"To become a stranger"
by Bénédicte Prot
- Cineuropa met the Austrian director in Paris, during the Austrian Film Week
Andreas Gruber was born in 1954 in Wels (Austria). After studying Screenwriting and Directing at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna from 1974-1982, he began freelance work for film and television. A member of the city of Wels' City Cultural Committee, he has also been the director of the local film festival KINOVA since 1998. He also wrote and directed The Rabbit Hunt (o.t. Hasenjagd – Vor lauter Feigheit gibt es kein Erbarmen, 1994), The Injured Smile (o.t. Das verletzte Lächeln), and Debt of Love (o.t. Schuld der Liebe).
Cineuropa: Tell us about the genesis of the project. How did you find the idea to reverse situations, and put the white guys in a difficult position?
A.G.: I read a few lines in the newspaper about the true story of Austrian policemen in trouble in Accra. Suddenly there was this idea to create a completely reverse situation. I started some research on the true case and discovered it is quite easy to put Austrian policemen in such a situation. I discovered how easy it is to become a stranger.
Are you fond of comedy or was it just a particular means you used to make a point?
It was very clear that I did not want to make a tragedy or a social drama. While researching the subject, I learned about really tragic cases of deportation, but on the other hand I discovered that some stories have great comic potential. They are as realistic as reality can be but at the same time, they are completely absurd. So, the subject itself naturally led me to make a comedy.
What stage of filmmaking do you enjoy most?
The stage I like most are the weeks of preparation before shooting: finding the locations, discussing and solving problems with the heads of the different departments, staging improvisations with the actors, etc. Its a very creative period, with no time pressure.
The dialogues are witty and there is good action. Did you have fun while shooting?
Shooting has some stressful aspects, but yes, we had a lot of fun. The scenes filmed in Accra with a lot of extras were really great, because the locals loved the story. They enjoyed seeing white men filming white men in a grotesque position.
Was it easy to finance your project?
Not at all. It was actually quite complicated because we needed a European partner —Austria alone could not bear all the costs.
The first idea was to collaborate with a British co-producer, but it did not work. Eventually, we found a German partner (Colonia Media).
Welcome Home [+see also:
interview: Abdi Gouhad
interview: Abdul Salis
interview: Andreas Gruber
film profile] was released last March in Austria. Is something else in the making?
I wrote a script about Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger's love story. It is very interesting but not easy to finance.