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Berlin and Beyond Outtakes – “Perfect Site”

In a conversation with the director Sören Voigt, actor-singer Michi Fanselow, and composer Rainer Kirchmann, filmcritic.com talked with the filmmakers about the creation of Voigt’s first feature film, Perfect Site from the Berlin and Beyond 2001 film festival.

First of all, the man who is supposed to be real Michi Fanselow, playing himself in the film, introduces himself as Stefan. What’s up there?

We invented Michi Fanselow. It was a tenth year anniversary since unification of Eastern and Western Germany (GDR and FRG) when we started shooting the film. For many people, the blending of two German cultures has been so powerful that many people lost track of the historical truth of the past. And when we were talking about Michi Fanselow as a famous music pop star from Eastern Germany, many believed us that he was, in fact, a real music star at that time.

The psychological effect of your film has certain echo with the work of a great British director Mike Leigh, who also treats his grotesque and eccentric character with great degree of sympathy and humanity.

Thank you so much; it’s a great compliment because I am very fond of Mike Leigh and his filmmaking. As many independent film directors, I don’t like to spend a lot of time trying out and selecting actors I don’t know or hiring relatively famous ones because they would have already certain image attached to them. I worked mostly with people who were either my relatives or friends, or people who started acting late in their career paths and were virtually unknown.

Your film examines a particular social milieu and underlines the tension that still exists between Eastern and Western Germans. Can you comment on this?

Absolutely. I like strong situations and am very much interested in the conflict between two different cultures. And even though these cultures have been brought together to mutual coexistence, and it has been great, in my film I am interested in showing this tension because it exists. And also because I see how people tend to forget, so the film plays metaphorically with certain things — the historical significance of which has been lost in the transition from two separate countries to one. I am very much interested in social changes and changes in class structure that took place since unification. Before we had a very large middle class, very little poverty and wealth, when I was collecting material for my film visiting campsites situated on the former border of Eastern and Western Germany, I found one very similar to the one portrayed in the film. I saw people living in poor conditions — impossible situation ten years ago.

Music plays a big part in your film.

Well, first of all, there is music of Michi Fanselow. I asked Rainer to write music people of that generation, late Seventies, the generation of Michi Fanselow, would identify with. That was an Eastern German pop music. Then there is music theme that belongs to Anita and Pit Sun, the Vietnamese immigrant now living in Germany. By the end of the film, when emotions run high, the clash between eccentric characters in the film generates into a new musical theme, a reggae-like music.

What are your plans for the future?

I am planning to make a film about female friendship and loyalty… the end is tragic though. I want to make this fiction film very independent — and very cheap, using digital video production.

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