The author of the record 12-hour opus from the program of the Berlinale about the film
Artist, photographer and filmmaker Ulrike Oettinger was born and raised in Konstanz, on lake Constance, he attended the lectures of Claude lévi-Strauss in Paris, studied creative techniques of Sergei Eisenstein and Bertolt Brecht, was friends and worked with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Schroeter. In Russia Oettinger in 2004 he directed the movie “12 chairs” — freestyle adaptation of the novel by Ilf and Petrov, which was shown in the section “Forum of young cinema” at the Berlin festival. This year in the “Panorama” programme, the festival presented a 12-hour film “Shadow Chamisso” on the journey to Kamchatka, Chukotka and Alaska, where Ulrike Oettinger went, inspired by the diaries of great geographers and naturalists of the past. The film has beautiful scenery, volcanoes, herders, fishermen, and even the whale hunt — but this is not the movie that can be seen on the National Geographic channel.
“Ribbon.ru”: How many hours of material you took during the journey?
Ulrike Oettinger: came to a Total of about 130 hours, including 20 hours of interviews, and recording a variety of sounds.
How long have you had to handle?
Add to this text: about 300 pages of notes of travelers of the past — Chamisso, von Humboldt and others, which I also used. My own notes: during the trip I tried to keep a diary, although I do not always have enough time for this. The fact is that simultaneously with the film I was working on the show — she is now in the Berlin state library. There are diary entries, drawings, letters of Humboldt, Chamisso and other travelers, brought with them the artifacts and see my film. But this is not the movie you saw in the hall. For the exhibition I took long, sometimes 20 minutes. There are all divided into four parts: landscapes, plants, animals, people. But the plan of the film I was ready, it was only necessary to first separate the movie and the exhibition, and then to collect the material. I held in a mounting 16 months working literally every day for 12-14 hours.
I guess the preparation for the trip also took a lot of time. All turned out as you planned?
The topic interested me for a very long time, even since the trip to Korea and Mongolia. And specific preparation took about three years. You know, you can plan a trip whenever you want, but surprises always happen: you are dependent on transport, the weather. Not many can afford such projects — everything can fail, or maybe to turn into something very unusual.
If your project were Russian sponsors?
No, we had only line producer from Russia. We worked with Julia Mishkinene and very happy with this cooperation.
Do you know Russian language or the languages of the peoples of the North?
I worked in Russia before and know enough to understand what was going on, but far be it from me to speak Russian. Of course, I worked with a translator. But you know, when you sit for editing table, hear all a thousand times, and it’s a great linguistic course. So I learned to understand and even find related words in Evensk and Evenk languages.
Still from the film “Shadow Chamisso”
You have a pretty big episode in the film, which shows how to score and cut up a deer carcass.
Of course, not good to kill living beings. Usually for us it is hidden, we see no carnage, just come to restaurant and eat meat. And here it is a vital necessity, everything happens naturally, all carefully processed, is used, the sacrifice. It’s not brutal, it is their way to get food. Even sensitive Chamisso, who also observed the process of dressing deer, admired the taste of meat.
You ate with the locals?
Yeah, we didn’t bring any food — we’ve had enough of Luggage.
As you have established contact with people, who were shot?
Just need to behave in a civilized manner. Do not tumble with the camera running, and build a relationship gradually. It’s not that hard. People feel that I am really interested with them. When I shoot, then look through the eyepiece, I can’t work as a modern master, looking at the monitor. This left my eyes open, that helps to establish contact. And always warn: if you need a break — give me a sign.
What camera did you use?
On this project I worked with a digital camera Sony. We had two sets. I use lenses with constant focal length, this allows us to get the desired quality.
The sound in your film, too, plays a big role.
We always used the original sound, because I was very important to convey the atmosphere. Something could not be done, but we recovered it later in the installation.
Still from the film “Shadow Chamisso”
This film, of course, you need to watch on the big screen. Plan to hire?
Yes, in Germany the film will be shown in the movie. It will be divided into three parts, and they will come out gradually, first the first — it will be March 24, then, after two weeks, the second part, and in four — three. And then will be able to arrange a special event where the film can be viewed as a whole, for example, in the House of world cultures in Berlin. And screenings will be accompanied by talks with the participation of critics and scholars — ethnologists and culturologists. We will discuss various aspects associated with this film.
At the Moscow film festival this year will feature a retrospective of your work where there will be shown and “Shadow Chamisso”.
Yes. I will be glad to present the film in Moscow.
But you’ll see whether its the people you filmed in the North?
In any case I will convey the DVD to the staff of local museums, which really helped me in my work and whom I am very grateful. I hope they will be able to organize demonstrations.