Otomo | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
comment

Frieder Schlaich based his 2000 German film on the 1989 confrontation between Stuttgart police and Frederic Otomo, a Cameroonian immigrant who slugged a ticket taker who'd tried to throw him off a tram. Though he's been in Germany for eight years, Otomo has never been permitted to work; carrying a bag of his native soil everywhere, he dreams of being a helicopter pilot and endures the crudest racism (one cop characterizes any humanity toward him as "animal-rights activism"). Schlaich fictionalizes the few hours Otomo spent on the run, having him meet a young girl and her sympathetic grandmother, and Isaach de Bankole gives a compelling performance as the persecuted outsider, speaking little but exuding a gentle grace. The film's imagery is almost always taut and geometrical, emphasizing intrusive diagonal lines and frequent shifts of perspective. The fragmented compositions isolate the characters, trapping them in walled-off worlds--which makes the brief kiss between Otomo and the grandmother all the more touching. 85 min. A 35-millimeter print will be shown. Gene Siskel Film Center, Friday, August 3, 6:30, and Saturday, August 4, 6:00.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →