German actress Barbara Sukowa, the big star of this years festival, spoke to the FEST journalists. Addressing the media representatives at the conference in MTS Dvorana, she said that, although it was her first time at FEST, this was not her first time in Belgrade.
‘I was in Belgrade back in 1963 as a child with my parents. I was only 13 years old’, she said. When asked if she had known back then that she had wanted to be an actress, she replied that acting had not been her childhood wish.
‘At that time, I could not even imagine that such a fun thing as acting could be someones vocation and profession, I considered it to be more of a leisure activity or a hobby’, she said in the conference hall of the 51st FEST. Sukowa emphasized that she had shot the film ‘Dalíland’, which she was presenting at FEST, two years before, and that she was currently working on a new film.
‘I am saddened by todays situation related to filming. Nowadays films are made in a completely different way than when I was first starting out. There is little time set aside for filming, as well as very little money, the budget is difficult to build out. But again, I play in a TV series whose budget is 40 million dollars, and I think how many smaller films could be made with those funds’, she said, adding that she really liked working with young directors, who, despite the difficult situation of finding a budget for films, tried very hard to transfer some of their convictions and passions to the film screen.
I have a very bad memory. After I do something, it just goes out of my head. Even in the theatre, a play we performed 70 times, when it is over, I forget my lines. But I believe that somewhere in my brain or body those things exist, remain somewhere deep within me. If you ask me about the content of a film, I often do not remember it, but I know the character I played, I remember how the character walks. And when it comes to Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt and all those women I played, I know their physical characteristics even when I do not remember the content of the film’, says the German actress.
According to her, working with the German director and playwright Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a ‘wonderful and very special’ experience.
‘I remember Fassbinders specific way of working, because no other director worked like that. A scene would be filmed only once. And that was it. All the actors were extremely focused when working with him’, she pointed out.
She recalled a situation from filming with Hanna Schygulla while they were working on the series ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’. ‘We were filming a scene where we are driving a car, the director was not present, and the camera was attached to the car. When we got back, he asked how it had gone. We said we were satisfied, and then he asked us if we wanted to repeat the shot, we were surprised, but we agreed.
Then he told us that we decided which shot would be the final one,' the actress stated. Speaking about the film ‘Dalíland’, she said that she liked to play historical figures, that it was a challenge for her when she had the task of portraying a real person.
‘You can do research, look at photos, read letters and newspaper articles, you have that starting point. Sometimes it is a little scary when you play a historical figure, but you have to find that character within yourself as well, in the end, it is you on the screen’, explained the German diva and added that people had hated Gala, but that her approach was to find something warm in her characters.
‘For other roles, however, you have to figure out the character all by yourself and find it all within you. Gala was hated by many, some biographers openly loathed her, it was the same case with Rosa Luxemburg, but I try to find voices that are different and make the person more humane, even when she is a “bitch” like Gala. Our film depicts Dalí and Galas marriage and their relationship at a time when he was at the height of his fame, and she insisted on him producing as much of his art as possible as a painter. Gala pressured him to work for commercial reasons, and Salvador Dalí would never have been so successful without Gala, I am sure of that’, she said.
The actress talked about working with Margarethe von Trotta, saying:
‘She wants to do another film with me and asks me what kind of role I want to play. I tell her:
“You are a director, film is a director's medium, you must have conviction and passion for a topic, you tell me what you want and I will play what you want”’, she pointed out and added:
‘Both when working on the characters of Hannah Arendt and Rosa Luxemburg we were very scared whether we would do it truthfully, whether we would be up to par. These are personalities bigger than us. Hannah is an intellectual giant, and I am just an actress. But Margarethe is brave enough to go for it. She was an actress herself, so she knows what she is looking for’, she said.
Asked where she saw independent women today, she said that now the advantage was that you could be what was called a strong woman - a business woman, an independent woman, and you could also be a woman who would say: I want children, I want to be at home.
‘When I was young, my generation tried to reject makeup, to push feminism forward. We fought against the sexualization of women in the media. Today, when I see young women, they are all dressed up, in high heels, yet independent. I think it is great that today a woman can be what she wants, at least in the Western world, if not in all parts of the world’, she said.
Asked about the interesting musical career she has achieved alongside her film career, the film diva explained that she performed two types of music: classical and pop. ‘In the world of classical music, I have sung with the Vienna, Berlin and New York Philharmonic. However, a certain Schoenberg melody, for example, was a challenge for me. It is sung by opera singers, it is very complex and difficult. It is satisfying, but it takes a long time to master it, and you only get to perform it once or twice. That is why I do not do it that often. I also sing with a band and what we perform is pure pop’, she said.
The actress had a special request for local journalists. She wants to find two childhood friends
from the former Yugoslavia.
When she visited Ohrid with her parents in 1963, she met two girls, Zorica and Biljana. The day before she left, an earthquake happened in Skopje. She collected aid for Skopje with her friends at school, and Zorica and Biljana sent her a tray with coffee cups as a sign of gratitude.
‘I kept that gift for a long time and took it everywhere with me. They are now like me, in their mid-seventies. I would love to see them again! Since I am not on social media, maybe you could help me find them’, she told the reporters and showed a photo from that time.
‘Dalíland’ is screened in the Main Competition Programme of FEST, and after last nights premiere, the film will be shown again on the 27th and 28th of February in MTS Hall.