Talking Stone Film

Film Reviews & Headlines

Everyone knows New York City is not
deserted. So why is it deserted? Or is this kind of my internal projection onto
the city? Hi, I’m Holly Zausner. I’m an artist who
makes films. I live in Berlin and New York for many years. Holly it’s so great to see
you here in Frankfurt! Now you are showing your recent film “Unsettled Matter.” It’s about New York or Manhattan we must say. The whole film starts with a stunt
where I’m in my studio and I am, you know, working in this harness which of course is not the way I work in my studio, connected by wires, right.
And it is something real that I’m working on, it was actually a very large collage
that I was working on. and in the end – ah – the wires break and I fall. And you do not know whether I’ve been hurt and I’m unconscious or I’m dead. And then we move
into the deserted city. And then I became also this kind of Film noir person in a
trench coat with glasses, dark glasses. So, yeah it creates a kind of mystery and
we’re kind of also back in some sort of Hollywood cinematic moment but it’s no linear, no language, no dialogue. Yeah, just these short scenes of
these deserted iconic places that have some content. The most impressive I think
is at the Broadway. You are alone, a black figure in the middle of the Broadway,
it looks impossible. Normally, we know the Broadway, it’s full of cars
and people running around very busy and we never walk in the middle of the
street, never. I always believe in doing the most difficult scene the first day which always people tell me is a huge mistake. You have a new team you have to
figure out. But I always think it actually pulls everyone together by actually doing the most difficult. So that was an enormously difficult scene.
All the stores were open, hundreds of people were on the street.
And although… how I created it was… I contacted the television and
film division and explained to them the film and explained that it was an art film and they gave me free police to close the streets on and off for four hours. They had 40 kids with walkie-talkies stopping people from walking into the scene. After four hours only one take worked. – Wow! There were
always people and cars that escaped us. So, but in the end I wanted it full
sunlight, middle of the day. Everyone knows New York City is not
deserted. So why is it deserted? Did something go wrong in the city? Or is this kind of my internal projection onto the city? Why did you choose Hatshepsut
at the Metropolitan Museum? Yeah, you know for me it was very difficult to
figure out where in the Met I wanted to film because every place is so great in
the Met. They don’t have one bad room in the Met. But the Egyptian wing has
always been important for me since I was a young artist and I like to work with
sculpture and so Hatshepsut was the most important Pharaoh and she was a
woman dressed up as a man. It was the height of Egyptian society. So that’s
interesting as we kind of struggle to have women in power as we watched in
their last election. I looked at your films, I saw in every detail a kind of
symbol. It is a developing artwork. -Yes. -Every good work is a developing or
open artwork. Yes of course, every scene does have specific content. Like in Film Forum,
I very much was interested in filming “L’Avventura.” I knew it was coming up in
six months at Film Forum. -“L’Avventura”, Antonioni!
-Antonioni! And also, you know initially, of
course I know the film inside and out, I own the DVD, I’ve watched it for a
million times and initially I wanted… I thought I wanted a specific
scene. And when they first showed it to me… yeah, I changed the scene that I wanted, right then and there. I believe in actually a
certain kind of finding magic moments. And the magic moment at that time when I was
sitting in the theater was this one of the final scenes when you just see
Monica Vitti crying. That’s it. She’s alone, the face is large, she’s in tears,
her whole life has changed. It’s the complete idea of contemporary alienation
and how one has to deal with, you know our contemporary lives which are really
so unstable and you have to be open to change. So every scene has content for me. You are very much into film history. You always talk about films when we meet
and you always… Yeah that’s like you know… I didn’t study film. I studied sculpture
and painting and drawing and art history. But always from a very young age I was
very interested in cinema and I lived in Paris and used to go to the Cinematheque. And when I was in New York I would always go to the cinema there. And of course, when I came to Germany I had already been involved with the German history of filmmaking. So I was completely obsessed about Fassbender,
Wenders, you know all of… you know even “Menschen am Sonntag”, the very
early 1923 silent films. So my films were also silent. I’m interested in silent films. But not completely silent. No, there is ambient sound that I create
artificially in a sound studio. But I like it that the films
actually tell a story through visual imagery. You know one of my last, the second,
the film before this one is called “Unseen.” And I named it “Unseen”, because a
lot of things that have meaning or not are on the surface they’re things that are
underneath. So… But you worked with a very professional cameraman from Hollywood. Yeah, yeah, I had a very good camera woman in Germany in Berlin, Jakobine Motz who
also was very good. And in New York I worked with a Hollywood New York cinematographer, Mott Hupfel [III] who worked with Mary Harron, who did “The Notorious Bettie Page”, he worked with Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is very generous. He looked at my films
from Berlin and offered to work with me for free on and off for a year to create
this film. And you know and he and I agreed about meaning, creating images that have content without having dialogue. So it’s very important that the
cinematographer is on the same path as I am. Especially since I play a role in the
film. There has to be some level also of trust. So, of course we do everything 40
times anyway, so yeah… Your films are how long normally? 10 minutes? Well, some are ten and a half minutes, some are 16 minutes, it just depends on the… on what I need to actually create this
nonlinear narrative. I don’t want them longer than 20 minutes, because actually usually they’re meant to be seen in museums and galleries, not so much in cinema. And also usually they’re on a loop, and so, it’s really… I think about like Alfred Hitchcock always thinks about his audience. I think about what is good for my audience in terms of looking at my films. And I think too long of a film I lose my audience and I don’t tell a better story.

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