Altered States Competition
Interview with Martha Mechow, directora de «Losing Faith»
The performative has a visible weight in the film. Considering your experience in the theatrical field: how do you view the relationship between cinema and theater?
Both are media in which art can take place in the interpersonal, that’s what I like about them. Apart from that, I can’t think of anything better than to define the relationship between cinema and theater by their differences: I joined the Volksbühne am Rosaluxenburg Platz in Berlin when I was 15. At first I worked as an actress. But when I was 18, I also became a writer and director. Theater was a hard school and not always easy for me. It's extreme and the biggest loss of control I’ve ever experienced. What it releases is a monster. I can't put it any other way. What I like about it, but at the same time find hard to bear, is that the end product cannot be manipulated. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable on stage, is afraid or doesn’t like their lines, everyone will see that. You don’t even have to understand the play for that. So the conditions of work are always visible! This forces me as a director to constantly deal with my own practice in a very productive way. With film, the director has the final power of interpretation through the editing process. That’s why I use this medium more for personal concerns, as a kind of self-treatment. Basically, editing a film is like diy psychotherapy: you keep returning to the same images and try to construct a context, to create meaning.
Losing Faith is a very free film from a narrative and formalistic point of view -the script, the performances, the camera, the editing- and when watching it, a certain degree of improvisation is perceived. What was the filming process like and at what point do you think the film found its shape?
I am dyslexic and absolutely dependent on the spoken word. This is what led me to theater as a young girl. Today, my reading and writing difficulties limit me less. Still, not much has changed in the way I approach a text. For this work, for example, there was no script. Instead, we told each other the plot over and over again. So my original idea passed through each mouth several times. And since everyone felt the need to make it their own, it became ‘our’ film. So with a lot of imagination everyone involved left a semiotic: “I was here” in the narrative. By the way, many of the actresses have contacted us through posters that we have put up in the city. There wasn’t much on them, just: “looking for actors for a film about motherhood” and a mail address, that was it. Those who wrote us back had their own ideas about what the film should look like. But at the same time there was alway a trust in me, which encouraged me to take over the direction.
The film problematizes gender roles, but it does so in an unusual way, escaping (returning to the previous question) formal restrictions. What do you, as a director, think about this relationship between form and content?
Formally, I did not want to be a bureaucrat who makes everything fit within predefined structures. My job as a director is not to make regulations. Nobody has to have the same opinion or a similar taste. The approaches may differ! I have always believed that the interest of all participants in the topics dealt with will be enough to hold everything together. The outcome of such a process is neither uniform nor commodified, and in some moments it sacrifices a certain cinematic perfection. This is then no compromise but out of the belief that the form should never be stronger than the content.