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Katharina Woll • Director of Everybody Wants to Be Loved

“We sometimes say that we absolutely don't want to become like our parents – but often, that’s exactly how it goes”


- In the German director’s first feature, Anne Ratte-Poll plays a psychotherapist in dire need of someone to listen to her and her needs

Katharina Woll • Director of Everybody Wants to Be Loved
(© Sebastian Urzendowsky)

This year's Filmfest München hosted a screening of the first feature by German director Katharina Woll, Everybody Wants to Be Loved [+see also:
interview: Katharina Woll
film profile
. Her intimate portrait of a middle-aged woman trying to make life easy for everyone around her while simultaneously losing herself in the process won the Award for Best Screenplay at the festival (see the news). Everybody Wants to Be Loved features a strong performance by German actress Anne Ratte-Polle in the lead role. The director told us more about the cast and the different aspects of the production process.

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Cineuropa: The cast was essential for your film. Did you think of Anne Ratte-Polle from the beginning?
Katharina Woll:
The casting process was a little more complex in the year of the coronavirus. But I’d had Anne Ratte-Polle in mind from the start, and she got on board the project half a year before we started shooting. I wanted to have Anne because of her strength. She always puts something contradictory into her roles. Here, she plays a character that is not very usual in her repertoire, as normally, she plays more self-determined people. At one point, I was wondering whether a softer and more feminine – in a classical way – actress would be more appropriate for the role, but I liked working with the contrast.

How did you develop the story?
The writing process was very lengthy. I worked with Florian Plumeyer, an author I’ve known for a long time. We thought about the story together, and he wrote. The film is a collaboration between the two of us. The main protagonist is a character that we’d had in mind for a long time; we knew that something interesting could be built around her. First, I was thinking of another story about a mother-daughter relationship, located in Greece. But it was too complex and too expensive to make it. This is why we put the initial idea into another context. Then, it was Anne who imbued the character with the last few important aspects. We realised in the editing process how much she conveys with her acting. This is why we finally also decided to take out the voice-over, with which we had planned to tell the viewer more about the thoughts of the protagonist. Everything is already told without it.

The core of the story is this mother-daughter relationship, which spans several levels. Are there any autobiographical elements that inspired you?
Florian's mother is a sexual therapist, and my aunt is a therapist. So we have some experience in this domain, which we used for the film. We liked to be able to tell the story of three generations of women, mothers and daughters. We were inspired by people we know, which makes it autobiographical, but personally, I can identify with all three women in the film.

What was important in the development of the protagonist’s partner?
At the beginning, we thought he should be from the USA. He had to speak with an accent, but it was difficult to find the right actor for the job. Finally, he became Swiss. I am not sure if everyone will realise that he is Swiss, from Urs Jucker’s acting. But at one point in the story, he says so. We did a casting session and tried coupling him with Anne [Ratte-Polle]. He has great talent as a comic actor.

Does the red hair of the mother and daughter have any special meaning?
We sometimes say that we absolutely don't want to become like our parents – but often, that’s exactly how it goes. The red hair is a symbol of this.

Besides this red colour, the rest of the picture appears rather pale. What was your idea for the visual concept of the film?
The idea was to give the impression of a very hot and humid summer’s day. We wanted the film to have a look that didn’t scream “digital” immediately, even though we did shoot digitally, since otherwise it would have been too expensive. We wanted to have desaturated colours, recalling classical US cinema and the look of the 1960s.

This also suits the place where you shot, as pastel colours are dominant there. Was it difficult to find the shooting location?
We searched for ages. It is a virtually unknown place, and I liked the idea of using somewhere in Berlin that’s quite unusual. We then found this building, built by a Dutch architect. It’s a social housing project, and we were able to use the top flat.

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