“Entropy in on the rise.”
Jakob Zapf’s A Handful of Water is a story of sanctuary. Sanctuary is often used to define a place of safety, but its root comes from being a place of holiness. In this film, the place of safety has the kind of life changing affect where we may see the holy at work.
Konrad Hausnick (Jürgen Prochnow) is an irritable widower who stays at home and cares for his tropical fish. His is a life that has been put on hold since his wife’s death. Even when his daughter comes, he doesn’t really connect with her. He scoffs at the idea that she is creating a family by adopting her wife’s children. For Konrad, the changes going on in the world are just a sign of the disintegration of the universe.
Thurba Al-Shirbini, (Milena Pribak) is a child refugee from Yemen, who lives with her mother and two younger brothers. When the police arrive one night to deport the family, Thurba manages to escape. Since the family can’t be deported unless they are all together, this puts things on hold. She breaks in to Konrad’s basement to spend the night. Thus begins an interaction that will give Konrad a much different view of life and what is happening around him.
For the most part, the film a study of Konrad as he slowly moves from the stagnant life that he has been living to being able to see the love that still exists in the world. He has been ignoring the love his daughter shares with her family. He wants nothing to do with neighbors. He has created a self-contained fortress, which he might have seen as a sanctuary from his grief, but in reality, it blocked any chance at finding joy. That means this sanctuary is in no way holy. It is only when Thurba comes into his life and he begins to try to make her life better that he finds meaning (and perhaps a touch of holiness) again.
The film also seeks to speak to the struggle society has with immigration. Often in the film, we see shots of migratory birds traveling in the sky. For them, the borders of the world have no meaning. But for Thurba and her family, those borders and authorities are the things that prevent finding joy and sanctuary.
In time, Konrad will discover that he can embrace the idea of the world falling apart and even take part in undermining the foundations that he thought important. In so doing, he brings sanctuary (both safety and holiness) into his life.
A Handful of Water is available on IndiePix Unlimited.
Photos courtesy of IndiePix.