TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Heimat is a Space in Time’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Movies, Theatrical, TIFF 2019 by - September 05, 2019
TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Heimat is a Space in Time’

German history in the 20th century was tumultuous to the say the least and filmmaker Thomas Heise’s family experienced it all. For this epically personal documentary project, the veteran documentarian, who was born in East Berlin and saw his first three films banned by a communist government, unearths a treasure trove of photos, documents, journals and letters from his relatives and ancestors to present the intimate history of an extended family during a century full of conflict.

Split into a series of chapters, Heimat is a Space in Time chronologically charts the relationships and family dynamics of the Heise family tree through the director’s cool, disembodied narration of fragmented everyday passages from journal entries and letters. This is set over a continuing collage of sobering archival imagery, which prompt fluctuating emotions. In one chilling extended sequence, Heise reads out worried correspondence between family members in the lead up to the Holocaust while an endless list of names scheduled for deportation to the camps scrolls slowly on the screen. Elsewhere in a different period, expressions of love and lust are bandied about.

With a runtime of 218 minutes, Heise lets things flow slowly and deliberately. He also juxtaposes his narration with luminous black-and-white footage of the landscapes of today’s Germany, creating striking parallels between the environments we’re seeing and the environments we’re imagining.

I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a challenging and often difficult film to sit through, but when has modern history not been?

This post was written by
After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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