For soccer related and entirely painful reasons I wish today to recommend a work that is German, demonstrating an amazing technical ability patently lacking in the dull collection of overpaid lumps representing my country. Made whilst at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, Derek Roczen’s Bärenbraut is even at this stage one of my films of the year. In a dense forest a young woman befriends a bear cub that, as the seasons advance, grows much bigger, developing an unnatural affection for her that is both suffocating and threatening. A third character is involved in the triangle, a woodcutter and hunter whose presence is both a threat to the animal and a romantic option for the girl. The 2D world Derek creates is drawn with an eye for design that is startling, a cross between wood printing and, given the obviously layered effect, a pop-up book with each and every cell carefully composed, characters and setting beautifully framed. The story and theme meanwhile has the quality of fable about it. There is a brooding intensity as seasons progress, from the lightness of summer to the dark winter where the bear overwhelms the tiny home of the girl. Meanwhile, the relationship of the girl with the hunter evolves, his developing timber home and the tree stumps signifying his intent, not to mention the hide stretched out in front of the home. Bärenbraut is not only a work of art, it is a powerful film with a dark and tragic complexity. I have uploaded a HQ version of the film to YouTube. A visit to Derek’s blog or website confirms my impression of a rich talent. The film is the second recommended to me by Ged Haney from his time as visiting lecturer at the university. A good man.