Anika Decker • Director of Love Thing
“Without culture, a country is worth nothing”
by Teresa Vena
- The German director tells us more about her film, in which Elyas M'Barek plays a successful actor who has a secret from his past that threatens his career
The new romcom and media satire by German director Anika Decker, Love Thing [+see also:
interview: Anika Decker
film profile], has recently been released in cinemas in Germany, courtesy of Constantin Film. The film, her third feature, which is set in Berlin, gathers together several of the most highly acclaimed German actors, such as Elyas M'Barek and Alexandra Maria Lara in the two main roles. We met Decker and asked her about her inspiration for the story and her passion for theatre.
Cineuropa: Where did your motivation to tell this story come from?
Anika Decker: I was mainly interested in how the tabloid press treats people. I don't criticise the press in itself, since I have a lot of respect for good journalism. But the relationship between people in the public eye and the tabloid press fascinates me. I have heard of real people just like the journalist played by actress Alexandra Maria Lara. She is a ruthless person, who will stop at nothing: she analyses the star’s vomit, sifts through his rubbish, calls his friends and has spies at hotels. I am interested in the dynamics behind the business. One misstep can have massive repercussions, and there can be a news story about it the next day. I guess it must feel awful if you are famous and you are treated badly because of a scandal. It was fun to write the character of the journalist, and it was so great to have Alexandra accept the role just four hours after I sent her the script. She dived into it so enthusiastically. For the role of the star, I worked with Elyas M'Barek. We met up often and discussed which situations in the script could really potentially happen. We realised that we weren’t exaggerating. The first interview scene in the film was very important: we saw it as a duel situation and really had fun shooting it.
In a way, your film is an homage to indie theatre.
Yes, I have great respect for the independent theatre scene. I work in a totally different domain, in mainstream theatre. In the last few years, having met many actors, I have realised just how many talents you can find in the theatre scene. I am happy to have several of them in the film, such as Linda Pöppel, Anna Thalbach and Maren Kroyman. I like the fact that they can slip between the two worlds of theatre and cinema. Independent theatres struggle to find their audience, but the ones that do achieve it have a special atmosphere. I hope we will be able to support them in Germany to the best of our ability, as it’s very important. Without culture, a country is worth nothing. And in the independent theatre scene, it is present in its purest form. Here you can see what people really feel.
This is not the first film that you have shot in Berlin.
Berlin is the place I know best. For a long time, it has been very cheap and has had a vibrant underground culture scene. For me, the city feels very creative, even though this is inevitably changing. But there are still a few niches where people try to fulfil their dreams.
What is a feminist film or feminist theatre, in your opinion?
Each film or theatre production that deals with the topic, I guess. I think all different directions have the right to coexist. For this film, I conducted research about feminist artists, and was mainly interested in the tabooing of the clitoris and menstruation. I think it’s necessary to counteract this.
What were the most important considerations for the visual aspects of the film?
I have known my cameraman for a long time. We started talking about the film already before shooting. We wanted to have aesthetics with a colour concept that would bring to mind the 1970s. We chose a Steadicam in order to get up close to the characters. This is particularly important when the protagonist is chased by the press, as the extras also had to be placed very near the camera. We wanted to recreate the feeling that the viewers were looking at the character’s life through a keyhole.
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