– Le réalisateur anglais nous parle de son interest pour les utopies et de son souhait de dépeindre le pouvoir que génère le fait de rester immobile
This article is available in German.
German director Christopher Roth presented his drama with tragicomic undertones Servus papa, see you in hell [+lire aussi :
interview : Christopher Roth
fiche film] At the beginning of the year at the Munich Film Festival. The film is inspired by real-life events in a commune active in Austria in the 1970s, funded by a performing artist and self-proclaimed guru Otto Muhl. After showing at this year’s Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, the film is now coming to German cinemas in Port-au-Prince. We spoke to the director about his adaptation of the story and the visual concept for the film.
Cineuropa: How did you come across this story?
Christopher Roth: The Otto Muehl commune was the basis for the film. I knew about it as a kid because my sister had a friend who lived there, so members of the commune used to visit us regularly. As a 6-year-old, I was fascinated by her bald head and dungarees appearance. I was irritated by their highly aggressive and insulting manner and the fact that they always stood naked in our garden. Nobody could explain to me at the time why they behaved like this. I’ve always been interested in utopias and that’s why I later went back to the commune. I met Jeanne Tremsal, who lived on the commune as a teenager and is the model for my main character. Jeanne is also a co-writer of the screenplay. Their stories were fascinating. She said that in the beginning it was like paradise, spending her childhood and adolescence surrounded by nature. But then came the moment when she fell in love, but love was not allowed, only sex. All the young men were sent away because of it.
Have you had contact with other people involved in the community?
CR: They are all still there. I met Jeanne’s parents, friends of her parents, her half brother and a cousin. In the first phase of my research, I also talked to other people, was interested in everything, until I collected enough material and developed my own story from it. I didn’t want to make a documentary; I wanted the film to have its own sense of autonomy.
What particular aspects of the story did you want to highlight?
CR: It was important to me to take up how a utopia is experienced and tried out. You should never live it out behind closed doors, but openly, as part of a society. What also fascinated me was the role that young people play in this community. These youth would have been the future of the Commune, but they didn’t want to be dictated to how they should live and how they should challenge the ideas of their avant-garde parent generation, so they rebelled.
They wanted to represent their rebellion.
CR: It’s not your classic rebellion. In the film, Jeanne pauses, and in pausing she creates a space for others to react and act. A rebellion does not always mean being against something. Jeanne doesn’t take part, she refuses to take part. And within the community it creates an insane power; Just stopping provokes aggression.
How did you work with the young people in the film and introduce them to the subject?
CR: The decisive scenes of the film are self-presentations within the large group. There were children and young people. It was important that we told them what we were doing. We told them we were re-enacting something that might have been worse in reality, but we condensed it. Clemens Schick, who presides over the commune, also has an important role to play in this. He prepared himself very well and then took the lead in the relevant scenes. We shot with two cameras and no cuts. Clemens led the children and young people in his role as guru. This is how this long dance came about without it being in the script.
How did you decide on Jana McKinnon for the lead role? What brought her to the role?
CR: All actors bring something to their role. Jana has a strong presence. There are a few scenes where she is there and stops. It’s amazing how she manages to assert herself as a young girl against the dominant character of Otto, who does so much and is constantly moving around. I love actors who don’t need to be given many lines but who already have such a presence. I saw that with Jana in the casting process.
The use of a video camera seems important. Have you been inspired by archival footage and its aesthetic?
CR: A huge archive is available. Like many evil people, Otto Muehl and the municipality filmed everything and archived everything. Muehl made the material available to the public because he was not aware of any ambiguity in it. It was descendants of the community who later blocked it. Parts of it can also be seen on YouTube. So this video camera really existed in the commune and we wanted to use it. It records scenes of self-expression, like a camera at a boxing match; It has a documentary page. On the other hand, we then have the alternative world, the rest, which is filmed in a more precise and well-thought-out manner. This part should be more beautiful, more like a fairy tale.