For all important films by established author directors in the main competition of the Venice Film Festival 2023 (David Finchers). The killerYorgos Lanthimos’ Poor thingsSofia Coppelas Priscilla and Michael Manns Ferrarito name a few), when announcing the official cast on July 31, festival director Alberto Barbera praised a small film from Germany.
Barbera was so enthusiastic about Timm Kröger’s second feature film The theory of everything – a black-and-white Hitchcock melodrama set in a 5-star hotel in the Swiss Alps (and a “sort of” sequel to his 2014 debut). The Council of Birds) – that he claimed it was one of the very first films selected for this year’s Golden Bear competition.
“It was really wonderful what he said and he described the film really beautifully,” says Kröger in the introduction The theory of everything“But he also said that it’s up to ‘the audience’ to let the festival know if they made a mistake in choosing us.”
Whichever route audiences choose, for The Barricades, the German banner of Kröger and producer Viktoria Stolpe, it won’t be the first time they’ve sparked interest in their films, good or bad.
Already in 2020 the first feature of the company The problem with childbirthThe film, directed by Sandra Wollner, landed in the Berlinale’s Encounters series as “daring works” and proved so daring that it became arguably the most controversial film at the festival. Though the tale of a 10-year-old android girl and her “daddy” never ventured into anything X-rated on screen, its premise alone was enough to capture the frothy frenzy of Alex Jones’ infowars and alt-right imitators , who accused the film of promoting pedophilia (which it obviously didn’t) and compared Wollner to Epstein.
The online anger mob doesn’t bother to check the film’s European credentials, says Kröger The problem with childbirth has been drawn into various Hollywood conspiracy theories about lizard people and rapists. The Melbourne International Film Festival later pulled the film from its schedule (a move that drew harsh criticism from critics).
With all the noise The problem with childbirth — whom Wollner called her “antithesis of Pinocchio” and explored the idea of an android whose only desires are those with which it was programmed — was widely praised by those who actually saw it, the film winning the Encounters Special Prize and later won the Jury’s Best Feature Feature at the Romy Awards, Austria’s version of the Oscars (it was an Austrian co-production).
The noise – and the accolades – also made The Barricades famous and paved the way for The theory of everythingwhose pitching Kröger and Stolpe had already started in 2015.
“It’s never a bad thing – and it certainly helped publicize us,” claims Stolpe, who says that while they never anticipated the magnitude of the reaction, they definitely had intentions of bringing the company along to start something that could cause a stir. “It all just happened, but of course that’s what we want to do — we don’t want to do boring drama.”
The problem with childbirth And The theory of everything – a 1960s “quantum mechanical thriller” with a plot about multiverses, paranoia, love, mystery, dreams and false memories – may sound like very different films. But both Kröger and Stolpe claim there’s a strand of DNA running through their filmmaking, stemming from a friendship that began during film school and years of collaborating on multiple titles.
“I think all of our films are metaphysical,” says Kröger. “We joke that all of our films are about ghosts in some way. I think the reason why I personally make films is always to ask questions about the world that we can’t really answer, but something of an answer can be found in cinema… films that deal with existence. “
Both films are not what many would automatically expect from Germany. “Most German films are pure drama, boy-meet-girl films or social realism,” notes Stolpe. “But we’re on the other side of the spectrum with our films.”
Next up is The Barricades Soi Dogsabout to start shooting in Thailand and directed by The theory of everything And The problem with childbirth Co-author Roderick Warich, who alongside Wollner helps complete the company’s unofficial quartet. And then there’s Wollner’s next feature every timecurrently in development.
And why “The Barricades,” a name that conjures up images of anti-establishment street battles?
As Kröger explains, it actually comes from French Baroque composer François Couperin’s ‘Les Barricades Mysterieuses’, a piece of music that plays a strong role in both in Terrence Malicks’ work. tree of Life And The theory of everything and whose title has remained a mystery for several centuries.
“We don’t know if it’s quantum physics or lingerie – that’s an actual theory,” he says. “But that name just popped up because there’s a cultural history attached to it that obviously nobody understands.”
Stolpe adds, “We also thought it sounded cool.”