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Friederike Jehn • Director

Humor and visuality

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- Summer Outside is one of the few German films to succeed in running at an A-festival in 2012

Friederike Jehn • Director

We meet in a café in the old-town district of San Sebastian. Two days earlier Friederike Jehn’s film Summer Outside premiered in the Kutxa competition of the Basque festival, which is reserved for young directors. It was a great experience for the 35-year-old director: “San Sebastian is a very warm-hearted festival, you get really well looked-after, and the festival itself is wonderful.” Summer Outside is one of the very few German films to succeed in running at an A-festival in 2012 – a great triumph for Jehn, who lives in Berlin and can expect to experience a breakthrough at home with this, her first international appearance.

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Summer Outside is more mature and covers a wider spectrum than Jehn’s feature film debut Dancing on and on, with which she already won numerous prizes. But even in Dancing on and on the focus is on a young, self-confident female, who does not appear quite as smooth as many of today’s cinematic characters. “In the case of both characters, I fought to make them active, and also to recount what was going on inside them using cinematic means. The thing that links both characters and the two films: there are strong, existing inner conflicts but the young women do not talk about them very much. Instead, they attempt to find a way out of the situation.”

For Jehn, the work on the film was a very good, and also new experience in many respects: “I co-wrote the screenplay with another author for the first time – that worked very well because we partnered up so easily. When I see the film today, I cannot say which of us had exactly what ideas.”

Work with actors, including preparation work, is one of the things about her profession that particularly attracts her. “I am not one of those people who have always known that they wanted to become a filmmaker,” she says to explain her career, “for some time, I was also very interested in the theatre.” At school she was in a theatre group, and later she wanted to complete a degree in theatre studies. This only changed as a result of work experience at a film production company.

Isolated worlds where characters have to fight their way out and find their own place in life is another parallel, which runs through Friederike Jehn’s films. At present she is working simultaneously on two ideas for films: on a children’s film and the film version of a novel about the 1968 revolutionary movement. A sense of belonging is vital to her personally, as well.

Some names keep re-appearing in her works: Bernd Lange, who she met at the film academy, and “who has acted as a tutor and coach for me”, Ben von Grafenstein, with whom she studied – he took on the editing of her very first film, “or also my cameraman Sten Mende, with whom I have already made four films.”

By contrast, she has always changed her producer for each work to date. However, this has been due to chance and the vagaries of the German film support scene – and Jehn already made a film, while at the film academy, together with Hanneke van der Tas, with whom she is currently developing a feature film project. Jehn views her profession realistically, having no illusions: “I thought that a time would come when you got to feel more secure. But I do feel closer to the profession now. Although; there are still moments when I feel as if I am right back at the beginning.”

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