|Maren Ade at the European Parliament. Photo: Matthijs van der Veer|
També podeu llegir l'entrevista traduïda al català aquí.
Maren Ade (Karlsruhe, Germany, 1976) talks with us at Strasbourg with a gracious smile, still not believing the good reception her third film, Toni Erdmann, is having everywhere. Winner of the critic’s prize at Cannes and San Sebastián film festivals, it now has been awarded the LUX Film Prize.
The LUX Prize is a great ambassador for European movies. However, on the other hand, it is a bit sad that we need awards like this to promote our own cinema in order to face the Hollywood invasion in our own countries. Which do you think is the main problem European cinema has to reach audiences?
I think that its biggest issue is to reach a younger audience because of the time they tend to spend nowadays in their laptop. That’s a sad thing, and that’s why I think it’s really important to preserve cinema in its original form: as a place where you can watch a film with other people. Toni Erdmann was really a good example of that, because you could feel a different experience when the cinema was full.
So what would you do the get this young generation back to the movies?
Actually, after the first two weeks Toni Erdmann had been playing at the theatres, I thought it would have been a good idea to make the entrance free or cheaper to people under 25 for the first month. This may had helped young people to rediscover cinema in its original form. When my parents were younger, they went to the cinema every day because they could rely on its program, but this doesn’t exist anymore and cinemas are not those very special places they used to be.
The LUX prize is not the first award Toni Erdmann receives. In fact, it won the critic’s prize both at San Sebastian and Cannes film festivals, although it didn’t win any of the official jury awards. Hence, I would like to know which is the importance you give to film prizes?
Film prizes are good to create awareness but they are not the most important things. I have to say the Cannes experience was really interesting, though. You cannot imagine how I felt when I was told my film would be at the main competition. For me, that was THE thing. It wasn’t until later that I realised there were these awards I could win! [Laughs]. And then there was the good press reaction to the movie, which created some sort of hype, so everyone expected a prize… However, when I talk to other filmmakers we all agree that prizes are not that important because cinema is not football. Everybody played his game when they were doing the film and the prizes depend on how the voting process is, if it pleases these five people in the jury… Then, our film was popular at Cannes, but it doesn’t mean it was the most radical or the film that took the bigger risks, so how the awards go is always a complicated thing to predict. As I said before, it’s not like in sport, because you cannot compare films so well…
“It’s really important to preserve cinema in its original form”
Some people has compared Toni Erdmann to La Grande Bellezza in the sense that both movies got snubbed at Cannes, but they started to become more successful afterwards, during the awards season. Sorrentino’s film ended up earning the Oscar for Best Foreign Picture and yours has been submitted to the Academy as the German candidate…
Yes! We are in Olympics now. It was a nice experience that so many people from Germany really liked the film despite being a bit special. After this rollercoaster, I think I will never need therapy in my life anymore! [Laughs]. Hopefully, it will make it easer to get a bigger budget next time but, anyway, I will have to do a new film at a certain point and then is when you are all alone again.
I think the tone you gave Toni Erdmann was really fresh. This mixture of comedy, awkwardness and tenderness worked really well. Was it something you were pursuing from before you started to write the script or you discovered it while working on the movie?
The tone is something that comes out of your handwriting, in a way, and I knew I didn’t want it to be pure comedy. Actually, Winfried is the one who plays the comedy for his daughter and this is something he is doing out of desperation. I was focused on this simple storyline of this father who is transforming himself all the time in order to get closer to her daughter. And that worked for me because it was not me who had to be funny for an audience. So it started more as a film about humour, and I hoped it would be funny at the end. What I didn’t expect, though, and that really surprised me, is how much the people ended up laughing at the theatre.
Toni Erdmann was the only film from 2016 that was included at the BBC’s movie list “Best films from the 21st century”. Then, I would like to ask you to name three movies from that very century that you would highlight.
Wow! I need to think a bit about this… I like a lot Miguel Gomes’ films and I would pick Tabu (2012) as one of the films I liked the most from this century. Then, I’d add Blissfully Yours (2002) and I am also a big fan of very long films, so Lav Díaz would be in my list as well. There is one particular movie of his I would like to recommend if you have time for a nine-hour film, which is called Heremias (2006). These were the first three movies that came to my mind on the first place, but hopefully they are many more.
“Cinemas are not those very special places they used to be anymore”
|Adrià Guxens and director Maren Ade at Strasbourg. Photo: Matthijs van der Veer|