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Finland / Germany

Birgit Möller • Director of Franky Five Star

“I’m not sure if the coming-of-age process is ever completed”


- The filmmaker has been at the German Film Fest Madrid to screen her second feature, a comedy-drama about adolescence in which the mind of the protagonist contains a hotel occupied by five creatures

Birgit Möller  • Director of Franky Five Star
(© Anna Kappelmann)

Franky Five Star [+see also:
film review
interview: Birgit Möller
film profile
is the title of the new fantasy flick by Birgit Möller, following Valerie. It stars Lena Urzendowsky (Germany Year Zero) and was screened last week at the 25th edition of the German Film Fest Madrid. We caught up with the German helmer to find out more about the film.

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Cineuropa: The German Film Fest Madrid website compares Franky Five Star to the universes of Michel Gondry and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Do you consider yourself a fan or a disciple of these filmmakers?
Birgit Möller:
That’s an honour. I’m a big fan of Michel Gondry, and his film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind inspired me in particular, with its mix of bold playfulness, emotion and profound research into the human mind. I love it when a film takes me into its specific universe, makes me laugh and cry, and keeps me thinking about my life long after watching it. Of course, I’m looking to forge my own path as a filmmaker.

How much of your teenage self is in the main character, Franky?
I always recognise myself in my characters. For me, making films is a way to communicate something that’s difficult to say with words. That feeling of still searching for who I am, the feeling of awkwardness in so many situations, the longing for someone who will understand and love me, along with all the silly sides of my personality. I’m not sure if the coming-of-age process is ever completed – I still feel like that.

Why does Franky's hotel have five stars – denoting real luxury – and not four or three?
The freedom and joy of filmmaking lie in being able to find images for the imaginary. Inside Franky’s head is an old hotel with five weird and loveable characters – they are the Five Stars. The hotel is actually not luxurious, but pretty run down. During the planning, we imagined the memories of former generations and the influences from movies and books that would mould our imaginary world.

What is it about chickens that fascinates you so much?
The chicken is something akin to a messenger of love between the worlds in the film. My co-writer came up with it, but I was in immediately because I love chickens: in my first feature, Valerie, a chicken also appears out of nowhere.

Is your movie aimed at young people or the whole family?
My experience so far has been that audiences of very different ages love the film. I did not make it especially for young people, but I love it when they can connect with it as well. It shows me that my young “me” is still active.

Do we still carry a hotel inside our heads, even as adults?
Yes, I believe that we all have different sides or voices in us that can sometimes be very helpful and sometimes be completely embarrassing. Like a professional me, a childish side, another side bursting with sudden aggression… I also think that the state of falling in love can make us especially insecure about ourselves. How do I want to be seen? And how much can I show of myself?

In Franky Five Star, a lift connects the head of the protagonist with the outside world. In which famous person’s lift would you like to ride yourself?
That’s a great question. The most fascinating and creative people did not always have an easy life, and some struggled long and hard with their inner personalities. I guess for research and inspiration purposes, I would like to visit the minds of great filmmakers like Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola and Andrea Arnold.

Why did it take you so long to shoot your second film after 2006’s Valerie?
My first feature was my graduation film from film school. It took me quite some time to develop and finance this next project because such a high-concept film is not so easy to sell. Especially in Germany, the decision makers are not very courageous. That makes me even happier to be able to show this film now. It’s like a long pregnancy, and now the baby has been born!

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