Film review: Curveball, 2020 (Germany) – premiering in South Africa at The European Film Festival

Title: Curveball Genre: Political drama Where: European Film Festival, South Africa 2020 Language: German, English and English subtitlesRunning time: One hour, 48 minutes Premiere: South African premiere When: November 12-22, 2020 Bookings:

Curveball (2020, Germany) is premiering in South Africa, at the 2020 European Film Festival.  Screenings are free with the exception of I am Greta which is being screened as a fundraiser to support a climate change charity (R50 a ticket).

Curveball is described as a “political drama” on the site of European Film Festival, South Africa 2020. It is widely tagged elsewhere as a “political satire”.  The ‘satire’ left me baffled. The film is based on “true” happenings in the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003. The thrust of the film, is how certain elements of the German government apparently canoodled with George W. Bush to oust Saddam Hussein, using a questionable source providing “intelligence”.

Arndt Wolf (played by Sebastian Blomberg) is the central protagonist – a scientist who is a specialist in biological weaponry. He looks confused as he stumbles from situation to situation. There is a daughter that he can’t get a fix on and keep tabs on. He blunders his way through the film and attempts to woo and placate the source.

Yeah, fake news is topical. We have outgoing President Trump (hopefully, he will go) and his dissemination of fake everything. We have had plenty fake news in South Africa. It is shocking that politicians manipulate fears; arrange truth as they will; go to war and cause mass destruction.  It is creepy how publicity firms influence and disseminate narratives that are blithely bought into. Back in South Africa, we have the award winning Influence (directed by Diana Neille and Richard Poplak). Influence is a documentary and Curveball is a fictionalised film, inspired by real events; two different genres, I get that. Influence provides gripping insights into selling a Gupta and Zuma narrative which duped many. Curveball doesn’t really add anything to my understanding of the period; motivations, complicity and fabrication in the prelude to the Iraq War in 2003. 

I liked the design a lot –first generation mobile phones, a car phone on a twirly plastic leash (love that) and the spy craft (this was before encrypted WhatsApp and other platforms). I liked the dark and brooding cinematography (Sten Mende) with the plotters and schemers slinking about in the cover of darkness.

Click into the zoom panel at 6pm (CAT – Central African Time) on Wednesday November 18, 2020: Films and Fake News- an unfortunate true story. Filmmakers and investigative journalists discuss the use of film in spreading fake news and exposing fake news: Johannes Naber (director, Curveball), Holger Stark (journalist, Die Zeit), Diana Neille (co-Director, Influence), Richard Poplak (co-director Influence). Moderator: Africa Melane.

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