Sundance 2021: 'Human Factors'

Feb 5, 2021


Credit Sundance Film Festival

  Human Factors, written and directed by Ronny Trocker, screened as part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Here's Barb Bretz with her take.

The film, is very ‘European’ in style and setting. Language is German and French with English subtitles.

“I think there are multiple ways to experience the film,” explains the writer/director. “I would say it is a movie about communication or rather non-communication. It’s also about what we see, what we hear or what we don’t want to see, don’t want to hear. Finally, it’s about how we can experience things differently depending on from which point of view we are looking at them.”

Jan, who’s German and Nina, who’s French, are married and co-owners of an advertising agency. In the past, they agreed not to take on political campaigns. Jan negotiated a contract with a political client without consulting Nina causing tension between them and within the family.

While away from the city at their vacation home on the coast, a sinister incident occurs. Using a re-play technique similar to that in Groundhog Day, the incident is relived through the perspective of each family member, including the pet rat. With each rerun of the story we, as voyeurs, accumulate more perspective but alas, our family members do not.

The father’s statement to his son, “Be careful what you tell people. They might believe you,” is very prophetic, both in this story and in today’s political climate.

I found the story and the storytelling technique intriguing and the acting strong. Cinematography was rich and set wonderful tones throughout. Although it is slow-paced and challenging to follow due to the repeat action, I found it well-worth my time.

For KPCW, this is Barb Bretz.