Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

The famous Fatih Akin is a guest at “Manaki Brothers”

17 September, Bitola – Today’s festival day at the “Manaki Brothers” is going by in the sign of the meeting with the famous director Fatih Akin and his cinematographer Rainer Klausmann. Before the special screening of his newest film The Golden Glove, which happened last night at the Center for Culture in Bitola, a large number of fans came to greet him and to take a picture with their favorite director. Before the screening, he thanked the “Manaki Brothers” festival for the invite and said that the first scenes of the film are done in one shot.

He was especially amazed that Edward Lachman also came to the screening, so he spoke to him from the stage:

-I am very honored that the film The Golden Glove will be screened at the ICFF “Manaki Brothers”. Ed Lachman is my inspiration and I would like to say that it was your work as a filmmaker that was an inspiration specifically for this film, because I chose one of the actresses from the film Paradise: Love to also play in this film. There is much to talk about the frames, the shooting, the duration of the shooting, but look at it as a student film and even more as a sport, Akin said.

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 things. 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 sunk 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.

The director of the festival and selector of the documentary program Gena Teodosievska at today’s press-conference introduced the director Arto Halonen and Joonas Pulkkanen, the cinematographer of the documentary film Back Towards Light. The film tells a story of human trafficking, told through Marisa, a girl who applies at a lawyer’s office for work, and suddenly ends up in Tunisia. A shocking testimony about the experience of a girl kidnapped by a man who had done that more than 10 times in Finland and had taken the girls in Tunisia, where he was turning them into sex slaves.

-Part of the film shows the therapy of Marisa who managed to help herself get back into the normal life through painting. She was using certain colors to showcase her emotions, and I later used the same colors as structure for the film. Colors helped her because all moments are connected to a certain color, and together with the director of photography we created a color-structure based on her therapy with colors, Halonen revealed.

Arto Halonen wanted fiction moments in the film and one cannot make up if the actress is the real protagonist or not. There is a significant sublimation of the two persons.

-We had one viewpoint in the whole film. The camera represents the viewpoint of Marisa. We used a special lens to achieve a blurry effect, an “anti-sharp” effect. In terms of the story, when I started working, I was shocked and I wondered if this is truth, the cinematographer Pulkkanen said.

From the European Cinema Perspectives program, the selector Slagjan Penev introduced the crew of the film Open Door: Sevdije Kastrati, Vladimir Stojchevski and Fejmi Daut. The film is a co-production between Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Italy, and showcases life in the traditional society in this region, which still lives with the habits that don’t give any right to a say to women, but that changes now.

-Albanian producer was in need of a co-producer form the country which is eligible for EURIMAGES, because they couldn’t apply with the co-producer from Kosovo, so they asked us to join the project. In meanwhile we applied three times for minority co-production support at the Macedonian Film Agency, but we were rejected. At the end the project was supported by EURIMAGES, which helped us in securing financing for covering of the costs related to Macedonian part of the crew, which was consisted of Fejmi Daut as First Assistant of Camera, the actor Visar Vishka, composer Aleksandar Pejovski and complete sound production and sound design crew, leaded by Igor Popovski and his company Audio House, Stojchevski, the co-producer of the film, said.

Fejmi Daut stuck to the experience while shooting the film Open Door:

-There are many shots in the film done in a car, on busy streets, there were interesting things that happened with the little child that acts in the film, so at times there were also some accidents, but the whole crew was like one big family, Daut said.

Cinematographer of the film is Sevdije Kastrati, who lives in Los Angeles for more than 10 years. She is at the ICFF “Manaki Brothers” for the second time. Last year, she participated with the Kosovar film Marriage and said that “the place where the flim was shot – on the Albanian side of the Ohrid lake shore is a very beautiful, breathtaking part, where there shouldn’t be bad things happening, but the reality is different”.

-The contrast in the film is that in the wonderful place on the shore there are no young people, but only old ones. They’ve all moved out in search for a job, you can’t be a single mother, you have to have a husband to give a birth to a child… The contrast was achieved with the colors at the start of the film, which are dark, and then with the arrival of the sister, dressed in bright colors, comes the light and the “new”, and that makes the change with the main actress. Bad things happen in wonderful places and that is what this film talks about, Kastrati said.

A representative of the film As I Fall was the cinematographer Ivar Taim, who pointed out that “even though we’ve seen many films so far which speak of drug addiction”, this film, for him, was special.

-Statistically, when speaking of addicts, we think of the drug addicts who lay in dark places. And that is 5%, but 95% are people who function and go to work. And in Norway there are the most cases of heroin overdose in Europe. That is a personal story of the director, who has gone through a period of addiction and wanted to share it and show that one can get help while still not being transferred to injecting heroin, Taim said.

The selector Marija Apchevska introduced the cinematographer Constanza Sandoval, who arrived at the festival from Argentina, and who has worked on the short film Monster God.

-This is my third collaboration with Agustina, the director of the film Monster God. The film comes close to intimate subjects, like loss, help etc. It is a research on the significance of God, but shot in a special way. We showed a weird atmosphere in the film and we enjoyed it, we explored with the shooting angles, depth etc., Sandoval said.

Until the end of the day, the following films will be screened: For Sama, Carol (in honor of Edward Lachman), then Vera, The Whistlers, The New Life, A White, White Day, Aga’s House, Tattoo, Blind Dates, as well as the films from the Makpoint program and the student program.