Monowi Nebraska

Monowi Nebraska

D 2014-2018, 80 min., DCP and BluRay – English

a film by Lilo Mangelsdorff
Music Boris Hauf
Sounddesign Harald Guhn, a.r.t. Studios
Colourgrading Thomas Maier, Magna Mana Production

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In the Midwestern United States, in the north of Nebraska, with its sparsely populated vast landscapes between prairies and grazing cattle, you can find Monowi, a place that seems to have fallen out of time. At first sight it seems a ghost town with dilapidated houses and gardens. The ruins are recaptured from nature.

There is the #1 on the town sign of Monowi. This indicates the only inhabitant: Elsie Eiler. At over 80 years old, she is still in good shape. Here she lives and runs her “Monowi-Tavern”. Being the “mayoress” and the sheriff of the town, she issued the liquor license to herself, and she manages a public library.

Her tavern is the meeting point of the rural population in the region. Here you get the news of what is happening in the area and how friends and acquaintances are doing. Big politics and Washington are far away. “Politics is something we have to live with,” Elsie says and she tries not to get upset about it.
Elsie Eiler is happy to live in this town.  She grew up here in Monowi; it is her home, and she feels comfortable with her guests. Some of them she has known since her youth. Her Monowi-Tavern is a kind of public living room for the regional farmers and craftsmen. With humor she serves them “The Coldest Beer in Town” and “The Best Hamburgers”.

MONOWI, NEBRASKA is a visual exploration, a cinematic-topographical approach to the ephemeral. And it is a film about a rural exodus and the sense of homeland. It is a German look at American conditions. Here, in this sparsely populated, extensive area, people have their own relationship to space and time and a close, often wordless cohesion with one another.

The film captures the mood of the place in the summer of 2014/15 and shows a rural microcosm of the inhabitants of this area in northern Nebraska. The film is shaped by its protagonist, Elsie Eiler, who lives in this place as the only inhabitant. She embodies the history of the place and is alone but never lonely in the company of her guests.