werner dütsch

tonight i'm thinking back of werner dütsch and his sharp statements during the vpro / shadowdoc masterclass about three years ago. some of the things he talked about articulated the hidden rules and structures of the films i make and enjoy. some things were fresh when i heard them and have now become part of my field guide. after talking to werner, for example, i'll never again have the nerve to call one of my films experimental...

"There are too many documentaries. And they are all so serious and so very important. I have become sceptical about this so called importance. There is more propaganda in documentaries than in feature films. But I think the audience of today sees so much, that they know what's going on. Maybe the time has come when cinema can't manipulate any longer".

"We don't have to show people [in a documentary] to tell something about them. Because of television we have come to think that there is no other way to identify with people then by hearing them talk. But recording an interview is the way of the lazy filmmaker: it leaves all the work to the audience."

"You can also show faces in a non-expressive way. Because of fiction films we think that faces must be full of meaning. This is especially true for the old German actors. They always have these specific targets in their faces. Even when you take a brief look at them, you can write down immediately what they are thinking. It can be torturing."

"In Vertov's movie [man with a movie camera] the individual shots are void of meaning. Only in the combination with other shots they are significant. With every cut the film is shouting: "I AM A MOVIE".

"Sync sound is just one of the options. But so often image and sound are treated like master and slave. Like the bourgoisie and the proletariat."

"Oh no, symbolic photography. It's childish. It's abusive."

"If you are in a place that you don't like. Force yourself to frame your pictures without prejudice."

"It is funny that some people try to make cinema with security cameras, because the very idea behind these camera's is the opposite of cinema: they are recording so that nothing will happen."

"It is part of our tragedy that we are more moved by a construction [i.e. fiction] then by reality. It must have to do with the fact that emotions in cinema are not so expensive. You are moved to tears by a divorce, but it's not as expensive."

"Everybody in the audience knows this place and what it sounds like. Why should we hear the sound, if we know it already? Don't double things."

"If you interview people, don't ask about their ideas. That gives them a chance to hide behind an idea of themselves. Ask about practical things (what are you doing? how long? what do you like about it? etc.).

"Experimental. I hate that word experimental. After an experiment is succesful, they never call it experimental. They call it succesful."