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Interview: Hans-Christian Schmid • Director

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“What we can do is create awareness among the general public”


- The German director attended the press conference for Storm, shown in competition at the 59th Berlinale. These are extracts from statements that reveal a committed filmmaker

Interview: Hans-Christian   Schmid  • Director

Flanked by screenwriter Bernd Lange, actresses Kerry Fox and Anamaria Marinca and actor Rolf Lassgård, German director Hans-Christian Schmid attended the press conference for his latest feature Storm [+see also:
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interview: Alexander Fehling
interview: Hans-Christian Schmid
film profile
, shown in competition at the 59th Berlinale. These are extracts from statements that reveal a committed filmmaker.

How important was it for you to make this movie?
Hans-Christian Schmid: I believe that the movie one is currently making is very important, it is always important. Lange and I talked a lot and did research on the topic. Basically, there were two topics that we had to deal with and we didn’t know very much about them. The first is the former Yugoslavia, and then you shift focus basically, because you have a story to tell as well, so you start trying to tell the story and bring the characters to life. Of course, these two things were very important to me.

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You decided to use a handheld camera during some shots. What made you do that?
The whole movie was made using a handheld camera. My colleague and I are actually a good team in this respect and we like working like this. It’s a nice way to react to what the actors are doing. It is their work that is the centre of my work; it is the centre of my attention. This is why I wanted to give them room to actually move the way they feel fit.

What is your decision-making process before deciding how to deal with a particular topic: to make a documentary or feature film?
There are certain things that you cannot really make a documentary about. The camera is not up to capturing the images accordingly. That is the issue. If you have a topic at hand, and you feel that maybe the camera is not suitable enough, let’s say to capture the images that you have in your mind, as for instance with the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia), then, of course, you have to take a different course of action.

The ICTY is to close down by the end of 2010. How come it took so long for the movie industry to actually take on this subject? What message does this movie convey about the work of the tribunal?
I don’t know why it took so long. I suppose it’s just a very complex issue. I also believe that perhaps what goes on in The Hague (Netherlands) is not really, at first glance, a matter that people would think suitable for a feature film. Maybe people are deterred as well and say: oh maybe this whole process is going to be very complicated. I think what is important is to see how ICTY works and what we would like to criticise is simply the time pressure.

As part of a United Nations strategy, the ICTY is indeed to close down. And, of course, we realise that there are different parties, there might be adversaries, but they are all parties. And during the whole process, nobody - neither the prosecution nor the defence - wants to be under time pressure. There are certain questions that remain open, and this is what we had in mind and we hope this tribunal doesn’t close down either in 2010 or 2011. Maybe what we can do with our film is create awareness among the general public and ensure that the time pressure for the witnesses is reduced.

After this movie, can you still believe in justice?
It is worth working for it, to get as close to it as possible.

Do you think that Germany has become a country with a cinematic style of its own?
Difficult question; I think there are many good German movies and I believe and hope they will have an effect on our business, but I am not sure, of course.


main awards/selection

Berlinale 2009 In Competition
European Parliament LUX Prize 2009 In Competition

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