‘Afire’ Trailer: Christian Petzold lights up and ignites romance with Paula Beer

Christian Petzold sits somewhere between the lands of the late Éric Rohmer and vintage Noah Baumbach with his new romantic drama, ‘Afire’.

The German director of serious historical war films like “Transit” and “Phoenix”, which bent time both in terms of cinematic references and manipulations of stylistic anachronisms, becomes less serious with this film about four people on vacation, who they swap beds and surrounded by forest fires. Sideshow and Janus Films are releasing “Afire” this summer on July 14th—it’s a perfectly adorable summer thing despite its tragic underpinnings. Watch the trailer for “Afire” below.

Petzold conceived “Afire” during the pandemic – though he later shot on location in Germany – after feeling tired of the bad news and thus putting off another darker project for this deceptively lighter one. The film centers on a beach vacation, when longtime best friends Leon (Thomas Schubert), a pretentious fiction writer struggling to churn out his new book, and Felix (Langston Uibel) show up at the girl’s vacation home. Felix’s family to discover Nadja (Paula Beer), a mysterious woman, already there. Meanwhile, a relentless bushfire threatens their well-being, testing relationships and igniting romance. “Afire” won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize at the 2023 Berlin Film Festival, where Petzold has regularly premiered his work.

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With Petzold no longer working with his regular collaborator Nina Hoss — since last fall, the pair have been on a creative hiatus — Paula Beer is now Petzold’s partner. Previously she starred in “Transit” and her “Undine”, released in the pandemic in 2020, a lyrical twist on the myth of the mermaid, with both films also starring Franz Rogowski.

From IndieWire’s review of “Afire”: “This steaming tour through the life of the mind marks a captivating change of pace for the talented filmmaker, who swaps the capital-S story of ‘Phoenix’ and the romantic fantasy of ‘Undine’ for another understated – and sometimes surprisingly funny – character study.

Look for “Afire” in theaters July 14th. While Janus Films’ backing implies an eventual Criterion Channel exit, Petzold has always made his films expressly for theaters, telling IndieWire during the pandemic, “For me, watching big flat screens at home is like him at the coffee shop.” , very lonely while recreating home cinema on the big screen with a big sound system. It’s not. The cinema is a social place like a bar, a common place where people buy a ticket sitting next to you in the dark that you never seen before. We’re alone, but we’re not alone in our loneliness. This is a great place. This is my big screen.”