Volker Heise, the director of our upcoming two documentary nights "24 Hours Berlin" that screened at the Berlinale 2010, talked with Lavinia Reinke and Oliver Bernau of Barbarella Entertainment about the challenge of narrating a city, among other things: Why make the film go on for 24 hours?
A city can’t be told in a sentence, it defies description. Its basic nature is that of extreme diversity in a very condensed space. That’s why I felt that the appropriate narrative for a city is not a film but a TV broadcast. I stole the basic structure from CNN: news all the time, except that in our case it’s not world news, it’s Mrs. Bullack who goes shopping. And instead of commercials you get video clips from viewers. I also wanted to stay true to the original idea: narrating a city’s many layers, its milieus and the many groups that constitute it. I wanted to avoid some kind of boring lecture. That’s why we decided early on to narrate the city through its people. We follow them all day. From the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. And then we tie these stories together. They comment on each other, they rub against each other, they contradict each other, or they are in perfect harmony. In the end, they create echoes and result in a new sound.
What do you expect will happen on broadcasting day?
I have no expectations but hope that the viewers will see themselves reflected in what we have done. And I would hope that they will approach 24 hours of television like they watch TV. I don’t expect anyone to see everything. They can turn it on and off: half an hour in the morning, half an hour at lunchtime, and a little longer at night. You will always only see a slice of the city, never everything because an entire city is impossible to capture. We tried, of course, but with the intention of failing in cheerful, entertaining and exciting ways (laughs).
Volker Heise is a director, author and editor for documentaries and documentary series. His first directorial work Schwarzwaldhaus 1902 won him the 2003 Grimme Prize. For more than ten years, he has been working with producer Thomas Kufus, developing new documentary formats.
See two 3-hour Passages from the much lauded 24-hr real-time documentary of everyday life in the German capital March 12 +14 in our series GOETHE FILMS @ TIFF Bell Lightbox. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to win a pair of tickets to either night.
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