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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Feb. 9, 2009 | 7:02 PM
Thoughts





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An interview with filmmaker Reto Caffi ON THE LINE (Auf der Strecke)

How did you first become interested in film?


As far as I can think back, I loved to watch movies, starting off with Disney films in my childhood. At the age of 12, I re-shot my own version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, ending up falling into a freezing cold river in February. My first “real” attempt of making a proper short film was a decade later, when studying English literature at the University of Fribourg, but I never went to film school.  Instead, I completed my studies and somehow ended up in journalism working as a film-critic. After several years of endlessly covering films and interviewing directors, I felt more and more that I had ended up on the “wrong” side.  I decided to apply for a post-graduate program at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. AUF DER STRECKE (ON THE LINE) is my thesis film.


What films influence or inspire you creatively?


All great movies are inspiring. I am particularly fond of smaller scale, personal films - close-to life stories that create their magic with believable characters and essential human conflicts (like, for example, the films of Alexander Payne and Mike Leigh, or - on a more dramatic scale - the Dardenne brothers or Krzysztof Kieslowski).  That being said, I must say though that much more than in the films, I find inspiration in real life.

What inspired the idea for your short film?


I wrote it with a friend and we thought it would be interesting to have a guy who could not be with the woman he loves because of guilt. We liked this classical Greek tragic concept of being so close and yet so far.

We then asked ourselves what he could have done to make this issue of guilt more interesting. For example we didn’t want him to accidentally run over her husband and drive off - something where he would clearly feel very guilty. We were looking for something in a gray area where viewers would ask themselves “what would I have done?”  So we came up with the whole youth violence and public violence issue and the question of civil courage - you can address viewers directly and they will be immediately drawn in to the story. There’s this event that is very close to our daily experience: every day you read something about fights in public spaces. And then there’s the whole issue of video cameras and monitoring. It’s a timeless story wrapped in a very topical coat, so to speak.


How did you get the funding?


As a Swiss studying at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, Germany, I was in the very fortunate position of being able to apply for funding in both countries. The film was funded by the Filmstiftung NRW, by the Film foundations of Bern and Z?rich, by Migros and the Film Bureau Bremen. And Blush Films Zurich Swiss Television SF TV came on board as a co-producer.


How long did it take to get made?


Almost two years. Most of this time we invested in developing the script, about eight months. The shoot itself took 11 days. As a student without a lot of money, you have to wait often until the people you want to work for you (they all worked for free) find a slot. Therefore, there’s a lot of delay, mostly in post production. But all in all the production went very smoothly from beginning to end.


How have you gone about getting the film seen by others?


I just sent it to festivals, beginning with a big one, of course (Clermont-Ferrand). When the film won the “Grand Prix” there, it went all by itself, I was literally drowned in requests from other festivals. Now, a full year later, the film has been screened at over a hundred festivals, collecting more than 50 awards.


What are your goals and upcoming projects for the future?


The last year has been very busy with the distribution and promotion of AUF DER STRECKE (ON THE LINE). This is why my co-author Philippe Zweifel and I have only just now begun to develop a new project. It’s gonna be a feature, but it’s too early to reveal too much about it, really. Also, we are very slow writers. My biggest fear is that it’ll take us years until this is gonna be good and get into financing.

Therefore, I am also very interested in reading good scripts that are already well developed. As mentioned before, I am particularly looking for warm, tragicomic close-to-life stories. Another genre I am fond of is the psychological thriller, no “whodunits”, but dramatic stories about obsession and human weakness like Patricia Highsmith used to write them. 


Click HERE to see clips and to preview other films by Retro Caffi.

 


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