Director: Peter Sehr
Screenwriters: Marie Noelle, Peter Sehr

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


Peter Sehr’s new film is a beautiful surprise—a deft and moving work about the shifting relationships between a group of people from entirely different backgrounds who find themselves in Berlin. A shoplifting incident weaves the strands of this magical film together. An elderly Jewish tailor is apprehended by the police for stealing some buttons, attracting the attention of a bystander, a Zimbabwean stonemason restoring Berlin’s treasured buildings. In the ensuing incident, another passerby, the beautiful Miriam, a native Berliner, becomes embroiled.

Miriam lives happily with her lover Pierre, a young French medical researcher. The stonemason, John, is in Berlin trying to locate old film footage of a tightrope walker who crossed Niagara Falls in 1928, but his chance meeting with Miriam leads to an obsessive love. And the tailor he rescued from the police becomes his best friend. Sehr uses these situations to examine not only modern relationships, but also older and more sustaining kinds of friendship.

What makes this film more than just an insightful and engaging account of a triangular relationship is the manner in which Sehr stitches the foreground of love and passion against the background of the various quests of his characters. While Miriam plays the organ in a rock group, Pierre is engrossed in his research on the heart, and John is determinedly hunting down the film footage which may fill in some of the gaps in his personal history. Obsession is ambitious, but it more than successfully balances its competing stories and is an exceptionally
intelligent film.

Peter Sehr, Director
Born in Odenwald in 1951, Peter Sehr made his first short films while studying for his doctorate in biophysics at Oxford University from 1975 to 1980. In 1982 Peter moved to Munich and worked as assistant director to Claude Lelouch, among others. In 1989 he directed The Serbian Girl, nominated for the Best Debut Feature Award by the British Film Institute. Kaspar Hauser (Crimes against a Man’s Soul), shot in 1993, won numerous awards.

— Piers Handling, Toronto Film Festival

Screening Details

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