Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Masterclass with Fatih Akin and Rainer Klausmann in the Big Hall of the Center for Culture in Bitola

17 September, Bitola – Moderated by Gena Teodosievska, a masterclass was held with the exceptional guests of the 40th edition of the “Manaki Brothers”, the director Fatih Akin and the cinematographer Rainer Klausmann, who work as a tandem for more than 15 years. Because of the big interest of the film lovers and the ones who pay respect to the works of these top masters of film, the scheduled meeting in the Small Hall of the Center for Culture was transferred to the Big Hall, so around 200 attendees could hear the opinions of Akin and Klausmann and to debate with them following last night’s screening of their newest work, the controversial trash-horror The Golden Glove.

Akin and Klausmann had shot 8 feature films as a tandem, starting with Solino in 2002. With Head On, The Edge of Heaven, Soul Kitchen, The Cut, Goodbye Berlin, and In the Fade, Akin as a director won awards at the most prestigious festival in Venice, Cannes, Berlin etc. Klausmann – a very well-known name in the world of cinematography with Downfall by Oliver Hirschbiegel (a story about the last days of Hitler, with the exceptional Bruno Ganz) – the last decade and a half shoots exclusively with Akin. In 2017 he won the Silver Camera 300 at the “Manaki Brothers” for In the Fade, and last year he was a member of the jury for the main competition program.

Reminding the attendees on the development of Akin’s career, who entered the world of film as an actor, and then went on as a scriptwriter, director and producer, Teodosievska asked them about their first meeting. Akin had met Klausmann when he was about 21-22 years old, when he was trying to make it big as an actor in the middle of the 90s.

-Klausmann was very direct with the instructions on set and I have met my cinematographer, because he was innovative, Akin said.

Klausmann, remembering their first collaboration, said that he noticed that Akin was very bright as an actor and that he worked quickly.

But their first common work as a director-cinematographer tandem happened on the shooting of the third authorial film by Akin, Solino.

-What is important for me is to work on my own rhythm, and Akin was very curious about everything in terms of the camera and he learned fast, Klausmann says.

Answering the question of the moderator Gena Teodosievska on how their first day of shooting goes on, Akin and Klausmann say that they agree on possible changes of the set very quickly.

-The friendship with Klausmann lasts for a very long time, we are like in a marriage relationship. I want to learn new thing. I think that the best things that can happen in one’s life are the various experiences. When the novel Tschick became a bestseller, I really wanted to take it to the screen, but the film project under the name of Goodbye Berlin already had its director. However, six weeks before the shooting started, the director got out of the picture, so they hired me. The film already had its creative team, with another cinematographer. I started shooting, but after three weeks and after a complicated legal procedure – because the agreements have already been signed – I managed to get Klausmann as a cinematographer in the team. It’s nice to be “married” to Klausmann, Akin explained through laughter.

Talking about the directing procedure in their newest film The Golden Glove, Akin explained that he did the film according to the novel. As a matter of fact, the events with the serial killer in Hamburg were actually happening in Akin’s neighborhood, and his uncle was the closest neighbor to Franz Honka.

-I don’t like the Hollywood style of representing serial killers as sexy and intelligent. I spoke to a psychologist about what was in the head of this killer, and he just said – nothing!, Akin explained.

Akin and Klausmann also explained details about the scenography-cinematography-direction solutions about the tight space of the ruined attic apartment, where the most of the horror-drama in The Golden Glove is happening.

-The scenography solution about the size of the apartment is about a meter wider than the original, but as we were shooting the scenes, we were gradually tightening the space by moving the walls, Akin says.

On the question of how he explains the indifference of the surroundings of the serial killer and the possibility for him to act for whole 5 years, and if such a case can repeat nowadays, Akin says that he believes it can.

-The story chronologically starts in 1968; that’s the rebellious generation, but only in the circle of the well-educated young people and intellectuals. We have a lower class in this story, which had sank into alcoholism in the effort to forget the past and World War II. I live in that same neighborhood up to this day, but, unlike in those past days, when it was treated as a migrants’ ghetto, today it’s a fancy part of Hamburg. In those days, no one would pay attention to the notices of the Turkish workers that something terribly stinks in the neighboring apartment, because they would be then told that the Turks themselves stink, Akin thinks.

Akin, who is at the moment working on a mini-series about the life of the legendary actress from Europe and Hollywood from the 30s, Marlene Dietrich, thinks that sometimes the characters are leading the story of the film, and sometimes the story forms the characters.

In terms of the experience in working with the world acting star Diane Kruger (rising to fame with the role of Helena in Troy) on In the Fade, Akin honestly says that in a way she saved his career, which at that moment was going downhill. But, on the other hand, Akin was also in a way saving her career at that period.

On the question about the violence in his films, Akin says that it cannot be avoided, as it is all-present in our surroundings, and he points out that as a young man he liked gangster films.

-Every director at the start thinks he is the best, and that egoism isn’t a bad thing, because it comes form his way of life in his youth, his friends. I had other inspirations in my youth, and nowadays I have others, Akin says.

The cinematographer Edward Lachman, laureate at this year’s edition of “Manaki Brothers”, also joined in on the hour-and-a-half conversation, and recommended to Akin and Klausmann the following:

-Shoot on film!

Akin replied to that that he would love to shoot on film, but that the cinemas are half empty nowadays and the audience is used to a digital image, and the producers keep lowering the budgets. Lachman still gave them practical advices on how to please the producers, and still shoot a film on a film strip.