An Octopus Destroyed the Moon

The title of Heidrun Holzfeind's film, An Octopus Destroyed the Moon, comes up in a conversation between two girls who express their disgust at the maggots they find while harvesting nuts. These girls are participants in an integrative course of study on agricultural industry at the August Sander School in Berlin: Back in 2004, Holzfeind already produced a photo series there. This current work continues her thematic exploration of profession, integration and educational institutions as it observes a diverse group of students over the course of one full year at the vocational school. The director captures the students' strengths, impairments, wishes, and insecurities in clear, calm images, especially focusing in on their interaction with one another and their teachers.

The school's garden is an oasis in midst of the city and serves as the spatial center of the film. The various sections typically open with shots of the garden as it transitions from one season to the next: Images show raised beds and wheel barrows, trees in snow and sunshine, before focusing in on the young people and their teachers, while remaining unobtrusive. The atmospheric “soundtrack,” constituted by birdsong and car noise, positions the school between the (nature) idyll and professional demands of the surrounding world outside. Calm shots present everyday school routines, from gardening to beekeeping, math lessons to student teacher counselling. Meanwhile, the filmmaker continually captures various conversations that take place during cigarette breaks, collaborative work sessions and classes with the teachers – about music and family, as well as different problems and conflicts. The teachers are almost always appreciative of the students, the learning situation is (almost suspiciously) idyllic: Only once does the situation threaten to slip out of control, before mindful attention is drawn to the presence of two youthful guests.

An Octopus Destroyed the Moon is a sensitive portrayal of a rather marginalized group of young people caught between school and work, childhood and adulthood. The title wonderfully sums up the mixture of wishes, desires and limitations with which they have to contend. (Marie-Noëlle Yazdanpanah)

Translation: Eve Heller

Orig. Title
Ein Oktopus hat den Mond zerstört
Austria, Germany
90 min
Orig. Language
Heidrun Holzfeind
Heidrun Holzfeind
Heidrun Holzfeind
Supported by
Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlicher Dienst und Sport / Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport, Land Kärnten, Land Tirol, Künstlerinnenförderung des Berliner Senats
Anna Kania, Blenda Bytyqi, Chantalle Oestreich, Cosma Roszkiewicz, Jessica Michutta, Mario Faber, Mohammed El-Dghaili, Muhammed Ali Kahveci, Salome Agyemang, Soner Horoz, Tom Behrens, Travis Loichen, Vincent Titz, Anja Michalik, Antje Nagel, Berit Kastner, Jan Westerholz, Kerstin Richter, Micha Ziegler, Sylvia Weber, Urte Gladigau, Ute Kegel
Editing & dramaturgy consulting
Bettina Blickwede
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format