees the dirt that exists even on the highest of levels while he starts to ferment a revolution.

“The stage is the intermediate realm upon which we may encounter the gods,” is a statement that Fust makes, but perhaps movies are also that place. This film — directed and co-written* by Nikias Chryssos (Der Bunker) — looks rich and gorgeous, deftly setting apart the united yet divided worlds that make up this film’s world. Cinematographer Yoshi Heimrath makes it look even better, as the close of the movie allows multiple colors to intrude into the pure light and sheer dark that we have emerged from.

Want to see it for yourself? It’s now playing as part of the Chattanooga Film Fest. Virtual tickets are available at www.chattfilmfest.org/

*With Lars Henning Jung.

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