Kino! 2015 Interview:  Christoph Hochhäusler (Director- “The Lies Of The Victors”)

The_Lies_of_Victors-PosterInvestigative journalist Fabian Groys enjoys great freedom since the stories he uncovers make for strong sales. He works for a political news magazine in their Berlin head office. In this context, his arrogance raises few eyebrows. In this political thriller

In this political thriller The Lies of the Victors“, two investigative journalists try to unravel a conspiracy at the heart of Germany’s military-industrial complex.

The Lies Of The Victors‘ (Die Lügen Der Sieger”) screened as part of Kino! 2015, where the year’s best German films come to New York City for a week of quality cinema. We spoke with the film’s Director Christoph Hochhäusler about the press role in today’s day and age, casting process, its approach to the growth of corporations/lobby’s, and more.  In case you missed the film in New York, it will also screen in select theaters in June 2015.

Find more information on ‘Lies Of The Victors’ at Kino!2015HERE

What inspired you to tell this story?
I wanted to do a film about journalism for a long time. First of all, it is in a big transition now, journalism changes a lot. The questions what journalism would need and why do we need it, is very urgent at the moment. There is so much downsizing at the moment, closing down of established media and there is not a new business model for journalism at the moment. Print was backed up for a long time, meaning through sales and advertising and that’s gone. Advertising you can get with online magazines. It is a flagrant question, so to speak. What I like about journalism in film or the journalist as a character is that it is a different kind of a detective, that can explore themes in a way that a normal character can’t. He has this obligation to research. The research movement is a useful tool to cut through society for example. Using this research tool you can connect things that I thought were interesting, this contemporary political issues needs to be told, and this could be a form to tell them. There are a lot of incidents in a way that inspired me to do the film.

The_Lies_of_Victors_2Is the film based on a true story?
It is based on many true events. It is a mix up. It’s fiction, nothing happened exactly the way we show it.

How was the casting process? The lead, Florian David Fitz is a known actor in Germany that happens to be also the lead in “Tour De Force” playing at Kino!2015.
I think it is always difficult to find the right cast. Usually, I do see a lot of actors and do several castings. I would never have dreamed to hire Florian because he is on the other side of film making in Germany. He came to the casting and he is a very talented actor. For this kind of film that follows in some way the American model, the dashing young talent only to be deconstructed in the end, in a way.

For this kind of film, an actor with a Star persona could be useful so I was surprised by his talent and I never regretted my choice. It was a really nice collaboration.

The girl Lilith Stangenberg is from the opposite camp, she is a stage actress, with no professional training. She has been working on the most prestigious stage in Germany Volksbühne and there was quit an antagonism between the two, both in terms of what’s in the page and in real life, because they are so different. My feeling was it would be interesting to combine not to be the perfect match but to have an awkward relation. That only heats up for a moment because they are working together, but would cool off soon after.

Was there a particular reason the protagonist being a gambler?
I found it to be a good mirror of what is happening in the rest of the film. It’s also the classic weakness. Anybody has a weakness you can exploit. In the original script, the gambling played a bigger part. The ending was neatly tied to it. In the editing process me and my editor had the feeling that it was closing the film too neatly, so we took it off.

DLDS_Florian+David+Fitz_2How was the reaction to the film?

I am curious myself, in Germany the release date will be in June. As far as I know of reactions, they are all over the place, haters and lovers. It is very unpredictable with this subject. In a way surprising for me because I thought it is the most accessible of my films…

Any future projects?
Of course (laughs). I have a lot of them they are not all lined up and I am jumping from one to the other but that is the usual, developing and financing takes a long time. What might be my next film is a french project I want to shoot this fall. It is a historical drama setting, in 1941, in occupied France.

– Interview conducted, edited & transcribed by Lia Fietz

Facebook: /Die Lügen der Sieger – The Lies of the Victors


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