Kino! 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Asli Özge (All Of A Sudden)

interview-all-sudden

After the party in Karsten’s apartment, everybody leaves except Anna. Admiringly, Karsten approaches this mysterious woman. How could he have known that in a moment of weakness, his well-established life would spiral out of control and turn into a disaster? In this small provincial German town, disappointment soon fuels anger, justice hides behind hypocrisy, and evil gradually unfolds.

‘All of a Sudden’ confronts questions of guilt and justice and explores the pressure that society can impose on an individual. A young man’s entire existence is put at risk by a single decision.

Asli Özge was born in Istanbul and has also been living in Berlin since 2000. After directing several short films, a documentary and feature-length films, ‘All of a Sudden’ is her first German-language feature film.

Kino!2017 at New York City’s Sunshine Cinema will deliver once again quality German Films to American audiences, year after year. This year’s edition takes place in downtown NYC from March 31- April 6, 2017.  Anticipating the festival and ‘All Of A Sudden’s screening at the event, we spoke with Director Asli Özge about the challenges of filming in Germany and the lack of diversity in the industry, the theme style choices and actors preparation. ‘All Of A Sudden’ premiered at the 66th Berlinale Film Festival in the Panorama section and screens on the festival opening night, Friday, March 31 and Wednesday April 5, 2017 at the Landmark Theatres in New York.

Find more information & tickets to “All Of A Sudden” at Kino!2017  HERE

What made you decide to do this film in Germany?
The idea came from Turkey. I read an article in the Turkish newspaper about a woman who died in a man’s house, whom she didn’t know before. They met the night she died, most probably it was a one night stand. The next day it was all over the newspapers because she was famous. Everyone wrote that she was married and had a child, so she wanted to betray her husband and that she deserved to die because she was cheating. This made me so angry. I thought of doing something on this subject, but it would be a cliché to just center everything on this woman. That would be something expected there, to have this kind of a movie if you’re a Turkish woman.

I didn’t only want to talk about the moral issues, also the punishment and judgment in this society. How it is for me, not only as a woman but as a human being, what the pressure is of trying to be perfect, not making any mistakes and to always stay strong. I wanted to talk about all these issues, so that is why I carried the story to Germany. If I had told the story in Turkey, everybody would think that I’m going to answer what happened that night, because it wasn’t clear why she died and if this man was guilty or not. I’m not a detective and wanted to be disconnected from the story.

There aren’t many women filmmakers in Germany. How was it to film there?
The biggest problem was to be a Turkish filmmaker in Germany because there’s a big Turkish community living there and I don’t belong to them. I’m just a person that went there to study philosophy after my film studies in Turkey and then shoot the film. So there was a disconnection between me and the German-Turkish people.

It was difficult on set with the crew and to build their trust. My other two films, even though they were Turkish, were co-produced by Germany, so the people who funded my films knew and trusted me. For the people on set, I was a small woman, coming from Turkey, being in a very German film, talking about deep Germany. In my country, we worked 18 hours a day sometimes, but in Germany It was very strict, you have to obey everything. It was good at the same time because I had a clear plan but when I wanted to ask for something: “OK, let’s do it like this” they were trying to tell me “No, we don’t do it in Germany this way”. That was the most difficult part because there can be other ways to do films. It’s not about being German or Turkish, we can try different things too. If it’s planned to shoot here and suddenly there is a fog, of course, I wouldn’t shoot inside the house. I would turn my camera to the left and shoot the fog because I can’t plan a fog.

I also like spontaneous things on set, so it’s difficult either in Turkey or in Germany to work this way, you want to catch these extraordinary things that happen in nature.

The film had a very melancholic look and claustrophobic feel, which matches Karsten’s character, being in a small town, surrounded by the mountains. Can you talk about the cinematography?
I always work with the same cinematographer, Emre Erkmen. He studied in German film school, worked a lot in film projects, so he knew the country’s system better than me and he was very supportive. When something like what I mentioned earlier was said “..this is how we do it in Germany” he would reply “No, I know you can also do it this way”, it allowed me to have more freedom.

We looked at the script and thought we needed a place that is surrounded by mountains and you can transfer the claustrophobic feeling of not being able to go away easily because you don’t see the horizon. It was important to find a small town and transpose the feeling of loss because someone is dying and he loses everything. We decided to use the colors of autumn and film in autumn, eliminating blue from the color scheme (no jeans were allowed) to emphasize the melancholic feelings.

Were you trying to make a political statement with this story?
This film is also about power, what happens when you have the power. Karsten discovers how to get out of the incrimination, by following the way his father did. He didn’t appreciate the way his father was used to solving problems, but when he got stuck he understood how the system works.

In reality, the film is about the system. We are all part of it, build towards it and stand out when we know how to rule the system. I was inspired by a lot of politicians for the story. When something bad happens, suddenly they change the subject and manipulate it in the way they want. I wanted to bring that in the character of Karsten, how he gets away of the problem and what happens when he has the power. At the end, he can do whatever he wants and becomes very monstrous.

How did you prepare the actors?
I don’t give the script to all of the actors. I just give the scenes which the actors are involved in. Also, everybody has a different draft of the script, Let’s say Laura, Karsten’s girlfriend, she didn’t get the first part of the script, since she wasn’t there in the first scene. I could see in her eyes the question of what really happened that night, wondering if Karsten slept with the girl, or why didn’t he call the ambulance. All the doubt in her eyes adds something to the acting. I didn’t give the first scene to anyone and I could feel the question of what happened that night because no one knew. The scene that Laura got was slightly different than Karsten’s version, to have the opportunity for surprises between the actors. He didn’t know the questions that she was going to ask, If he did, he would have focused on what he was going to say. As an actor. if you are really hearing the other person, you can be more creative and believable. I wanted to see in the eyes of the actors that they listen to each other.

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— Interview conducted by Lia Fietz

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