© Filmstill Grüße aus Fukushima

Interview with Doris Dörrie

“I prefer to speak of veracity rather than truth.”

With Doris Dörrie as patroness, LICHTER is looking forward to a very special figurehead of the German film in 2017. In a short interview, she provided us with some answers on the subject of truth, on film in general and, of course, on her own work.

Ms Dörrie, fitting our theme this year, you have often dealt in your work with questions of truth and lie in the arts. What is the significance of these themes in your films?

In principle, as a narrator one tries to convey veracity, truth. I am particularly interested in the veracity of the characters and the world in which they live. That is why, a long time ago – eighteen years to be exact – I have become accustomed to working in a documentary manner. That came with my movie „Erleuchtung garantiert“, which was shot with the first small digital camera. Due to the increasingly smaller technology, I was able to meet the requirements of the Cinéma Verité really well. In doing so, I realised what a great gift it is to be able to allow reality to intervene in fiction. This is actually quite the opposite from what films traditionally do: to stage reality. “Kirschblüten – Hanami“ and “Grüße aus Fukushima“ as well, play a lot with reality. I am hoping to arrive at a greater truth this way – because naturally, as a spectator you can sense that much is not contrived, but that you can trust the characters, because they come from a different reality. I try to get to the truth by allocating a lot of space to reality.
In addition, I am also shooting real documentaries – the last one was “Dieses schöne Scheißleben“ in Mexico. As a documentarist, I have a different task, of course: it means observing and not fictionalising – although one does that quite naturally in the editing suite when selecting film scenes.

As we are talking about documentaries: what truth do you think is in facts?

I find this truth debate very difficult – we all know that there is no one truth. I believe it always takes a real motivation to explore the truth. Film always manipulates. Also the documentary film. That is why I prefer to speak of “veracity” instead of “truth”. Facts, this is documentation, but we are talking about the documentary film. This distinction must be carefully considered, especially in times of discussions about alternative facts.

In addition to filming, you leacture at the Filmhochschule München. Do you feel that students are currently more concerned with questions about truth?

What I keep observing over and over is that the fear of the real world gets bigger. The willingness to venture out into the world, to form an opinion within the real world, decreases. One retreats into the digital space, which is, of course, never comparable with the individual exploration. That is why I keep urging my students to find and explore their own views on the world. But i order to do this you have to get out into this real world. This too is why I travelled to the disaster area for my last film “Grüße aus Fukushima.” I wanted to feel my own sensations in this place and not rely on the pictures from the media.

You shot the film in black and white. Why?

To evoke this already mentioned veracity. In contrast to the banality of colour, which we know from the everyday world, one can focus more on the root of the matter and its metaphor in black-and-white films. At the same time, it is also a tribute to the old masters of Japanese cinema.

The nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima has prompted German policy to opt out of nuclear power. How do the Japanese look at their nuclear policies?

Of course, the people in the region are now all against nuclear power. The rest of the population and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would prefer to forget the catastrophe. In Japan there are 56 nuclear power stations – a region with the highest incidences of earthquakes in the world. I wanted to shoot this film because due to the catastrophe a deep connection exists between Germany and Japan. Because of Fukushima, Germany has decided to opt out of nuclear power. In contrast, the search for alternative energy sources has not even started to take place in Japan.

In a new VR section, LICHTER presents 360-degree films this year. Do you see the cinema of the future in virtual reality?

I am basically open to technical developments. For fictional formats, virtual reality is fantastic but when you talk about truth, you should not forget that virtual reality films have a high creative potential and can manipulate the viewer particularly.

What is the best lie you have ever heard?

To become increasingly savvier and wiser with age.