Documentary Review: ‘Garden Of Stars’ Is Enchanting, Interesting And Very Insightful

Review by Mark Merrell

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, are known primarily for their collection of tales of folklore, and penned classical stories. Born in the late 1700’s they collectively created, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hanzel and Gretel, among their many publications. They were laid to rest after their deaths in the mid-1800’s in Schoenberg Berlin, in the St Matthaus Kirchhoff Cemetery. That is where, Garden of Stars exists.

The movie opens with Bernd Bossmann, who narrates and stars. After moving to Berlin in 1984, Bernd, who’s primary wish it had been to have a garden, changed his name to Ichgola Androgyn. In 1989 when the wall separating East and West Berlin was taken down, Ichgola moved to the countryside, taking up residence collectively with friends on a houseboat, including his lover, Ovo.

They were looking at grave sites in the massive and enchanting St Matthaus Kirchhoff Cemetery at one point, and happened to pass by an interesting structure left to decay at the entrance. In 2005, Ovo passed away. Ichgola was again drawn to structure at entrance to the Cemetery at Ovo’s service, so he purchased it, turning it into, Cafe Finovo. He explains that the cafe is small, but, that because so, it creates diagonal conversations. No one is a stranger. Communication is the key.

Ichgolo has a magnetic and genuine personality. He has embraced his life at the cemetery. He and his cafe have brought a sense of life, communication, and understanding of death to those who visit there. The section of the cemetery that he tends is called, The Garden of Stars. This area is set aside for stillborn children. It’s filled with decorations and keepsakes. Ichgolo talks about the grieving process for adults and siblings, including children, and much more about life and its struggles. He offers his inspirations and insights to contemplate.

Co-Directed, and Co-Written by Pasquale Plastino (A Flat For Three, Me Them and Laura) and Stephane Riethauser (Boy On Film 9: Youth In Trouble), the movie held me spellbound with Ichgo’s insights and philosophy, in a such a way you feel a freedom and a sense of being uplifted. Ever-smiling and generous to nearly a fault, even while facing his own adversity, Ichgolo’s story is one to catch. He is certainly a person that I would like to visit with at his cafe, and eventually call him my friend. Notwithstanding, he’s already humanity’s friend.

Acclaimed LGBT title from Europe, Garden of Stars is welcomed to VOD June 13 and DVD September 5.

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