“When a Katz turns around on Insta, she has more spectators than we do at the game.” Unfortunately, what the Dragons striker dryly stated before the friendly game is true, women’s ice hockey is not yet a public sport in Austria. But no matter now, the whistle is about to start, no time for complaints, team captain Mira (Alina Schaller) warns her team: “Keep an eye on the disc, no body checks, let’s go!”
It has to be in accordance with the rules, Mira pays meticulous attention to it. If you are late, you have to pay a fine, everything has to work properly. She is not a revolutionary, this Mira in the center of “Breaking the Ice”, the directorial debut of the Viennese director Stern. But Mira is just as strict with herself. She satisfies her need for closeness in impersonal bedtime stories before she dutifully drives home late at night to her family’s winery in Lower Austria.
There, too, she makes sure that everything continues after grandma’s death: she takes care of the farm with her mother (Pia Hierzegger), she helps out when the demented grandpa (touchingly played by “Trautmann” star Wolfgang Böck) gets lost, collects meets him late at night on the country road, helps him in the vineyard, patiently answers the same questions for the twentieth time. Actually, Mira’s brother Paul should have taken over the farm, but he couldn’t stand it any longer. Paul hasn’t come home for months, doesn’t pick up his phone.
Development history on runners
She never allows herself to think about what Mira actually wants with her life, her body, with what she might still become or learn. Perhaps she would be much happier in a different kind of existence? “Breaking the Ice” is the development story of a young person, which takes place on skates for long stretches, because it is ice hockey where Mira’s development begins.
It was clear from the start that her main character should be a professional athlete, says director Stern in the ORF.at interview, because “she is someone who cannot express her own needs well”, so sport was an indispensable outlet. “I liked the physical presence of professional athletes. And I was looking for a team sport because she doesn’t want to be lonely but is looking for herself within society.”
Under the armor of ice, the soft heart
Not only was ice hockey appealing because of its dynamics, but “it has a lot of metaphors, the armor of the gear that can break open, the ice that’s hard and that can melt, all of that suited my main character perfectly for me,” Stern says . Mira discovers that her freedom on the ice is only real to a certain extent when a new player joins the team: Theresa (Judith Altenberger) is also ambitious, but a free spirit and thus the exact opposite of Mira’s anxious conformity.
For Mira, Theresa’s naturalness is dangerous and irresistible, and she falls head over heels in love without meaning to. Then Paul (Tobias Resch) reappears, the prodigal brother who dares to try himself out regardless of expectations, adopting different names, costumes and identities. He takes Mira and Theresa to Vienna’s nightlife, to lots of clear schnapps and good songs.
Thaw at disco dancing
And suddenly Mira realizes: Maybe she doesn’t like being the well-behaved daughter, but a completely different person, a young seducer, a tightrope walker, a superstar? These exit scenes are intimate moments of real freedom, in which everything seems possible and in which Mira’s life begins – also thanks to the great soundtrack by sound engineer Benedikt Palier (most of the lyrics are by the director).
“Breaking the Ice”, funded as part of the ORF film/television deal, is a queer coming-of-age story in which Theresa actually only becomes the catalyst of Mira’s development, because the actual love story in the film happens to Mira yourself. It often takes a bit of selfishness to be able to be there for others afterwards.