Sarah Blaßkiewitz • Director of Precious Ivie
“For me, being a filmmaker in Germany means being involved in shaping the present and having an impact”
by Teresa Vena
- The German director has just completed her first feature film, premiering at this year's Filmfest München
Young filmmaker Sarah Blaßkiewitz is part of this year's Face to Face promotional campaign by German Films. She has so far worked on the very successful web series Druck and has now completed her first feature film, Precious Ivie [+see also:
interview: Sarah Blaßkiewitz
film profile]. The film is nominated for both the First Steps Award, dedicated to the young generation of German filmmakers, and the annual German film prize (Deutscher Filmpreis). We talked to her about the degree of personal experience in the story and the production of the film.
Cineuropa: In your work, you repeatedly deal with the topic of family. Is your own family your main source of inspiration?
Sarah Blaßkiewitz: My sources of inspiration are my life, my friendships and also my family. I have a very large and loving family that shares a lot with me. When I wrote the script for Precious Ivie, the personal part in it was very high. So in this movie, I created protagonists who were born out of my personal experience.
Precious Ivie is your feature film debut. Where did the idea for the story come from?
I was preparing another script first which was going to be my debut film. The story was quite unrelated to me, except that the main character was a black woman. I then put that story aside, while a lot of changes in my personal life occurred. I found my own self-image through writing this other script. I questioned again who I was, what I wanted. Suddenly, after thirty years, the same age as Ivie, I found gaps in my own biography. I remembered being asked a few years ago how I felt about being an Afro-German woman and how that messed me up. I started looking at everything through this magnifying glass. I was aware of everything I had put up with in order to function in this society. I saw what people were reading into me, what the outside world thought of me. And since I am a director, a filmmaker, I put these thoughts into a creative process, into a script, by creating a story that I wanted to tell and that I wanted an audience to see and feel.
Why did you set the story in Saxony?
On the one hand, because I'm from Saxony myself. But mainly because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone in Berlin. I wanted to see, with a documentary interest, what Leipzig is really like, how the city works. I then perceived the city in a new way. It's an exciting city between East and West, left and right, past and present. Berlin was too close to me at the time and in Leipzig, I was able to do something new.
How did you find the actors for the film?
I wanted to make an ensemble film. I wanted to unite many voices so that I wouldn't stand alone. That's why there are two sisters. There is something of me in both of them, but of course they are their own characters too, and at time they couldn't be further away from my character. For the role of Naomi, I knew from the beginning that it would be the actress Lorna Ishema. I wrote the role for her. For the role of Ivie, we did auditions and found Haley Louise Jones. With her as my Ivie, I knew I would be able to tell the story I wanted to tell.
The dialogues and the interplay between the actors seem very authentic and immediate. How did you work with the actors?
The dialogues are all there in the script, and rehearsals were very important for me. I had to immerse myself in the story together with the actors. I had a clear idea of what I wanted to see in each scene, and we went through that in the rehearsals. There was this interaction between professional actors and amateurs who coordinated with each other.
How did you develop the visual concept of the film?
I developed the concept together with cinematographer and my longtime friend Constanze Schmitt and her partner David Schmitt. Together, we designed the storyboard, the colour concept, etc. On set, Constanze operated the camera while David did the lighting and both of them coordinated the camera department. So during the shoot, everything was settled and I was able to concentrate on directing.
What does it mean for you to be a young filmmaker in Germany?
For me, it means being involved in shaping the present and having an impact. It means putting relevant content onto every screen that I can, dealing with a topic that you would otherwise deal with as a politician, teacher or journalist. But I chose the creative path because film is my passion.
In collaboration with
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.