Winner of the GWFF Best First Feature award at Berlinale, Iraqi-Austrian director Kurdwin Ayub’s debut Sonne is an empathetic and energetic exploration into the cognitive tics of Gen Z. Produced by the masterful Austrian auteur Ulrich Seidl, the work has a grunge aesthetic which updates the austere realism of Seidl’s Austria.
Disavowing any obvious narrative line is perhaps the biggest strength of Ayub’s debut
Ayub immerses us into a nuanced portrait of coming-of-age diaspora experience. Yesmin an besties Nati and Bella make a parodic video, posing and twerking to REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’ in Yesmin’s bedroom and wearing the garb her mother wears to pray. What follows is a social, familial, and personal reflection on both the appropriation of identity and intimacy of alienation.
It prompts in Yesmin – the only hijab-wearer of the trio, albeit in a very modern and non deferential manner – a quiet crisis of consciousness. Disavowing any obvious narrative line is perhaps the biggest strength of Ayub’s debut. It treats all the perspectives it contains with open curiosity, and a generous compassion for human fickleness, adolescent experimentation and mistakes.
Eschewing clichés, Sonne is a multivalent work showing teens torn between a confusing reality and an ill-defined virtual existence. ★ ★ ★ ★
- Starts Dec 1 D: Kurdwin Ayub (Austria, 2022) with Law Wallner, Melina Benli, Maya Wopienka, Margarethe Tiesel