Why did you want to set up the action in an isolated environment?
There’s a beautiful German term for stories that take place in confined spaces – “Kammerspiel” which translates into “chamber play”. While writing the script for Love, I somehow naturally gravitated towards films and plays of that kind for inspiration. Some of Ingmar Bergman’s films for example, also Ibsen’s plays, which I find particularly striking. There is something eerie about being trapped in a small apartment with strangers, especially within a dysfunctional family rife with secrets and silence. It creates a tension and uneasiness that I find quite fascinating.
How did you create the film’s rhythm?
I have a fondness for elliptical storytelling. To me, cinema opens up the unique possibility to alter the continuum of time: on the screen, past and present can merge into one, they can unfold simultaneously before our eyes. As a side-effect, non-chronological narratives often come with an atmosphere of disruption and uncertainty. They challenge the viewer to constantly question when and where the story is taking place. Or even if it is taking place at all – since they also blur the line between reality and fantasy, just like a dream does. In the editing room Michał (Kuleba) and I would often talk about how we wanted to approach the process intuitively, like writing poetry, placing plot only in second place. For that reason, we began working on the rhythm of the scenes right away, without establishing the general outline and dramatic structure of the film first. We were working backwards in that sense. And as a matter of fact it wasn’t until the very end that we managed to find the right balance between emotion and narrative flow.
How did you work on the guitar music?
Our composer Marcus (Sander) joined us very late in the process. The editing was almost finished at that point, I believe. Up until then, Michał and I had worked with temp tracks and, as it is often the case, gotten used to the music over time. I can’t remember which tracks we used, but safe to say it was some kind of guitar music. When he came in, Marcus and I discussed various alternate arrangements that could work for the score, but quickly settled for acoustic instruments and the guitar – which somehow gave the scenes a very melancholic feel, as if they were being accompanied by a balladeer. Besides, it turned out that Marcus himself is an excellent guitarist. He went on to improvise over various passages of the film, basing the melodies on his immediate emotional reactions to the scenes. As soon as the foundation was in place, we began to layer arrangements on top of the guitar tracks. Remarkably enough, Marcus insisted on playing and recording all of the instruments himself, which was no small feat given the time constraints he had to work under.
How much were you interested in dealing with love, vulnerability, fear… and do you have further projects on these questions?
Most films deal with these topics on some level or another – the need to be loved is simply part of the human condition. They are at the heart of almost every type of conflict, too. In my particular case, I’m interested in relationships and responsibility within the family nucleus, especially when societal realities come into play. That’s my pet issue, if you will. My last film Ela – Sketches on a Departure dealt with it, and the next one Pax Europa will certainly deal with it, too.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
I wouldn’t say that short films allow for more freedom per se. Similarly, I don’t believe in the assertion that short films are merely stepping stones for young writers or directors, leading up to their debut feature. To me, they are both essentially the same medium, opening up the same artistic possibilities – it all depends on how much time and passion you are willing to invest in order to make it work for your particular cause. It seems to be true, however, that short films tend to be more experimental and daring, as filmmakers feel less pressure from what is expected. More often than not there is something poetic or musical about them, too, if you think about it. I certainly draw on short films for inspiration for that very reason.
Liebe – Oder Erinnerung An Judith R. (Love – In Memory of Judith R.) was shown in International Competition.