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Radmila Djurica

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Walking on Clouds

Two full decades after the fall of the wall, and German political and cultural changes suggest an increasing desire for German people to be perceived without mentioning the fall of the wall in the back. This year Cinema City festival in Novi Sad showed a film retrospective of one of the most important contemporary German authors, Dresen Andreas, the honored guest of  Serbia. Andreas was also guest on Master Class at Kusterndorf Festival of Emir Kustrurica and this is not his first time in Serbia.

Dresen comes from a theatre family with mother actress and father a theatre director. This milieu left a strong impression on him, but finding out how difficult working in the theatre is, and what it means politically to make theatre in the GDR gave him another direction in life. His first camera Dresen has got from his father, an 8mm camera in the mid-1970s. It was an AK 8, a small, with a spring mechanism that he had to wind up. With this camera he began his first filmmaking, shooting material at the zoo.
He is of course very much influenced by Eastern European cinema, since many of great films were shown on television (for instance Volker Schlöndorff or Fassbinder). Eastern European cinema resulted often in a more poetic way of telling stories and creating subtexts was the most because audiences were trained to read it and Dresen is coming from GDR.So he is one of the rare successes of contemporary German because he was born and raised in the GDR – and finished film school education there.

After a series of short films for DEFA – east German film industry controlled studio – Dresen managed to adjust to the market and to make a European German films. Therefore better positioned Dresen managed to build a niche for his peculiar brand of filmmaking , to bridge the humanist, neo-realist tradition of many GDR films on one hand with the commercial, entertainment valued by a market in nowadays German system.

Thus, in the selection of Respect to Andreas Dresen there were screened total of five films featured on some of the most important European and international film festivals, where they won major awards, prizes and frank criticism of audience sympathy. Andreas makes simple stories that carry warmth, humanity, intimacy and genuanity. Directed by Dresen these films feature excellent photography and selected cast suite.Films shown at the 2012 Cinema City were: Halbe Treppe (Grill Point) from 2001, Nachtgestalen (Nightshapes) from 1998, Wolke 9 ( Cloud 9) from 2008, Vodka Mit Whisky ( Whiskey with Vodka) from 2009 and Halt auf freier Strecke ( Stopped on Track) from 2011.

On Cinema City I made an interview with Dresen, but my voice recorder broke down, so instead of interview I am writing article according to what we have talked about. Andreas Dresen’s stories are warm and interesting and I wanted to know how he chooses screenplay and the actual story: Andreas told me about the screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase who told him the story during a train trip Lünen-Berlin and asked whether he would be interested in reading it. Humanity in Dresen’s films is depicted so well and he wants to know when do people give in, how do they get themselves into a difficult situation? What I like in Andreas’ films are genuine characters, all seeking happiness, also depicting the fear of being alone as a fundamental issue with such wonderful humor. And this is where the great talent is.

I also wanted to know about dialogue in his films. The dialogues are written in such a precise and simple manner, with no false sentimentality that demands an enormous precision in a way. Andreas told me about the rhythm in his dialogues, and if the rhythm shifts you can loose everything especially with the comedy. A good screenplay offers an artistic language that creates reality on a very high level and that is why it seems so close to a real life.

At the end I had to add that I really liked the part from the film Halt auf freier Strecke ( Stopped on Track) about a Frank dying man who orders music for his own funeral in advance Dead Man Walk by Neil Young, which is very effective cause it represents this humanity issue with a great sense of humor. The film was improvised in order to create a maximum of spontaneity. Andreas Dresen did not write a script as such. The dialogues were completely improvised by the actors. "We interviewed staff in palliative care, doctors and people who had lost loved ones to terminal illnesses. We filmed every interview, we compiled them all and then discussed them with the actors. That is how we created the characters." And what a wonderful film they have created!

Mind you, I know a man who ordered songs by the band  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for his 18 years old daughter's funeral: But in case of this man this was very inappropriate!  A true story! I was at the funeral!

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