Late abortion drama '24 Weeks' moves film festival audience

Premiering at this year's Berlin Film Festival, the German drama has wowed audiences with its deft handling of a difficult subject

German drama 24 Weeks has become a highly discussed topic at this year's Berlin Film Festival for its considered take on an intensely difficult subject.

Directed by Anne Zohra Berrached, the film sets its stage in East Germany after the Reunification; as a comedian and her manager husband, Astrid (Julia Jentsch) and Markus (Bjarne Maedel), learn she is pregnant with a second child. However, the couple is informed the boy has a 98% chance of having Down syndrome; later, after six months of pregnancy, they further discover he has congenital heart issues. Issues that require multiple surgeries the child may not survive, meaning the possibility of late-term abortion becomes a point of intense discussion.

How does one navigate this sort of impossible decision? This is the question 24 Weeks dares to ask; though it leaves out the common theological questions in favour of exploring the impact of Germany's own history on modern attitudes, in which 300,000 disabled individuals fell victim to the Holocaust. Astrid's own position as a successful performer also places her under the public eye, increasing the moral pressure on the couple to come to the right decision in this case.

Berrached was keen, however, to portray strict medical accuracy within her film; not just to explore its emotional implications. The film features the first HD quality shots from within a womb ever shown in a feature film, and the doctors in the film are played by real medical professionals.

Producers have stated (via Germany's The Local), more than 90% of parents terminate pregnancies in which the foetus is severely disabled. Yet, it's a subject which has remained very much taboo; which 24 Weeks hopes, in its own way, to address.

Its positive reception has already put one of its actors, Jentsch, in a prime position to receive one of the festival's acting honours. The Berlin Film Festival prizes will be announced 20 February, with Meryl Streep acting as head judge.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in