In a large, run-down house in the idyllic Austrian countryside—which, back in the ’80s, was the site of a sexually liberated commune—Hans, the charismatic former commune leader, dies, attended by his oldest son, who never got the approval he craved. In writer-director Marie Kreutzer’s amazingly assured first film, Hans’ four adult children—one of whom, Kyra, has not seen her siblings in 23 years—reunite for his funeral and thrash out their complicated and conflicting feelings about their childhoods, uncovering buried secrets. With novelistic richness, Kreutzer’s drama examines the fallout from a failed utopian dream and the consequences of unbridled freedom. [Synopsis courtesy of Los Angeles Film Festival]
[indieWIRE invited directors with films in the Narrative Feature and Documentary Competitions at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival to submit responses in their own words about their films. These profiles are being published through the beginning of the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival. To prompt the discussion, iW asked the filmmakers about what inspired their films, the challenges they faced and other general questions. They were also free to add additional comments related to their projects.]
Directed by: Marie Kreutzer
Screenwriter: Marie Kreutzer
Producers: Robert Buchschwenter, Alexander Glehr, Franz Novotny, Ursula Wolschlager
Cinematographer: Leena Koppe
Editor: Ulrike Kofler
Music: David Herbenstreit
Responses courtesy of “The Fatherless” director Marie Kreutzer.
Your movie: In 140 characters or less, what’s it about?
Four siblings, who grew up in a hippie commune, reunite in the house of their childhood, when their father – the former commune leader – dies.
OK: Now tell us what it’s really about.
I wanted this to be a film about family and belonging, using the commune and its values and ideas as a background for a complex story about what we all have to deal with: parents, brothers, sisters and the fact that we cannot get rid of where we come from. “The Fatherless” is an ensemble film, and every character has his or her own view on what happened in their family and what their father meant to them. It is also a film about deciding how to live; a film about my generation. The film composer wrote a beautiful song for the ending with the title “Bound to Be,” and it really says it all.
How it all began…
I began to write stories when I was a kid and got my first typewriter as a present for my 8th birthday. From then, I’ve never stopped writing. I wanted to write novels, but creative writing is nothing you can study in Austria. I happened to find out about a screenplay class at the Vienna Film Academy when I was twenty, passed the qualifying examination, and suddenly I was a film student. Writing screenplays was something completely new and very demanding for me in the beginning. It’s actually still the most demanding part for me. When I saw “The Ice Storm” by Ang Lee, I suddenly realized that I also wanted to direct. It was really the key moment. It’s still one of my favorite films and has been an inspiration for years.
Being a part of something has always been important to me. That’s maybe one reason why I love shooting, working on something with a team. I wanted to make a film about a group of people who don’t really want to be together, but something keeps them together, and if they like it or not, there is something connecting them – and there always will be.
Writing the screenplay was a long journey, and although I was accompanied by two great dramatic advisers, I felt alone many times. Sometimes I thought I would never finish the screenplay – and never make the film. I always wanted to be productive in the mornings, but ended up writing and deleting all day, drinking too much coffee and checking e-mails every twenty minutes and stuff like that; I wrote the best scenes and dialogues at 4:00 a.m. with a deadline in the morning, always in panic. When it was finally done, everything else felt easy. Of course I didn’t sleep much in 2010, but I loved every moment of rehearsing, shooting, editing.
Response thus far…
The surprising and beautiful thing is that so many people came to me after festival screenings or e-mailed me after they saw the film and they were all really emotional. Women, men, people from age 20 to 75, from different countries, all found something in the film that touched them personally; different aspects, different characters. I hadn’t expected that and I must say that it makes me proud. I am really excited to present the film in the United States, but after my experiences at other festivals, I don’t expect one kind of reaction, one “American” way to see it. I think if you don’t know Austria you’ll probably like the landscape. And I think my cast is quite attractive!
Check out the film’s site here.
And the music video for the film’s song “Bound to Be” here.
Check out these prior participants in the Los Angles Film Festival, courtesy of SnagFilms [Disclaimer: SnagFilms is indiewire’s parent company]
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