Lukas Nathrath • Director of One Last Evening
"We were craving distraction and adventure"
by Teresa Vena
- We talked to the German filmmaker about his first feature film shot in a rush during the pandemic and which conveys a feeling of being lost and loneliness
One Last Evening [+see also:
interview: Lukas Nathrath
film profile] had his world premiere in the Tiger Competition at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, after winning the Award for Best Director at the Max Opühls Prize in Saarbrücken (read the news). It is the first feature-length film by German filmmaker Lukas Nathrath, who we met to talk about the genesis of the project, the creativity that came out of the COVID pandemic and the generations' long tradition of communication problems between human beings.
Cineuropa: Where did the inspiration for the film come from? How did the project begin?
Lukas Nathrath: The idea for the film and the film itself came about during the first Corona lockdown. I was in Basel at the time as filmmaker in residence, the theaters were closed and my friend, the actor Sebastian Jakob Doppelbauer, like many of his colleagues, was on a forced break. Sebastian and I were in contact and came up with the idea of developing a film project. Due to this external standstill, we had the feeling that, nevertheless, a lot had started to move inside of us. We were craving distraction and adventure. First, we had an idea for a short film, then it became a feature-length film. But we had no money and no funding. All in all, we got by with 4000 euros, which went mainly into post-production. For the rest, we adapted. In Hanover, many apartments were empty because of the break at the theatre. Sebastian and other members of the ensemble had time and agreed to join in.
How did you go about developing the characters? What aspects were the most important?
I met with each of the actors individually to talk about their roles. Developing the characters was a collaborative effort. The actors asked a lot of questions that were important for the development of the characters. Accordingly, I continued to write the script and gradually adjusted it. It was important that all the characters had one thing in common. They have all experienced loneliness, pain and loss. But they are trapped in their world and can't communicate. I'm interested in observing how people often talk past each other, don't listen, and can't communicate.
How did the ensemble of actors come together?
The actors are all friends with each other. They had idle time because of the COVID break. Sebastian, Nils Rovira-Muñoz, Amelie Schwerk and Nikolai Gemel are at the same theatre in Hanover, Susanne Dorothea Schneider, who plays the neighbour, joined as well. All have experience as theatre actors, but Sebastian and Susanne have also acted in short films. Nikolai has done quite a bit of filming compared to the others.
Clemens composes a song in English. The guests criticise his choice of language. What did you mean by that?
Through the foreign language, Clemens builds up a protection. The language means distancing. For me, the film is also a kind of alienation. It is not autobiographical, but very personal.
It gradually becomes clear that the core theme of the film is Clemens' mental instability. Lisa can no longer take on the responsibility.
Lisa constantly puts herself under pressure and stress. This is a kind of compensation, she always has to compensate for Clemens and her fear for him. Clemens is partially no longer able to live. He has inner hurdles that he tries to overcome. But many people have that in their way. In his character, this liability comes together with the self-doubt that many artists and creative people know. I think everyone can identify with him in one way or another.
What message do you want to convey with the film?
I wanted to show people struggling with themselves, to show what can be behind the facade. We come together and usually we have an opinion of others without really knowing them. The great thing about the medium of film is being able to take a character's perspective and try to understand it.
Do you have literary and cinematic role models?
Chekhov is a great inspiration for me. In his work, people often sit next to each other and talk past each other. So these communication problems already existed at the end of the 19th century, it's not a phenomenon of a certain generation. As for films, John Cassavetes' A Woman Under The Influence is very important to me. He is so precise, relentless, and unsparing in exposing the human condition of the soul. Then there are The Forest For the Trees and Everyone Else [+see also:
interview: Maren Ade
film profile] by Maren Ade, Husbands & Wives by Woody Allen, Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach, or Oh Boy [+see also:
interview: Jan Ole Gerster
film profile] by Jan-Ole Gerster.
You largely use a handheld camera. Why was that important?
The handheld camera is essential to convey a sense of immediacy. The evening during which the story is set was meant to be dynamic, we also wanted to visualise the instability and shakiness of the protagonist. The aesthetic should also correspond to the feverish summer in which we shot. The handheld camera also had practical reasons. We only had one cameraman and we had to be fast. It was important that the actors could move freely.
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