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Interview: Sabine Boss • Director

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“I fell in love with the character immediately”


- Cineuropa met the director of I Am The Keeper, which excelled at the latest Swiss Film Award ceremony.

Interview: Sabine Boss  • Director

Sabine Boss has hit the ground running with I Am the Keeper [+see also:
film focus
interview: Sabine Boss
film profile
(Der Goalie bin ig) by offering a comedy dominated by contrasting moods and a delightfully Swiss ambiance. The Swiss director dramatises the not-so-easy day-to-day life of her anti-hero, the Goalie, who is seeking to make a new life for himself after spending a year in prison. The prejudice and closed-minded, conservative environment of his home country will not make his search for happiness any easier – a happiness that could be considered somewhat utopian. Sabine Boss manages to astonish the viewer with this film thanks to the atmosphere that she creates, which is at once claustrophobic and comforting. It is a movie dominated by a thousand nuances and truly stood out at the latest Swiss Film Award.

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Cineuropa: How did the idea of adapting Pedro Lenz’s book Der Goalie bin ig for the big screen come about? What was it about this novel that attracted you?

Sabine Boss: I read the novel in a single night, and I was laughing and crying at the same time. I fell in love with the character of the Goalie immediately. The next day, my producer, Michael Steiger, called me to ask if I fancied making a film version of it. And you bet I fancied it!

What did the process of dramatising a very specific backdrop (German-speaking Switzerland in the 1980s) mean to you? Did you draw on your own memories of that period in order to create a certain atmosphere, visually speaking?

Of course, everyone contributed his or her own memories to the dramatisation. As we had next to no money, we tried to scout out streets with houses on that had not been refurbished. The first step was to remove all the cars and posters from the streets. Once we had taken these measures and decisions, we had already managed to get a lot closer to the ‘80s.

Does Schummertal constitute a metaphor for Switzerland and all its obsessions (strictness, cleanliness, politeness, sport as a metaphor for a certain type of "health" of body and mind…)? Was the matter of marginality important for you, within this specific context?

Schummertal is a country town. Deep down, it represents Switzerland. I grew up in a city with 15,000 inhabitants – Switzerland doesn’t have big cities. The fact that everyone knows each other and everyone looks at you or stares at you if you’re a little "different" or out of the ordinary really made its mark on our generation, the ‘80s and early-‘90s generation.

Music plays a very important role in your film. How did you approach this aspect?

I had known Peter von Siebenthal since my debut film, while I was at the Zurich University of the Arts. I knew he was the perfect musician for this project.

And what about the fact that the film (like Pedro Lenz’s book) is in Swiss German? Were you not afraid that this characteristic, and the subtleties of a particular language, would be hard to understand outside Switzerland and that the richness of the film would not be fully appreciated?

Unfortunately, we are used to the fact that Swiss fiction films don’t garner much attention abroad. On the basis of that observation, I decided to make a film that was radical, also in terms of the choice of language, a little like it is with Scandinavian films. Of course, I still hope that the universality of the Goalie will also allow him to be discovered at the international festivals – because at its core, I Am the Keeper is a universal film. 


international title: I Am The Keeper
original title: Der Goalie bin ig
country: Switzerland
year: 2014
directed by: Sabine Boss
screenplay: Jasmine Hoch, Sabine Boss, Pedro Lenz
cast: Marcus Signer, Sonja Riesen, Pascal Ulli

main awards/selection

Prix du cinéma suisse 2014 

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