Movie Short Review: ‘Day Release (Freigang)’

Greetings again from the darkness. The vast majority of parents strive to do right by their kids. Knowing the right thing to do is the challenge. Sometimes the answer is easy, and other times it’s soul-crushing. Director Martin Winter and writer Sebastian Schmidl have delivered a gut-wrenching 34 minute short film featuring a standout performance from Anna Suk.

Kathi (Ms. Suk) is on a ‘day release’ pass from jail, serving a sentence for a crime we never learn. Required to be back to the facility by 6:00pm, she immediately heads to the apartment where her mother is keeping Christopher, Kathi’s son. It’s Christopher’s 3rd birthday and Kathi is clearly a loving mother, tortured by having to be away from her child. She notices that her mother (Birgit Linauer) is sick in an ‘unstable’ manner that has Kathi fearing for her son’s safety and well-being. The clock is ticking, as she has only a few hours to come up with a solution.

Kathi tracks down the father of her child. Robert (Patrick Schmidl) is at his office, and we learn he is married. Robert is willing to offer her some money, but that’s where his willingness to take responsibility ends. Christopher is a kid, and thereby oblivious to the pressure and stress that his mother feels. When Kathi asks a “stranger” if Christopher can use the restroom at her house, we quickly figure out Sylvia (Daniela Zacheral) is not just helpful and pregnant, but also closely affiliated with the story.

The final act is quite something to watch as Ms. Suk has very few lines of dialogue, yet manages to express so much emotion that we are right there with her in that final shot. She has reverted to the only spot where she’s ever found true comfort. It’s easy to see how this short film was so well received at film festivals this year and last.

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