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Lars Kraume • Director

“Every film a new adventure”


- German Films sat down with German director Lars Kraume to present a portrait of the director and his career: past, present and future

Lars Kraume  • Director

It was his father’s fault: “He’s a cineaste and he dragged me to the cinema to see all sorts of films very early on,” Lars Kraume recalls. He was born near Turin/Italy in 1973, grew up in Hesse, not far from Frankfurt, and he soon developed a huge passion for pictures himself – he began to take photos at 12, and at only 15 he borrowed his father’s (a commercial graphic designer) triple-lens Bolex movie camera: “Slowly but surely, the bold idea emerged that I could perhaps make films, too.”

While still at secondary school and after his graduation – while completing his alternative to military service – he worked as an assistant to well-known photographers; after his successful application to the German Film and Television Academy (DFFB) in Berlin he moved to the capital in 1994, where he still lives today. He openly admits that he lacked confidence at the start of his course in direction. But Kraume tells me that Florian Lukas, already an experienced actor even then, with whom he made two prize-winning short films at the DFFB, gave him back his self-confidence: “Florian said that working with me was immense fun, so I thought maybe I wasn’t entirely out of place as a director! 

Kraume is seen as rather a chameleon because he won’t be pinned down to a single genre or style. The flexible director has made, among other things, a lively satire on commercialism (Viktor Vogel – Commercial Man), an apocalyptic vision of the future (Days to Come [+see also:
film profile
), a cheerful drama about death (My Sisters [+see also:
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film profile
), and an atmospherically haunting political thriller (The People vs. Fritz Bauer [+see also:
interview: Lars Kraume
film profile

“The reason why my films are so different is that I try to embark on the biggest possible adventure each time,” Kraume explains. “My most important role models have always been directors capable of changing, such as John Huston, where you always have the feeling that every film is a new and exciting venture. If there were no new challenges for me, I could never summon the energy to engage with a subject so intensely as a filmmaker.”

Nevertheless, there is something like a thread running through his work: family constellations often play a decisive part. “The relationships between siblings, the family as a place of retreat and a battlefield – that is all close to my heart,” Kraume explains.

A second constant in Kraume’s œuvre is his debate with political subjects: “I make films because I am worried about what’s happening in my country and our cultural sphere,” his films Good Morning, Mr. Grothe and Days to Come both responding to and examining political issues in Germany. 

There is also a political impetus behind Kraume’s most successful film to date, The People vs. Fritz Bauer. It is about a state public prosecutor from Hesse, who struggled against staunch opposition to track down Nazi criminals and take them to court at the end of the 50s. “Fritz Bauer was a true hero – one of the few there were in Germany,” Kraume affirms. The exciting political drama celebrated its world premiere at the festival in Locarno, where it also won the sought-after audience award.

He was also delighted after the invitation to Locarno, as he had very much wanted the world premiere of this specifically German story to take place abroad: “We made this film for an international audience, because I believe that Fritz Bauer can inspire people all over the world. His courage and his stubborn determination are a wonderful encouragement to everyone who is taking a stand against injustice.” 

And so Kraume is very happy that The People vs. Fritz Bauer has been sold in more than 20 countries in the meantime. “I think it’s a shame that usually German films are only successful abroad when they engage with German history,” he says. “But I certainly won’t let that limit me to history films!” So, onward to new challenges? “Yes,” says Kraume, laughing. “I’m already wondering what stories I could film in English.”

He still has one unfulfilled dream: “One day, I would love to make a film that appeals to a really big audience,” he confesses. Kraume regrets the fact that some German intellectuals turn their nose up at filmmakers who aim to reach as many viewers as possible. “Because surely that is cinema’s very own, initial strength: the fact that it enables us to experience strong emotions together, in a big group!”

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