“I don’t know how to be a director”
by Boyd van Hoeij
Cineuropa: How did the project Brotherhood [+see also:
Interview Nicolo Donato [IT]
interview: Nicolo Donato
film profile] start?
Nicolo Donato: Simply put, it came from love and from my respect for love. When thinking about a suitable subject from my film, I tried to find two different worlds that aren’t much talked about in Denmark. I tried to take love and put it in a case where love shouldn’t be or shouldn’t logically have happened. But really this movie is about love and nothing else. It could’ve happened to two girls, a man and a woman, two dogs, it doesn’t matter because love is strong, and that’s the whole point of this movie.
Where did the idea of a gay neo-Nazi romance come from specifically?
I saw a documentary a long time ago about gay Nazis, and I felt stupid when I watched that. I was an anti-Nazi guy then, when I did a lot of stupid things. [Leni] Riefenstahl, she did this intro in one of her movies on the Olympics where the athletes are washing each other, rubbing each other’s backs, and all the guys are naked. And I thought, what’s going on here? Isn’t this supposed to be a Hitler movie? It didn’t fit with my idea of Nazism. But of course, you can’t choose your sexuality. I don’t know if there are gay Nazis in Denmark. But in Germany there are, that’s why they did this documentary.
Were you not afraid that by showing them in a passionate affair you would humanize the neo-Nazis too much?
I was afraid it was too much, yes. Also, because I have a lot of gay friends and I was afraid they’d think I was somehow putting them in a Nazi-world. But if you see it as a love story, than everything else disappears. I can’t really say how I tried to make the surroundings fall away and just concentrate on the love story, but I did. Ask me again in ten years, when I’ll have made more movies, and maybe I can tell you then.
Do you think the neo-Nazis in your film are evil?
I think people need to respect other people, that’s the whole point. Nobody is born evil, you become evil for some reason. It could happen to me, I’m half Italian, and we had Mussolini down here, so why not? When I was in a boarding school, I met this black guy who helped me. If he’d been a white guy, and I’d never met nice black guys, maybe I would have become a neo-Nazi, I don’t know.
Personally, I don’t respect the Nazis, of course. I’ve been working with Amnesty International as well, and human rights are one of the most important things to have. But I do understand them in some ways, like their emphasis on being careful with nature, but all the racism, hatred of skin colours or who you have sex with, that’s wrong.
Did you do a lot of research?
Some of my research was with a former neo-Nazi, and it turned out we had been at the same demonstrations when we were younger, only I was on the other side protesting against him! He’s a good guy, and that’s somehow the whole point of this, because we’re only people and we make stupid mistakes. He was not gay, but he was a big influence on the movie, and a lot of his incredible story is up there on screen.
What kind of director are you on set?
I don’t talk a lot, and I don’t rehearse beforehand. I have conversations with the actors before the film. With Nicolas Bro I had lots of coffee. With Thure Lindhard, I went to L.A. while he was shooting Angels and Demons and talked to him there. I just sat down with them and talked about who they are as people, and then used that against them.
On set, I ask them to show me what they’ve got, and the handheld camera is basically a fly on the wall. I do a lot of takes, but I do complete scenes. I don’t like to break up the chemistry between the actors. They just need to be in the scene, that’s the most important thing for me. I don’t care if they say exactly what’s in the script. You know, I come from the fashion world – I don’t really know how to be a director!