Director of Soldate Jeannette
Having worked in the independent film scene for over a decade, Austrian director Daniel Hoesl knows the ins and outs of the system and the demands of making a feature-length film. But being a very thoughtful, avant-garde thinker with a vision that differs from the current European status quo, his challenge to make Soldate Jeannette was exacerbated. Working with actor biographies to create a collaborative, organic film, this work of social significance comes from structured improvisation framed with a keen and deliberate photographic eye. The end result premieres at the Sundance Film Festival.
So, what is the European Film Conspiracy?
DH: In Europe, we have a strong film funding system but it's all based on screenplay. Since there are few other ways to get funding for a film, I needed to find people that would work with me and "conspire" to make a movie like this. Ultimately, it was Gerald Kerkletz (DoP), Katharina Posch (producer) and Eva Hausberger (production manager/AD) and myself working on this film. We've been working in the independent film industry for about ten years, so creating an alternate movement where we work with actor biographies and take an improvisational approach came as an experiential response of sorts. What's interesting about making art is that you find out that your own way of thinking and refusal to adjust for others can be problematic, but also a driving force.
How did the collaboration with the writers and actresses, Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg and Christina Reichsthaler, work?
DH: At first, we didn't have a screenplay or any intentions. What we did is decide that this movie would be about women. The first thing that we did was the casting. I met about a hundred people and wrote down their biographies. Normally, you would write the screenplay and cast from that but as previously mentioned, we wanted to create a narrative from natural life experience. And with such a tiny budget and a different approach to filmmaking, we really needed to find actors with biographies that would create a dynamic story worth telling.
Fanni's character lives in a world of money and material goods. Can you discuss how money drives this story and what it means to the characters?
DH: Fanni lives in a money-driven world. In real life, Johanna comes from an old aristocratic family growing up on a castle. When you have money, you always fear that you might lose it. It can be like the wind; it comes and goes. In her position, if you don't have any money, you might become a conman, to keep up the facade. She's cursed by money and a materialistic society where money is ultimately a religion, and at some point she realizes her value in this world is elsewhere. At the mid-way point, when she burns her money, that's a point of relief. Money is a curse of our society. It needs regulation. To contextualize, we might think of debt as a man who comes and gets you, whereas money is like a motherly women trying to help everyone to buy food and get educated and get the stuff they need. But the thing about money is that there are too many men out there that try to trick and abuse the woman (money). When you get rid of materialistic values you regain the values of being.
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