If there exists anything more challenging than making a movie, it probably is making your first movie. For most emerging filmmakers, making their first movie at film school is not ‘that’ hard yet. After that, things become a lot more difficult. Obviously, finding producers is crucial for making movies but particularly tricky for young filmmakers.
This is where Berlinale Made in Germany – Perspektive Fellowship picks up the slack. Launched 2012 by Berlinale festival director Dieter Kosslick, the programme ‘Perspektive Deutsches Kino’ aims to integrate more German films into the Berlinale. For the 5th time in a row, the section gave talented German filmmakers the opportunity to present their work. Former participants, mostly of them film academy students, whose movies have been screened in the Perspektive the year before can submit a treatment. The most outstanding one will then be awarded with 15’000 Euro, funded by German watchmaker and Berlinale Co-Partner Glashütte Original. The fellowship not only supports the domestic filmmaking industry but also showcases artistic and thematic trends among next generation German filmmakers. This year’s winner is Munich based director Janna Ji Wonders.
Wonders convinced with an autobiographical work titled ‘Walchsensee Forever’ in which she takes a close and loving look at the story of her own family. ‘To me, the movie is like a search for my own identity’, says Wonders about her movie. Similar to her first movie ‘I Remember’ which has been screened at last years’ Berlinale, ‘Walchsensee Forever’ is a portrait about several generations of woman and their specific connection to their homeland, the Walchensee.
‘I Remember’ by Janna Ji Wonders which has been screened at Berlinale 2015.
‘Already in my very first short film ‘Waiting for summer’ I portrayed my grandmother. It was only a matter of time before I will make a feature film about my family’, says Wonders. Thirteen years have passed until the project becomes realized. Today, her grandmother is aged 104.
In ‘Walchensee Forever’, Wonders tells the story of her grandmother, her mother and herself. While her grandmother spent her whole life at the alpine lake and missed the chance to follow her dreams by helping out her parents at the coffehouse, Wonders’ mother has been living the hippie way of life and headed out to the United States, Mexico and India in the Seventies. Nevertheless, she always returned to her homeland, the Walchensee. Wonders who was born in San Francisco and raised in southern Germany also addresses her own relationship to that place. ‘I have a strong affiliation and connection to the Walchensee but feel a great inner conflict through my American roots’, tells Wonders about herself.
While one month has passed since the Berlinale award night, the pre-production already began. Together with her co-author, Wonders is just about to give the movie a more defined structure and dramaturgy. Simultaneously, the young director is putting together a crew. To her, ‘a small team is important to get a sense of intimacy and closeness during the filming.’ Obviously, Wonders has to work with a certain sense of urgency because of her grandmothers’ age. Her plan is to have completed ‘Walchensee Forever’ by the end of 2017.
The ‘Berlinale Made in Germany – Perspektive Fellowship’ is one example amongst a few where domestic emerging filmmaking talents become great support. To Wonders, the award not only helps to develop the project but also has a crucial effect on the nergy to really get down to work.