Film Quarterly

(...) a stunning documentary...
Brigitta B. Wagner

(...) Philip Scheffner, whose Halfmoon Files debuted in the festival’s Forum section in 2007, returned to that section with Revision, a stunning documentary that takes issue with the official history of a xenophobic incident in Northeastern Germany in 1992. Unearthing the case of Grigore Velcu and Eudache Calderar, two Romanian refugees killed mysteriously in a cornfield along the German–Polish border at a time of intensified post-Wall racism, ethnocentrism, and illegal border-crossing, Scheffner uses a wealth of nonfiction techniques to question the occurrence, its aftermath, and the changing contours of Europe. The families of the two men stare into the camera and argue with Scheffner about the best way to film their interviews. Subjects listen to their earlier audio recordings and add commentary or memories on camera. In other scenes, Scheffner stands with farmers and firefighters in the cornfield itself as they map and dispute the way that the bodies were found much as Claude Lanzmann’s subjects do in Shoah (1985). Lawyers, a doctor, and a police officer complicate the story of three hunters who supposedly mistook Velcu and Calderar for wild boars while a Romanian chronicler searches his notes on the case and retrieves old news sequences. Scheffner shares some of the concerns of theorist–filmmakers such as Harun Farocki as he and cinematographer Bernd Meiners approximate the exact light conditions in the field on June 29, 1992. Scheffner includes their conversation on the soundtrack as they attempt to calibrate the video camera and a pair of hunting binoculars. This textually diverse revision of an embarrassing international incident, one too hastily swept under the rug of the more immediate concerns of East–West integration, remains, however, a human story with the profound insights of EU retrospection; Velcu and Calderar’s families no longer have to cross borders illegally.(...)