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PRODUCTION Germany / Bulgaria / Austria

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Valeska Grisebach finishes Western in time for Cannes


- The German director’s drama about Germans working in Bulgaria will be shown in the Un Certain Regard sidebar

Valeska Grisebach finishes Western in time for Cannes
Western by Valeska Grisebach

More than a decade after her Longing [+see also:
film review
film profile
 was selected in the Berlinale competition, German director Valeska Grisebach returns to the spotlight with Western [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Jonas Dornbach
interview: Valeska Grisebach
interview: Valeska Grisebach
film profile
, which has been selected in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard competition. The project was produced by Komplizen Film (Germany), and co-produced by The Chouchkov Brothers (Bulgaria) and Coop99 Filmproduktion (Austria). 

The screenplay, written by Grisebach, focuses on a group of German construction workers who start a difficult job on a remote site in the Bulgarian countryside. The language barrier and cultural differences will become a cause for mistrust and prejudice, but they will also spark off a competition for the locals’ recognition and favours.

Producer Jonas Dornbach tells Cineuropa that the film was shot over 45 days in the summer of 2015 in Southern Bulgaria, near the Greek border, in the village of Petrelik and its surroundings. He also says that the production was especially challenging, as “Valeska Grisebach always works on a treatment basis”, which meant that “the entire team and cast always had to be on standby, as things changed every day”. The film’s DoP is Bernhard Keller.

Grisebach says her third feature was inspired by the western genre. “I wanted to get closer to the solitary, inflated, often melancholic male characters of the western. All of this corresponded with the subject of latent xenophobia – something I’ve long wanted to explore in a film. I was interested in this idea of ‘German-ness’, which sometimes manifests as an indistinct feeling of strength, of superiority – the impulse to place yourself in the highest status, to differentiate yourself. The moment in which contempt supersedes empathy,” the director explains, adding, “The idea of relocating a group of German men to a worksite in a foreign country suddenly gave me a means to access this topic.”

Western is being represented by Films Boutique.

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