A coproduction with filmmaker, artist and critic Nadine Poulain, U-977 - 66 DAYS UNDER WATER is a creative documentary about the human quest for freedom and self-determination.
After the selflessness and obedience of wartime, after the sublimation of the chaos of youth for the rigid order of the prosecution of a pitiless war, Heinz Schäffer, 25-year old U-boat commander, and the majority of his equally young crew, opted to risk their lives in escaping the North Sea and certain imprisonment for the narrow promise of freedom in Argentina.
Filmmaker Poulain never met Schäffer, her grandfather, who died in 1979 in Germany.
U-977 is equally an inquisition on memory and reflection itself. Three veterans take the viewer on a journey of what it was like to be a German submariner in the Second World War, offering technical and historical knowledge, but above all the experience of that war and their journey as human beings.
With U-977, the filmmaker aims to enter into a dialogue with German veterans of the Second World War and, after a protracted period of silence and fear, to give them a voice, no matter how complicated. U-977 invokes an active participation from the spectator, bringing them into close, experiential proximity to the subjects and the stories they tell.
U-977 employs a sophisticated visual storytelling style, influenced – but not overwhelmed by – the work of Bela Tarr, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Thomas Joshua Cooper, the aesthetics of film noir and the employment of light contrast to enhance the experience of the journey into the depths, into the unknown. It is a film for people interested in history, but also those interested in artistic and documentary filmmaking.
Nadine Poulain studied fine art and film in London and New Zealand. She is currently based in Berlin, where she works on several projects. Poulain has created cinematic installation and at present works with experimental and documentary film. The romantic tradition and minimal and abstract art inform her practice, and to date her films have included complex soundscapes. Whilst working with natural phenomena, she combines a variety of unusual and elaborate postproduction techniques. Nadine Poulain’s films have been shown at numerous international film festivals.
Director, Editor: Nadine Poulain
Producer: Glen Sheppard & Nadine Poulain
Camera & Light: Brendan Flynt
Length: 90 min
Language: German (English subtitles)