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BERLINALE 2024 Panorama

Michael Fetter Nathansky • Director of Every You Every Me

“My film is a love story, but it’s not about finding ‘the one’”


- BERLINALE 2024: A person you love can have many different faces, as the German director proves in his new outing

Michael Fetter Nathansky • Director of Every You Every Me

Factory worker Nadine (Aenne Schwarz) meets Paul (Carlo Ljubek), an impulsive man who seems to change every other minute, going from anger to happiness. For a while, they are happy together, but their love is exhausting Nadine, and a few years later, she wonders if she has anything left to give. We talked to Michael Fetter Nathansky about his Berlinale Panorama entry Every You Every Me [+see also:
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interview: Michael Fetter Nathansky
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Cineuropa: This idea to combine social realism with a little bit of magic and fantasy is unexpected.
Michael Fetter Nathansky:
It’s the way I always like to work – I like to combine genres. When I first started out, I would write poems – very bad, cheesy ones – and make documentaries. I was interested in realism, but I would put some fictitious elements in there anyway, trying to look at reality in another way. I was really paying attention to all these “meta” films when I was studying and just loved experimenting like that.

A cow turns into a man. There is something great about not explaining some weird occurrences, and this is precisely what you do. But it’s more about perception than sci-fi.
That’s how love works – it’s about learning to deal with our own illusions. Do the people we care about fit into them, or maybe not any more? I don’t treat this sensation as some kind of joke – it’s very normal. This idea of having one person portrayed by different actors is something that’s been done before. But when you say it’s just someone’s perspective, in this case that of this woman, that’s different. It’s all about the way she sees him.

Their relationship is exhausting. It demands so much from her. Why did it interest you? What fascinated you about the moment when, deep down, you know you no longer feel what you used to?
That might be the saddest and most terrible thing. My film is a love story, but it’s not about finding “the one”; it’s about the ability and the inability to love. If someone cheats, at least you have a reason to leave. But these two used to be such a good team. They used to help each other, and still, her love disappears. It makes me very sad to even think about it, but that was my starting point. It’s impossible to grasp the exact moment when it happened, and this impossibility drives her crazy.

And it makes her feel guilty, probably. It doesn’t help that they are already struggling to pay their bills.
She wants to love him, desperately. But how do you reactivate love? I wanted to create an atmosphere where everything was being questioned. They don’t know how this bad situation at work will develop, which also mirrors their relationship. There is always a sense of uncertainty. She doesn’t feel safe anywhere. Normally, you can say: “I know who I am, I know where I work and I know who I love.” This is not possible for her, and it’s a heavy burden.

We all know stories about women who sacrifice themselves – usually, for their families. She never becomes a martyr, however.
She’s incredibly strong. She holds everything together at the factory; she has always been supported by her husband, also through his panic attacks. But she is asking herself the biggest question right now: “Am I able to love?” Her husband, who is so insecure and seemingly so weak, doesn’t have to do that – he knows how to love. He doesn’t question it. It wasn’t an easy performance, because Aenne had to show that Nadine wants to be attracted to him, but she loses him anyway. Also, she had to be able to express the same feeling towards different characters, in a way. Thanks to her, we always know it’s the same person hiding in there somewhere.

You talk about some serious topics here and show people fighting for their jobs. Did you think that in order for people to hear these messages, you needed to deliver them in a different, more surprising way?
These ideas come from a very personal place, as it’s the only way I can tell them. I need this kind of language; I need to be able to show my own vulnerability. I know it’s risky, but that’s what I want to do.

Despite his outbursts, Paul is not a bad man. You show him with kids, and he is a good dad. Were you trying to make it even harder for her?
I wanted to make it as hard as possible. She has lost her ability to see something in him. But maybe in the future, when she is curious about life again, she will discover his new incarnations? Paul has weaknesses, he is not Mr Perfect, but there is a kindness to him. That’s what I find so hard sometimes – when there is no easy explanation and things still end between people. How do we deal with that?  

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