YIDFF 2007 Facing the Past—German Documentaries
Black Box Germany | The Kick
An Interview with Andres Veiel (Director)

The Film as a Treasure Box

Q: Let me ask you about Black Box Germany. Why did you make a film featuring two people from totally different backgrounds?

AV: They are similar in that they both suffered a tremendous impact from Germany’s history. Herrhausen graduated from a Nazi elite school, and Grams is a son of a member of the Nazi Schutzstaffel. I made the film in the belief that there would be things that would become visible by crossing the lives of these two, who had been at the mercy of the history of Germany. I also wanted to include how a terrorist organization came into the picture. I was curious why a young man like Grams had joined such an organization. I’m sure it was not an easy decision to make. Also, I wanted to let the world know that such a young man had a family too, that he was a human being. Denouncing the perpetrator as monster wouldn’t allow you to see what really is inside the social machinery gone awry.

Q: Do you think you were able to get closer to the truth by shooting the film?

AV: It was not my goal to find out the truth. I’m not interested in who killed Herrhausen or Grams. My purpose is to chase the history, society of Germany hidden behind truths. I conducted research for about three and a half years in preparation for the film, and the process of learning what was in the history’s background was important to me.

Q: Let me ask you about The Kick. Why did you make it an experimental film with actors?

AV: Because it was impossible to point the camera at the families of the victims. They loathed becoming prey to the mass media. I was not part of the mass media, but for them a camera was nothing other than that, and they were in no condition to accept it. I couldn’t take the straight path of interviewing them, but I think I managed to get close to the reality. I didn’t give the actors any information in advance, and told them not to imitate others.

Q: Did your experience in theater play any part in this film?

AV: Roughly in three ways. First of all, there was the selection. The research generated many pages, but I only used some of it. It was my responsibility to select what to use and what not to use. Secondly, there was the decision of order. What line should be said in what order, that sort of thing. Then there was the casting. I decided what lines the two actors were supposed to say. Then, there were some fine points of direction, such as raising and lowering of shoulders.

Q: I thought that these two films shared the attitude of going back to the events and the individuals.

AV: Exactly. Once something happens, a court trial takes place. Once the trial is over, people forget about the event. I hated the fact that every time a new event occurred, people eventually forgot it. In the sense that you can stop and go back to see the finer details, this film, though its title is Black Box, is indeed a treasure box.

(Compiled by Shimizu Kai)

Interviewers: Shimizu Kai, Mineo Kazunori / Interpreter: Takahashi Aiko / Translator: Ann Yamamoto
Photography: Kaneko Yuji / Video: Kaneko Yuji / 2007-10-08