Magazine article Screen International

Dietrich Brüggemann, 'Heil'

Magazine article Screen International

Dietrich Brüggemann, 'Heil'

Article excerpt

German director Dietrich Brüggemann will come to the 2015 edition of Karlovy Vary with the manic farce/satire Heil.

Receiving its international premiere in the festival's International Competition, the film sees a group of Neo Nazis managing to kidnap an Afro-German author who is suffering amnesia after a blow to the head.

As he mindlessly parrots their fascist propaganda, they trot him out on TV much to the chagrin of the liberal intelligentsia. But action is soon called for and the group head for Poland to start an invasion and usher in a new age. Will anybody be able to stop debating round in circles to actually try and stop them?

This knockabout comedy represents a marked difference from the austere style that typified Brüggemann's previous film, the Silver Bear winning Stations of the Cross. Gloriously politically incorrect, with a streak of righteous anger, Heil will definitely provoke interesting reactions when screened domestically and abroad.

Screen caught up with Brüggemann to ask him about controversy, satire and a world gone mad

When did the idea of doing a satire / farce come to you?

It started three years ago. A scandal involving a Nazi trio surfaced in Germany, which had all the elements of a grotesque, so I figured: This is life imitating art, so let's update art.

Every time people do a satire about a controversial subject there's a distinct possibility that you'll have to defend yourself. Did you steel yourself for this or just think 'whatever will be will be'?

First I tried to gear up for controversy, then I changed my mind and now I think: "Whatever."

For me a large part of the energy of the film comes from anger: at ineffectual organisations, stupid ideology and everything else in between. Do you think that's true?

Yes! It is! The world has gone mad. Maybe it has always been that way. But I guess every time has its own ways of madness, and as filmmakers, we should deal with what we witness.

When you say the 'world has gone mad' is there a certain frustration there? There seems to be an idea of constantly going round in circles. One person will say another, another person will say something else and there'll never be a consensus reached and the only thing leftis to make fun of the ridiculousness of it all.

You took the words right out of my mouth. In the middle ages, Satan was a constant threat, people were horrified of him all the time, and saying one wrong word could conjure him. Mad, from our perspective. But I guess we still have something similar, some Satan, that shall not be named. And we have the internet.

Did your views change at all when creating and shooting the film? Or was it a simple form of catharsis, venting some of your ideas on screen?

The whole thing felt like creating a monster, but a cathartic monster indeed. It's like a demon that you blow up to huge proportions, then go ahead and kill it in public. Through the whole process of writing, however, I was more or less convinced that nobody would ever finance this in Germany, and I was doing it for my own solitary pleasure. Shooting, later on, was just a matter of racing through a deadly schedule of 30 days, with no time for second thoughts.

You said you were convinced no-one would fund the film. Was it a struggle to get the finance or were you surprised when people came on board? …

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