In a span of 10 years, this 39-year-old German director has made as many films, many of them critically acclaimed. Christian Schwochow’s work is now being showcased in Delhi as a retrospective at the Habitat Film Festival. Six of his films — Paula, Cracks in the Shell, The Tower, West, Bornholmer Strasse and In the Middle of Germany: NSU — will be screened during the 10-day event.
Excerpts from an email interview:
In a short span, you already have a seminal body of work. Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
As a teenager, I spent my time with writing, acting, painting, photography and music — and I could not decide what to choose as a profession. When I was 18, one day I realised that filmmaking would be a combination of all the things I loved. Working as a television reporter was a great step before going to film school. It taught me how to do intense research and make quick decisions.
You grew up in the GDR, or East Germany, and then escaped to West Germany with your family. How has that experience shaped your filmmaking?
It shaped me as a person as this part of my biography is very important to me. My films like Novemberchild or West, would not have been made without this experience.
You work with your mother; she writes for you. How did that collaboration come about?
It’s great to have a working partner like my mom. We share views, opinions and the same sense of humour. There are no vanities between us, which makes working together so special. My mother taught me to be a curious person. Sometimes, the work became too much, so rest of the family would easily get a bit frustrated, but we got much better.
Your body of work includes a spy thriller, a biopic of German painter Paula Modersohn Becker, and the struggles of a writer. How do you describe your filmography.
Every film needs a core, that is something which really matters to me, and it must be challenging. I try to reinvent myself with every new film. I am interested in characters who try to find their identity in a world of enemies, and strong female leads.
What are you working on next?
I am filming The German Lesson, one of the most famous German novels by Sigfried Lenz, I am adapting it for the big screen. The script has been written by my mother.