WIELAND SPECK IN CONVERSATION WITH MAIKE MIA HÖHNE: ABOUT HIS WORK AT BERLINALE AND AS A FILMMAKER

Wieland Speck. Former Director of Panorama for more than 25 years. Besides being very smart, progressive, queer programmer, he has been working as a filmmaker since the early 80ies. His films stand out. The very own language in form and style, content and vision go far beyond the so called normal. The way he created films, the way he programmed films: with a very good feeling for the up & coming, the avantgarde that always changed our perception of the world.

A few questions by Maike Mia Höhne:

Wieland Speck Portrait
Wieland Speck

MMH: What was the starting point for your movie DAS GERÄUSCH RASCHER ERLÖSUNG and how did you proceed in making it – if you still remember. Did you have a budget, did you write a script? How did you work with the actors while also being the DOP of the film?

WS: I shared for a couple of consecutive years my bed with my dictaphone to catch my dreams. that’s how the script was achieved. You can train yourself to actually wake up und hit that button. old technique, but it worked. For this film, the one before (my first 16mm) and some scenes in those that followed.

The budget was money from several jobs per day, call center, cocktail bar, stage-hand. the 16mm bolex handwind was given to me by one of the producers. The producers except for me gave material, time, skills, but no money.

Since I did the camera I could describe very precisely to the actors what I need to see them doing. I saw that as a plus and the actors felt safe.

Das Geräusch der raschen Erlösung
‚Das Geräusch der raschen Erlösung‘ by Wieland Speck

MMH: Why did you submit to Berlinale and how did you get to know, you were selected in times of no internet?

WS: My first film was not submitted – I was just lucky. The projectionist of the selection committee was our old projectionist of the cinema I ran in the late 70ies. When I came back in early 1981 to berlin from san francisco where I had produced it he just showed it to them, unasked. It was eleven at night when I received a call and a woman asked me „who is making films like that!?“. It was Ula Stoeckl, Germany’s no1 feminist filmmaker who was at the committee. The festival showed the film even though it was too late to get into the catalogue. Two years later they were interested in my second film… from then on I became a festival worker myself and could not offer films to the Berlinale anymore, I opened in the festivals of Hof or Saarbrücken.

MMH: Your films are very special storytelling wise – not following too many rules. What interested you most in making your own films?

WS: Well, when I made my first long film my actors got words to speak. That changed a lot. Originally and deep inside me, my figures don’t speak. They are, like in dreams, not much talking there usually. But I think music. Editing and music are accompanying me when framing. The short film of course has this advantage the poem has over the novel: you can make the receptionist fly high and everything is possible, the rationale is on pause. Or nothing happens at all. It’s an invitation, not an overwhelming.

MMH: How did it feel when you understood that making Panorama would also mean to leave filmmaking – at least for a longer while – behind you? Or the other way round: why did you decide to stay at the festival instead of investing more into your own films?

WS: Everbody said you can’t do both, I said I can. This sort of worked for 20 years. Then I had to make the decision. I never received the true support of a producer. The festival work was successful. In the meantime I watched 1000 films to find one program of 50, year after year. And I found films that spoke for me. Through me. Of me if you will, enough to make me feel it is good as it is. For now.

MMH: Did you ever feel jealous about the others, who kept on making films?

WS: Yes, sometimes, when a film was especially close to my soul perhaps – or used an idea I had written in one of my scripts in my bottom drawer and now I saw it realized by another. Fortunately I’m not very jealous, actually rather try to avoid jealous people – not a good energy for me. I can be happy for others.

MMH: Instead of this single persona career you decided for a – I would say – very feminine position: multiplication the multiple voice of (not only, but often) queer cinema. What were moments you remember most of all the years and why.

WS: Funny that you would pose the question that way: I do see myself as quite undiveded when it comes to male or female. I despise gender roles but definitely want to have all qualities possible, for myself and for others. Emancipation for me is the dissolve of gender roles. Only HOW one person behaves speaks to me. The less gender role I feel the better. Diversity, in that sense, does not mean every color, all seven genders (hey, some native folks of north america are so much smarter than our binary trap), a person of this speciality or that – it means every individual has all of these possibilities and we learn to take each other as each person decides to appear. I’m afraid the enhanced talk of diversity these days shows that it is waning. that we have to oppose. Lustfully.

Wieland
Wieland Speck

AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAËL SOYEZ ABOUT ‚PRENDRE FEU‘

Let us introduce you to the French director Michaël Soyez, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in the south of France in 1987, after studying at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he turned his attention to photography, which he continues to pursue to this day. In 2016, he made his directorial debut with the documentary essay film KnockdownPrendre feu is his first fiction film.

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Michaël Soyez

Male violence superimposes the innocence and growth. It is difficult to differentiate reality from dream, when everything is reality for those who protect the other. ‘May beetle fly/Your father is at war/Your mother is in Pomerania/Pomerania has burned down/May beetle fly.’ This German nursery rhyme sets the tone for the film and according to historian Hans Medick, can be traced back to the global Seven Years’ War (1756–1763). A hand pushes a mossy branch to the sky. A fire burns. A long shot reveals deep black smoke rising behind the boy.
In large tableaux alternating with dense, observant close-ups, photographer and filmmaker Michaël Soyez creates a scenario in which two brothers try to protect their friend from violence and anger. They live in a forest somewhere: a house, a young girl at the piano, an old woman. Only in excerpts do we come to understand this ensemble. More than the people, it is the colours and sounds that tell the story. The rich green, the dark red, the blonde hair of the boys who move in a labyrinth of emotions.

Still 1 Prendre feu © Michaël Soyez
Prendre feu © Michaël Soyez

What is your ambition in the film?

My principal desire in the movie Catching fire was to combine rage and sweetness. Trying  to draw a timeless portrait of a period of life where fragility is greater:  childhood. By assembling the pieces of this lost world the film try to hatch the persistent images of what could be in the same time a paradise and a hell, a place of beauty and world to leave.

What do you like about the short form?

Certainly all the freedom that the form allow, find the right rhytm and time without any pressure. And it’s more usual to do a short film with a short team, shorter is closer, do films with a real human link is essential for me.

What are your future plans?

 I’m in collaboration for a second time with Camille Genaud and Paraíso production on an other film: Lise’s laughter and tears. It will be a movie made with tenderness and melancholia constructed as a dialogue between childhood and adulthood that i’m very excited to do this summer, crossed fingers touch wood.

Actually i’m finishing to write a film where fire, death and ghosts are dancing together hand in hand, otherwise i will begin soon a doctoral thesis “theory and practice” in the field of cinéma about the representation of human finitude and impermanence of life.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH EVA KÖNNEMANN ABOUT ‚WELT AN BORD‘

Let us introduce you to the German director Eva Könnemann, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany in 1973, she studied film at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg from 1993 to 1999 and then received several scholarships including from the Cité des Arts in Paris, the graduate school of the Berlin University of the Arts and working scholarships from the Berlin Senate and the Kulturbehörde Hamburg. Her short and feature films have been exhibited in both cinema and art contexts. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Germany, at Mumok Vienna and VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine in Montreal. She lives with her family in Hamburg and Berlin.

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Eva Könnemann

Germany, as seen from the water. The landscape passes by in epic tranquillity as the audience immerses itself in the world of barge shipping. The top permitted speed for smaller watercraft is specified in the inland waterways regulations as a maximum of 15 km/h. A woman is along for the ride on Germany’s rivers and canals, with plenty of time to explore this little-known cosmos. In the end, the director dreams of a life on board and endeavours to find her place in the predominantly male domain.
Welt an Bord is a hybrid of documentary and narrative film. The basic conditions are set by the limited space on the barge and the work that must be done. Kathrin Resetarits embodies the alter ego of director Eva Könnemann, while she herself takes charge of the cinematography. Together they accepted the captain’s invitation to join in this other life. What kind of life is it anyway? Resetarits/Könnemann listen and work their way through fiction and reality. Views and realities interlock. Eva Könnemann’s work explores the boundaries of the contemporary narrative with a view to reality. The downward facing dog is real.

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‚Welt an Bord‘ by Eva Könnemann

What is your ambition in the film? 

I wanted to make a film that gives insight into the milieu of inland shipping. On the one hand, I really had the intention to do this in a serious documentary way and furthermore I wanted to tell a personal story and this story is my own – it’s about how I came in touch with inland shipping and how I got access to this very special world and of course remained kind of a misfit in it.

What do you like about the short form?

I like the fact that the limited length makes you feel less in the need or obligation to serve certain dramaturgical practices. I do not mean that you necessarily have to do it in a feature film, but naturally after an hour you might expect a narrative to get going and maybe some characters with a conflict and after two hours the initially established should have somehow turned or be solved. I just notice that I’ve realized those things in my short film, even though on a very low level. Well, what I actually mean is that in a short film you have the freedom to dedicate yourself to a topic rather than a story, or to a question, a mood or a formal experiment.

What are your future plans?

I have a finished script for a feature film that is set on a barge. In this story the female protagonist, who enters the male-dominated world of inland navigation, is no longer a filmmaker. The movie goes much farther into fiction. Actually, the script is the one, that the main character from „Welt ab Bord“ is investigating for.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH PRANTIK BASU ABOUT ‚RANG MAHAL‘

Let us introduce you to the Indian director Prantik Basu, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Kolkata, India in 1986, after taking a degree in English literature at the University of Calcutta, he studied film direction at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. His short film Sakhisona won a Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and screened at festivals worldwide. Further works, including Wind Castle and Makara, have also screened at festivals. His debut feature film, Dengue, which he developed with support from the Hubert Bals Fund, is currently in pre-production. His work focuses on gender politics and the relationship between nature and humans.

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Prantik Basu

This documentary portrays the Santal people, native to the north of India. It is one of the largest ethnic groups whose origins go back to India’s indigenous population. While written language is a relatively recent development for the Santal, their myths have been passed down orally over thousands of years. Therefore, each story has a different form, a different rhythm, a different colour – like the mountains and hills of the surrounding region. The men work on the mountain and later in the village, which is in the midst of preparations for the annual ritual. It takes years for a tree to grow, bear fruit and provide shade. A view of Creation and its narrative: Like the myth that stretches from Genesis to the building of the first house, the images unfold with tranquil composure and affectionate reverence.

Still 1Rang Mahal © Prantik Basu
Rang Mahal © Prantik Basu

What is your ambition in the film?

In this film, I attempted to take a micro look at the unique correlation of nature and culture at an Indian tribal village and portray a parable-like tale of an existing ecological art at the threshold of extinction. If we look beyond the urban rationale, we will find that myths are very deeply entwined in the everyday lives of the indigenous people. For them, a tree is not just a tree; a pond not a mere hole on the ground to hold water. They are often personified and associated with more familial values. I tried to trace the mythical in the mundane.

What do you like about the short form?

 For me, cinema is not about understanding, or decoding a formula that with derive the same inference every time one watches it. It has more to do with feelings and evocations, things that words often fail to express. It goes beyond storytelling. The short format allows more freedom to explore this aspect.

What are your future plans?

 I am currently in the final stages of post production with a documentary feature that I have been working on for quite some time now. Besides, I am developing my first fiction feature -‘Dengue’ with the support of the Hubert Bals Fund for script and project development.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS FILIPPONE ABOUT ‚HOW TO BREATHE IN KERN COUNTY‘

Let us introduce you to the American director Chris Filippone, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Philadelphia, USA in 1987, he studied film and media arts as well as political science at Temple University and documentary film and video at Stanford. His films explore the intersection of labour, marginalised voices and contested spaces.

Director Headshot 1
Chris Filippone

Sudamos – en luz – sombra – todo el día. We sweat – in the light – in the shade – all day long. California: Light and shadow. Living conditions in Kern County are determined by agriculture and oil production. Oil distillation towers stand in long rows spanning kilometres; a view of the workers’ conditions and their working day. And suddenly it comes, the night! Una canción de un mundo sin trabajo. Por un momento: respiramos. A song from a world without work. And for a moment: we can breathe. And then it’s back all over again, the next day. A triad, a film like a haiku.

(1) Workers in Grape Field
How to Breathe in Kern County by Chris Filippone

What is your ambition in the film?

I feel in some ways that it is my duty to offer an experience in my filmmaking over more traditional methods of story. With How to Breathe in Kern County, I’m trying to capture some semblance of subjectivity for a group of workers and street racers in Bakersfield, California. I’m also working to build a portrait of catharsis in the space in which they live, looking at the cycle of life there. My ambition is to offer this experience for the viewer, so that they may, even for a glimpse, enter into some semblance of the experience of those on-screen.

What do you like about the short form?

I feel that the short form can serve as a kind of gesture or breath in terms of the affect it can have. One does not need to really use more conventional methods to sustain a longer story, so short films can really be more authentically what they are than say a feature. This is both exciting and limiting though, as shorts can be highly experimental, yet they also don’t document change over longer periods of time. But like I mentioned, short films can be really innovative and open up a new language for viewers to understand, sense, and feel the subject matter on-screen.

What are your future plans?

Right now, I am working on a short film directed by my Associate Producer Erin Kökdil about Central American mothers who each year drive a bus through Mexico searching for their missing children who migrated north towards the U.S. We will edit that film after Berlin and then we both hope to start developing our first features through the summer. It’s an exciting time and are sure to feel rejuvenated after attending Berlin!

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH LOUIS FRIED ABOUT ‚FLEXIBLE BODIES‘

Let us introduce you to the German director Louis Fried, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Munich, Germany, he currently lives and works in Hamburg. From 2004 to 2010 he studied visual communications and film at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. He is co-founder of Veto Film, a platform for experimental film and video art.

Flexible Bodies_Louis Fried_Michael Steinhauser
Louis Fried by Michael Steinhauser

“Like a spaceship that has lost its way, the skyscraper protrudes from its surroundings. An imposing, elegantly curved, widely visible building that is architecturally inspired by UNO City in Vienna. Mixing architectural shots and surreal settings, the film Flexible Bodies enters the world of this skyscraper. The incongruousness of the work and of the building, which, even in today’s working world, is no longer contemporary, coalesce to create a weirdly charged atmosphere that is sometimes reminiscent of a science fiction film. The main focus of Flexible Bodies is on the views – both the exterior of the building as well the surrounding city as viewed from the interior. The building becomes a protagonist who, by virtue of its appearance, offers ample space for projections. (…) The inherent desire for ascent, the credo pertaining to the American dream of ‘You can do it’, and the consequentially related trend towards self-optimization right up to the predestined disappointment of countless dreams are the undertones that delineate the film,” comments director Louis Fried.

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‚Flexible Bodies‘ by Louis Fried

What is your ambition in the film?

It was an unfolding process. First I really wanted to shoot a film in the high-rise building I live next door to, after I heard it would be torn down soon. I had something like a strict architecture film in mind. Then my co-author Maya Connors and I became more and more curious about what kind of work is done in such a place? How is it to go there on a daily basis to earn your money? What are the dreams, ambitions and also the disappointments that occur here? Only few will make it to the higher ranks, but the old „Just work hard enough and you can do it!“ cliché seems still somehow very alive. For me it’s almost a quasi-religious salvation promise and I felt that a fictional film could transport that better.

So the ambition in the end was maybe to catch all the things that echoed through the hallways – also a certain UN-World Peace aura, which is built into the architecture (model for the building was the UNO City in Vienna, Austria) – and out of this make a more surreal sort of film.

What do you like about the short form?

The short form gives you often more freedom for experimentation and spontaneity, but in the end should every film be seen as an autonomous piece of art, no matter of its length.

What are your future plans?

Do more films, short and longer ones. At the moment I’m trying to raise funds for an essay film project about the neighborhood where my grandfather used to live. It was completely destroyed during World War II and is today quite an interesting area with a very jumbled architecture and a big diversity of people living and working there.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH CLARISSA THIEME ABOUT ‚CAN’T YOU SEE THEM?-REPEAT.‘

Let us introduce you to the German director Clarissa Thieme, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

An artist and filmmaker born in Oldenburg, Germany in 1976, she studied media art at the Berlin University of the Arts and then took a master’s in cultural studies and aesthetic practice at the University of Hildesheim. Her work in film and photography, as well as in performance and text, combines documentary and fictional forms and focuses in diverse contexts on processes of memory, the politics of identity and strategies of translation.

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Clarissa Thieme

Sarajevo during the siege in 1992: A group of armed men walks along the banks of the river Miljacka. One man is led away, and the group crosses the river. The neighbouring Grbavica district is about to be taken by the Serbs. The footage was shot by a man from an apartment in an adjacent skyscraper without knowing who the armed men were. Are they Serbs, Bosniaks? His camera wobbles, searches, pursues and retreats. The artist Clarissa Thieme finds the man who shot the film and has him once again recount how it happened. Using a motion tracking program, she performs a metadata analysis of the original clip and calculates the camera’s position and movement. She feeds this data into a motion control system that projects light onto a screen. Light that moves, changes direction, trembles. From the interplay between narration, documentary material and light projected onto a screen, a resonance corpus is created: a body full of fear and anxiety, a body injured in war. A body that now can be experienced. Memory becomes tangible and visible. The trauma ascends from the skyscraper onto the screen and reaches the audience.

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Can’t you see them? – Repeat. by Clarissa Thieme

What is your ambition in the film?

That you connect in a non intellectual, emotional way with an experience that I hope is not yours. My film circles around the anxiety, restlessness and helplessness of someone finding himself in a situation of war. Nedim Alikadic shot a video clip in Sarajevo, May 2, 1992 during the Bosnian war. His hectic camera tries to capture men in a distance not knowing if they are allies or a threat or what the situation he witnesses is about. His video is universal. There are too many. Most likely someone right now is shooting another one. I tried translating this traumatic moment already knowing I would fail. Using motion tracking I transferred the camera movement from Sarajevo 1992 to a light projecting motion control system looping the exact camera movement, trembling, stuttering – embodying a trauma that keeps on running whether we are staying with it or turning away. I would like you to stay.

What do you like about the short form?

I believe each film has its specific form. And as an artist or a filmmaker it’s your job to find that specific form. I have a playful fascination for genre but certain time slots an industry agreed on make no sense to me artistically. Saying that I am naturally in love with all forms beyond the norm of feature films. The long long movies that expand your filmic experience and of course the shorts too where you still can find a lot of courage to experiment. Shorts can be a carte blanche well used and I am always happy to watch that. But in the best of all cases it is like poetry, each one a precise language on its own speaking to you directly.

What are your future plans?

I am developing a feature film, STIMMEN (VOICES) about an idyllic resort at the sea hunted by the voices of its past when it was a refugee shelter (produced by Caroline Kirberg with pong film).
I just came back from Chemnitz for my project WEITER WAR NICHTS IST NICHTS (engl!) in collaboration with performing artist Tanja Krone. Tanja and me are one generation her coming from East Germany and me from West. The project resulting into different artistic formats raises our question what actually happened around 1989 with the fall of the wall until nowadays and how we tell each other our past(s) and present(s).
Last but not least there will be two new projects bringing me back to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the documentary WHAT REMAINS / REVISTED and a new project in collaboration with the Library Hamdija Kresevljakovic Video Arhiv where I already developed my current film CAN‘T YOU SEE THEM? – REPEAT.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAL PIETRZYK ABOUT ‚ALL ON A MARDI GRAS DAY‘

Let us introduce you to the American director Michal Pietrzyk, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Poland, following his father’s imprisonment as a member of Solidarność, he and his family emigrated to the USA when he was two. He began his career as an editor of unscripted TV, moving up to the position of field and then executive producer. He has produced over 130 hours of programmes for National Geographic, Discovery and Travel Channel, often in remote, dangerous locations. His most memorable projects include spending Christmas interviewing a cannibal in a maximum security prison in Russia. All on a Mardi Gras Day is his first independently produced documentary and his directing debut.

Michal
Michal Pietrzyk

Demond Melancon is a Black artist who lives in New Orleans. Due to the radical gentrification that took place after the catastrophic flood, subsequent reconstruction and restructuring of the city, the artist was forced to leave his neighbourhood. He now lives in one of the poorer districts, far from the city centre. Melancon’s artistic focus is on beadwork, using it to depict African and American history. These allow for a new reading of events and a different view of people, quite literally linking the past with the symbolic world, colours and surfaces of the present day. Michal Pietrzyk accompanies the artist in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day, the French version of Carnival Tuesday, which has been celebrated in New Orleans for centuries. Parades snake through the city, led by Big Chiefs. Melancon is the Big Chief of the Young Seminole Hunters, a ‘tribe’ hailing from the Ninth Ward district. His job not only entails wearing the loveliest and finest of costumes, but also keeping the group together and leading them throughout the year. Melancon shines in his role and through his art!

ALL ON A MARDI GRAS DAY
All on a Mardi Gras Day by Michal Pietrzyk

What is your ambition in the film?

To discover why Big Chief Demond is so obsessed with the Mardi Gras Indian culture, and what is the collateral damage to his personal life.  I also wanted to show the beauty and poetry of his art and personal story, but never extract it from the physical location where it takes place: the neighborhoods of New Orleans, with all their grit and patina.

What do you like about the short form?

You can be more experimental and playful with the format than in a feature, because the viewer is more forgiving; they will go on a strange journey with you for 20 minutes, but might run out of patience if you drag it on for 45.  Also, some stories are meant to be told in a shorter format.

What are your future plans?

My wife and I recently had a daughter, so we’ve juggled early parenthood and completing this film; it’s been a big year.  I’ll take this opportunity to shamelessly advertise myself and say: I’m looking for a job!  I need to pay off all the credit card debt I incurred to make this film, which was a self-funded passion project.  I’m also working on a feature film script and have a couple short docs I’m developing.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH PHAM NGOC LAN ABOUT ‚MOT KHU DAT TOT‘

Let us introduce you to the Vietnamese director Pham Ngoc Lan, who participated in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1986, he studied urban planning at Hanoi Architectural University. His photographic and video work focuses on the influence of cityscapes on human relationships. His debut short film Chuyen moi nha (The Story of Ones) screened at numerous film festivals and in art museums, including Visions du Réel in Switzerland and at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan. In 2015, he participated in the Short Film Station at Berlinale Talents. In 2016 Pham Ngoc Lan presented his film Another City at Berlinale Shorts. Besides working on further short films, he is currently developing his feature film debut, Cu Li Never Cries.

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Pham Ngoc Lan

An old cemetery in the middle of a dune landscape: mother and son wander between graves in search of the resting place of the deceased father. Looking down from the opposing dune, a man watches them through binoculars. The dunes are now part of a golf course overlooking the city. The cemetery was sold, the old graves were excavated. The movements of the big fish in the pond are reminiscent of the eels in Volker Schlöndorff’s The Tin Drum. The man plays golf, and his young girlfriend thinks about plastic surgery. A re-zoning of towns and places in the course of society’s commercialisation. In elegant, carefully framed shots, Pham Ngoc Lan links the future and the present on equal terms. This narrative approach is enlightened by a different cultural understanding of life and death in the act of ‘being’. We do not remember, we are in our imagination.

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© Mot Khu Dat Tot by Pham Ngoc Lan

What is your ambition in the film?

To me, Mot Khu Dat Tot takes on a journey of grasping the fleeting manner of a place that is claimed and transformed by humans, this time, a cluttered yet mesmerizing cemetery that (seems to be) turned into a vast golf court. The film introduces two pair of characters of two different narrative threads, one of a mother and her son looking for the dad’s lost grave and the other of a rich man and his young girlfriend entertaining their spare time. From my observation, golf is always an extravagant sport in underdeveloped countries. It is catered towards very few amount of people but captivates a country’s most precious sceneries indeed both horizontally and vertically which is most appalling when compared to the size of land that is shared by the rest of its citizens. This comparison will be layered with the cemetery’s crowdedness shockingly replaced by the bareness of the golf court. It also expands my interest to sensitively look at levels of humans’ artifact and its legacy on nature. In this film, I also want to work with animals (catfishes and cows) not only to challenge my directing ability but also to pratice for the next feature project.

What do you like about the short form?

I think shortfilm remains one of the most flexible forms of cinema. It prevents the filmmakers from being withheld from commercial suppressions while a feature would not which makes room for them to experiment with alternative forms of moving image.

What are your future plans?

I have currently finished writing my feature screenplay, which I’m still in the process of looking for financing. In the mean time, I will continue making shorts. I’ve learnt to foresee who would be my potential collaborators for the upcoming projects, and most importantly my main concerns. This is for sure a good thing.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH MANUEL ABRAMOVICH ABOUT ‚BLUE BOY‘

The Argentine director Manuel Abramovich won the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) for ‚Blue Boy‘.

The filmmaker and cinematographer was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1987. He studied camera at the Escuela Nacional de Experimentación y Realización Cinematográfica in Buenos Aires and is an alumnus of the 2012 Berlinale Talents. His short film La Reina (The Queen) screened at over 150 festivals worldwide winning 50 awards and his debut feature film, Solar, premiered at the Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente in Buenos Aires; in 2017, Soldado (Soldier) screened in Generation at the Berlinale. He is a fellow of the current DAAD artist-in-residence programme in Berlin.

ManuelAbramovich
Manuel Abramovich

Young men from all over the world have been meeting at the Blue Boy Bar in Berlin for forty years. According to their website, this is where the city’s lonely hearts, business people and tourists go. One after another, several young men take a seat at the bar, look into the camera and listen to themselves. A contract has been settled, the terms are read aloud. It allows the filmmaker to use the interviews as he sees fit. The men are paid for it. The men tell the filmmaker about their job, they are sex workers. As we observe them, a multitude of questions arise. Their eyes are like a mirror of our society.

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© ‚Blue Boy‘ by Manuel Abramovich

What is your ambition in the film?

I wanted to make a series of portraits of sex workers applying the same rules of the sex trade. To place emphasis on the performativity of such dynamics and to create an experiment in which the roles of everyone involved (protagonists, audience, myself) were interchangeable. What would it be like for these young men to take distance from the character they play? How would they react to their own stories?

What do you like about the short form?

Short films are like games. I just like to invent the rules and, for a few minutes, invite the audience to play along.

What are your future plans?

I just started the Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD fellowship, where I’m elaborating Blue Boy’s second phase, probably a feature. I’m also working on two new projects in Mexico. The first is related to pornography, I’m interested in people who turn their own sexuality into a show. The other is a collaboration with the gay cowboy community to create something they’ve always wanted to watch: a telenovela about their own love stories.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH FLORIAN FISCHER AND JOHANNES KRELL ABOUT ‚UMBRA‘

The German filmmakers Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film for ‚Umbra‘. Congratulations!

Born in Tübingen, Germany in 1981, Florian Fischer studied communication design at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and then attended the Arno Fischer masterclass at the Ostkreuzschule for Photography in Berlin. Between 2011 and 2016 he was a member of the artistic staff at the Hochschule Harz. In 2017 he completed a masters in pictorial science at the Danube University Krems. He participated in Berlinale Talents in 2018.

Portrait-FlorianFischer
Florian Fischer

Born in Halle (Saale) in the former GDR in 1982, Johannes Krell studied audiovisual media and camera at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. Since 2008, he has worked as a freelance cinematographer, editor and sound designer. In 2018, he completed his postgraduate studies in media arts at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne.

Portrait-JohannesKrell
Johannes Krell

Umbra: dark core of a sunspot, central shadow during a solar or lunar eclipse. ‘Umbrais dedicated to the ordinary and rare phenomena that occur in nature. These phenomena evoke familiar images such as shadows or reflections on the surface of water’, explain Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell. Formally and aesthetically complete, beautiful and consistent, Umbra has an irresistible arc of tension, a celebrated, not always definable and therefore all the more fascinating pull. The film can be read as an apocalyptic science fiction horror abstraction, as Kubrick Noir, so to speak. (Kubrick once mocked the fact that experimental film would never work on the big screen, and later shot the arguably most epic of all experimental films). Umbracan also be perceived as a meditation on space and its exploration. Or is it a fantasy about aliens travelling to our planet? The images we know of the moon’s surface are similarly abstract. To surrender oneself to Umbra and the emotions and associations it triggers means to begin a journey into space, and to grant space to the ephemeral.

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‚Umbra‘ by Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell

What is your ambition in the film?

In our film UMBRA we question film as an image-producing procedure in generell and link it to always existing optical phenomenons – like shadows or reflections on a water surface. The camera obscura can be considered as a complex visual apparatus that relates to the human eye. We wondered if there’s a natural equivalent to this phenomenon. Inspired by the writings of Aristoteles we discovered a natural event – a solar eclipse – that reveals the principals of the camera obscura without the use of any apparatus.

In addition to the conceptual aspects of UMBRA our formal ambition in all our films is to create an audiovisual experience that is very similar to wakeful or lucid dreams and thus to question the boundaries of our own perception.

What do you like about the short form?

In our work we don’t necessarily draw a line between short and feature-length film. The time range is not an index for quality or content, just a parameter of the film – any idea or concept has probably its appropriate time to develop. But often in short films there’s less people, money and institutions involved which leads to more autonomy and much more variant forms as the common genres. It’s exciting to see how old patterns dissolve and new forms evolve.

What are your future plans?

After our previous films STILL LIFE and KALTES TAL, UMBRA is the last part of our Trilogy that explore nature(s) as spaces for (self-)perception. Currently we are thinking about an appropriate conversion of the trilogy into a video installation for an art space.

24 films from 17 countries have competed for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

PRIZES OF THE INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM JURY 2019

Congratulations to the amazing winners of the Golden Bear for Best Short Film and the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) as well as the Audi Short Film Award!

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Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell are overwhelmed by winning the Golden Bear for Best Short Film yesterday Photo by Heinrich Völkel

Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film for ‚Umbra‘! 

Umbra: dark core of a sunspot, central shadow during a solar or lunar eclipse. ‘Umbrais dedicated to the ordinary and rare phenomena that occur in nature. These phenomena evoke familiar images such as shadows or reflections on the surface of water’, explain Florian Fischer and Johannes Krell. Formally and aesthetically complete, beautiful and consistent, Umbra has an irresistible arc of tension, a celebrated, not always definable and therefore all the more fascinating pull. The film can be read as an apocalyptic science fiction horror abstraction, as Kubrick Noir, so to speak. (Kubrick once mocked the fact that experimental film would never work on the big screen, and later shot the arguably most epic of all experimental films). Umbracan also be perceived as a meditation on space and its exploration. Or is it a fantasy about aliens travelling to our planet? The images we know of the moon’s surface are similarly abstract. To surrender oneself to Umbra and the emotions and associations it triggers means to begin a journey into space, and to grant space to the ephemeral.

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Manuel Abramovich receiving the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) for ‚Blue Boy‘

Manuel Abramovich won the Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) for ‚Blue Boy‘!

Young men from all over the world have been meeting at the Blue Boy Bar in Berlin for forty years. According to their website, this is where the city’s lonely hearts, business people and tourists go. One after another, several young men take a seat at the bar, look into the camera and listen to themselves. A contract has been settled, the terms are read aloud. It allows the filmmaker to use the interviews as he sees fit. The men are paid for it. The men tell the filmmaker about their job, they are sex workers. As we observe them, a multitude of questions arise. Their eyes are like a mirror of our society.

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The Audi Short Film Award for ‚Rise‘ by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca

Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca won the Audi Short Film Award for ‚Rise‘!

Young, gifted and black! In an act of self-empowerment, a group of young Black people, mainly first and second generation immigrants from the Caribbean, have occupied the public space of the Toronto underground to perform their agitprop concept of edutainment – poets, rappers, singers and musicians. This vital, experimental documentary perceives rhythm, text and dance as forms of creative work that collectively reflect and comment about their identities. Diverse voices come together in a cultural dialogue that includes both traditional and contemporary elements of Black music. The structure and script of the film is based on the edutainment concept created by hip hop artist KRS-One. Also involved are members of the group R.I.S.E. (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere), who organize a weekly poetry slam in suburban community institutions in Toronto.

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The Filmmakers of Berlinale Shorts 2019

Photos by Heinrich Völkel

AN INTERVIEW WITH RAINER KOHLBERGER ABOUT ‚IT HAS TO BE LIVED ONCE AND DREAMED TWICE‘

Let us introduce you to the Austrian director Rainer Kohlberger, who is participating in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Linz, Austria in 1982, he works as a freelance video artist and media designer in Berlin, developing algorithm-based images for installations, experimental films and live visualisations. His deliberately reductionist visual imagery moves between a playful discourse with concrete forms and noise aesthetics. His short film keep that dream burning screened in the 2017 Berlinale Shorts.

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© Rainer Kohlberger

‘In the sixth great mass mortality of the earth, humankind became extinct. Their technology had recently progressed so far as to deconstruct the algorithms of evolution and allow artificial life to develop on Earth. New life awakens, learns to see and tries to understand. It discovers the film history of humankind and through reflection thereof, begins to gain an awareness of itself and to believe in their gods. The artificial character goes to the cinema so to speak, where we collectively see images produced with machine learning and other image analysis algorithms used against the grain. The belief that we and our world cannot be solely reduced to matter, that there is in fact another form, is deeply inscribed in our own program and defines our thinking. Does nature calculate on the basis of the stuff that makes up our universe, or is the universe the result of calculations? Is the existence of numbers independent of one’s own consciousness, or are they fictional? Are mathematical objects and their concepts created in the same way in which we tell stories? It has to be lived once and dreamed twice,’ comments Rainer Kohlberger

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© ‚It has to be lived once and dreamed twice‘ by Rainer Kohlberger

What is your ambition in the film?

I’ve been interested in the blurriness of the border where mind is confronted to its surroundings since a long time. While my generated work so far deals a lot with the perceptual aspects of this inquiry, here I started from the simple question what artificial life is and what do we mean when we talk about ›Intelligence‹. That resulted in a far-reaching endeavour where I realised quickly that very basic questions about millennia old philosophical topoi like the body/mind problem and the relationship between technology and religion emerge. My ambition was to tell this 40,000 years of human history from an alien perspective in a poetic way.

What do you like about the short form?

I’m one of the film makers who usually work entirely on their own to create their microcosms. For me that also means creating films is close to the compositional process of music, therefore the length of a short film can kind of be related to the one of what would be a song or a track maybe. ›It has to be lived once and dreamed twice‹ is my longest film so far, that is not purely abstract as the ones before, but where for the first time in addition to the images and sounds I also included language. For that I collaborated with Annika Henderson for the voice and with Peter Kutin for the sound track.

What are your future plans?

I am constantly pushing out new bits and pieces in all the fields I’m involved in — new music, new video installation and a new film coming up!

24 films from 17 countries will be competing for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

AN INTERVIEW WITH SHEN JIE ABOUT ‚SPLASH‘

Let us introduce you to the Chinese director Shen Jie, who is participating in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Shanghai, China in 1989, he graduated from the Shanghai Institute of Technology in 2012. His short films have screened at film festivals around the world including in Venice, Sakhalin, Tampere, Annecy and Zagreb. He lives and works in Shanghai.

© Shen Jie

The camera falls into the water. A man without arms stands at the edge of the pool and fishes the diving goggles out of his trousers with his foot. Like an animal, he bites the hand of a woman standing next to him. A package is opened. A jump in the water, followed by a splash! It is the exploding of a bomb, marking the transition of life to death. With a precise montage of a few sound elements, animated images and framing, Shen Jie tells of borderlines and possibilities. Who holds whom and when? The linear narrative is suspended. Urgency and restlessness are inherent features of the film. The images are inspired by the work of British painter David Hockney whose famous work, ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)’ was auctioned in November 2018 – at a price that has never before been paid for the work of a living artist.
Shen Jie belongs to a young generation of independent animation filmmakers in China who are gaining international acclaim.

What is your ambition in the film?

I’d like to try a more abstract way to narrate a little story.

What do you like about the short form?

I think short form works well for some extreme expressions. Less running time actually gives me more room to experiment. I would, of course, like to try a longer form, if I have a suitable idea for it.

What are your future plans?

I’m making a new short film. And I recently started to write poems and some little stories. Currently no any more detailed future plan.

24 films from 17 countries will be competing for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH CHEMA GARCÍA IBARRA AND ION DE SOSA ABOUT ‚LEYENDA DORADA‘

Let us introduce you to the Spanish directors Chema García Ibarra and Ion de Sosa, who are participating in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

The writer and director Chema García Ibarra was born in Elche, Spain in 1980. He studied advertising and public relations at the Universidad de Alicante and, alongside music videos and commercials, also made short films. His ‘domestic science-fiction’ films have screened at festivals worldwide, including at the Berlinale, Sundance, San Sebastián, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs and Ann Arbor. He teaches ‘anti-filmmaking’ at the Escuela de Cinematografía y del Audiovisual de la Comunidad de Madrid.

Born in Donostia, Spain in 1981, Ion de Sosa studied at the Escuela de Cinematografía y del Audiovisual de la Comunidad de Madrid and is a cinematographer, producer and director, primarily of 16mm films. He currently lives in Barcelona but spent the last ten years in Berlin. His films have screened at festivals including Locarno, Toronto and Hong Kong. His feature film Sueñan los androides (Androids Dream) screened in the 2015 Forum. He would love to direct a Batman sequel.

© Chema García Ibarra and Ion de Sosa

The swimming pool has played an important role throughout film history – most often as a romping ground for the sophisticated and hedonistic Dolce Vita. But it can be so much more, even sinister, as in Sunset Boulevard. In Leyenda dorada a rather unglamorous swimming pool of diminished charm forms the focal point of the story. A lazy summer’s day in the Spanish village of Montánchez, and people of all ages enjoy themselves at the outdoor pool. It is an almost utopian depiction of community, under the lofty, watchful gaze of Our Lady of Consolation. While conflicts, aggression, rivalries and animosities have a siesta, the villagers take a well-deserved break. Formally, the film draws on the tradition of New Objectivity. But unlike Robert Siodmak’s Menschen am Sonntag (1930) and its lido sequence, this is a wee summer fairy tale.

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© Leyenda dorada by Chema García Ibarra and Ion de Sosa

What is your ambition in the film?

An ex-voto is a religious offering to a divinity, like a Saint or the Virgin, as a thanksgiving for a miraculous gift. For example, an unexpected cure to an illness or a fortuitous accident surviving. This art form is popular and sacred at the same time. This is so attractive for us.

We wanted to put in cinema this expression form that usually is made as a painting or sculpture.

 What do you like about the short form?

In short form, the film decides his length.

What are your future plans?

We want to focus in Chema’s first feature film, called “Sacred spirit”. Ion will be the D.O.P. and producer along with our partner Leire Apellaniz. If everything goes as we want, the shooting will be in the beginning of 2020.

24 films from 17 countries will be competing for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.