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Stephan Jaekel's literary pick
Thanks to its recent first German translation, I discovered this little gem by British novelist J.L. Carr, first published in 1980, this past Christmas. Well, I actually received it as a present in my advent calendar by my husband, so lucky me. It has been a long time since a book was able to suck me into another world so quickly and so utterly – and so peacefully. Maybe it´s because these strange Corona times make you cherish the smaller and calmer wonders of this world more. Or maybe it´s because it’s a goddamn well-written novel by a writer quite under-estimated in Germany. The story is about Tom Birkin, a British World War I veteran employed to uncover a mural in a village church in rural Yorkshire that was thought to exist under coats of whitewash. He spends a summer full of warmth, harvest, slow pace and new encounters, and as the mural becomes alive again under his patient craftsmanship, so does his own life.
Jeroen van Ingen's music choice
There’s a handful of albums that I can listen to regularly without getting bored, like ‘Blue Lines’ by Massive Attack, ‘Rio’ by Duran Duran or ‘What’s going on’ by Marvin Gaye. ‘Who is Jill Scott?’ definitely belongs to those. Although not entirely revealing herself on the cover of the album yet, you will have quite a good idea after listening to the 18 tracks of this amazing debut. Released in July 2000 it became my soundtrack of that summer and has stayed with me ever since. '
Being a poet and spoken word artist, Jill Scott takes us through the different stages of her (love) life in a very strong and engaging way. Whether it concerns falling in love (‘It’s Love’), being in love (‘He Loves Me’/’A Long Walk’) dealing with her boyfriend’s ex (‘Gettin’ in the Way’), love making (‘Love Rain’) or the end of relationship (‘Slowly Surely’), all words and sounds are very poetic and rich. The ‘Vol.1’ was already hinting at sequels which are definitely worth checking. Unfortunately, the 20th anniversary tour had to be cancelled for obvious reasons, but fortunately we’ll always have the album
Jamie Wolpert's movie must-sees
In honour of International Women’s day, I wanted to recommend three films by female directors that have had a huge impact on me. Capernaum by Nadine Labaki is probably the only film of the last decade that has made me well up – I’m basically dead inside, but this film touched me on a deep level and shows the universal power of a great story by a great director. One of the last films I saw in a cinema before lockdown, the final frame of the film will stay with me forever. Filmed with non-actors, this tells a story of poverty in contemporary Beirut through the eyes of a 10 year old, but without being bleak or miserablist. Me And You And Everyone We Know by Miranda July is a quirky delight. It’s a film that came out while I was at film school and helped me identify the kind of storyteller I wanted to be. Sweet-natured but odd enough to avoid being sentimental, it’s a great ensemble piece about outsiders.
The Selfish Giant is a film I was lucky enough to work on during my time at the British Film Institute, and is a great example of the British tradition of minimalist, hyperreal filmmaking. Clio Barnard’s film looks at the impact of capitalism through the story of two boys grifting for scrap metal – and again, though it sounds bleak, it’s warm and hugely moving.
There are two films coming out in the next few months by female directors to watch out for. Nomadland by Chloe Zhao features Oscar-Winner Frances McDormand as a woman who loses everything and finds a new life on the road, and just won best film at the Golden Globes. Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell is a dark, witty black comedy about a woman with a secret past getting revenge on seemingly sweet but abusive men. And as a final bonus, The Forty Year Old Version by Radha Blank is out on Netflix, and a sweet, funny film about finding your voice.