Filmmaking as the “natural condition of the soul” at the NY Film Festival

The most praiseworthy emerging talents from around the globe gathered in NYC this week to display their new works. Desquval conducted exclusive interviews with the festival’s two main slate directors: Benjamin Heisenberg from Germany and Aleksey Fedorchenko from Russia.

Author: Ksenia Galouchko

Slated for the main part of the New York Film Festival, Benjamin Heisenberg’s “Robber” and Aleksey Fedorchenko’s “Silent Souls” couldn’t be more different. “Robber” is an action film based on a true story of a professional Austrian marathon runner who robbed banks and ran off from the police until he couldn’t bear such life any longer. Fedorchenko’s “Silent Souls” follows a mythical journey of a widower driving his dead beloved to a ritual burning in suburban Russia. But despite apparent cultural and style differences of the two films, both tell a love story that crosses international borders.

“The film is full of mythology and symbols, but the love triangle between men and women is eternal and familiar to everyone,” says Fedorchenko. “Although the triangle is more like a circle here, it’s very gentle, it should be very clear to the world audience.”

Aleksey Fedorchenko

Heisenberg, whose movie was inspired by Hollywood action films, is equally confident that the U.S. audience will understand the “Robber.”  “It’s a touching and emotional story behind his constant running, behind the feelings of a person driven by insanity who at the same time yearns for a normal human relationship, while knowing that he’ll never be normal,” says Heisenberg.

The robber, played by Andreas Lust, is in a complex, yet loving relationship with his girlfriend Erika, who leads a normal life but sacrifices it to be with him, says Franziska Weisz, who plays Erika’s part.

“It’s not a common kind of relationship, both of them are strong characters, have their own lives. He wouldn’t be able to live with a woman who follows him. It’s this happy freedom, ability to let go of each other that keeps them together,” says Weisz.

Franziska Weisz

“This woman is very mature, she’s built up a life, but she has her needs and is vulnerable in that respect. She has the courage to go with this strange guy and to think he’ll be the one she can find the emotion she is looking for with,” says Heisenberg. “And to me this is very touching because she manages to find something in this guy and they have a relationship together.”

For both Heisenberg, 36, and Fedorchenko, 44, filmmaking is a new enterprise. Having gained international recognition with their first feature films in 2005, they are enjoying their second movies’ victorious parade through European—and now U.S.—festivals.

Benjamin Heisenberg

Raised in the German countryside near Frankfurt, Heisenberg studied fine arts and sculpture at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts for six years before realizing that filmmaking was his true passion. Fedorchenko, who had worked as an economist at a Sverdlovsk movie studio in the Ural mountains for eight years, at 32 decided to enroll in a scriptwriting course at the State Institute of Culture in Moscow.

“I was 35 years old when I made my first movie. Once in 12 years my body transforms itself completely. I used to be a very good economist, but then everything disappeared and now I can’t imagine doing anything else but film,” says Fedorchenko.

Franziska Weisz, Benjamin Heisenberg and Michael Kitzberger

Heisenberg and Fedorchenko say that securing funding remains a major challenge for emerging movie directors in this economy. But the biggest challenge, they claim, is staying true to one’s taste and style, even if the market says otherwise.

“My advice is that you have to follow your own dream and do what you believe in. It will lead to something, because people will feel that you have emotions that you’ll be able to bring out in the film,” says Heisenberg. “It’s a matter of intensity and faith, not how large your budget is.”

Fedorchenko says that if someone was pushing him to make films, he would no longer be a director. “This has to be a natural condition of the soul. One should film what they like. With some scripts that I don’t like, when I read them, I feel like an electrician reading a manual and thinking: What is casting, what is a scene,” says Fedorchenko.

“I am sure that one should make films for oneself, not for others, not for the audience. Because if you try adjusting your film to a general audience, this means you disrespect your audience, you think you are smarter than them,” he added.

Aleksey Fedorchenko


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