Assaf Gruber, adept at eliciting or inventing these tales and discerning their most secret connections and matrices. Daphne and Thomas unfurl as a diptych in which echoes reverberate from one part to another.
Hello Assaf, many thanks for talking to TNC, how are you doing?
Are you looking forward to be bringing Daphne and Thomas to FID 2019?
Daphne and Thomas is in the First Film Competition and is also your World Premiere & does this add any extra pressure on you?
I’m excited that it is premiering in FID, in the HISTOIRE(S) DE PORTRAIT section.
It is a beautiful context for this diptych to be shared with the audience for the first time. I’m more happy about this opportunity than stressed.
What has the experience been like making your first film?
This film started as an art project and "grew" to be a film. it has been fun and surprising.
Is there anything you know you won’t do next on your next film?
I might like to shoot in cheaper or older formats maybe DV or 16mm and not in 4K like we did or in the future or 8k. Trying to downscale the format.
I have the feeling that it will have an interesting impact on the content.
Will you have any nerves ahead of your screening?
We finished the color grading and the sound mixing only a few days before the festival.
I took the decision, to watch the film on the big screen only at the premiere together with the audience, to keep a bit of excitement and mystery also for myself and not to get too nervous.
Can you tell me a little bit about Daphne and Thomas, what can we expect?
The first part of the film is a fictional portrait of Thomas, the son of a protestant pastor who was unable to attend art school during the German Democratic Republic because of his religious background. Thomas’s actions are narrated by a voice-over of his daughter, Daphne whom we will meet in the second part of the film.
Daphne, who is a young taxidermist, finds herself locked inside one of the dioramas of The Museum of Natural History in Berlin. By chance, a British novelist who has come to Berlin to research the museum’s archive comes to Daphne’s rescue. During the encounter between Daphne and the novelist, the two women embark in a dialogue that culminates inside an Indonesian-style spa in Berlin’s city center. There, the colonial decor and naked bodies give rise to new significance to their previous encounter in the museum and Daphne’s life story connecting, obviously to her father’s life. The film is intentionally non-linear and through an interconnected web of narratives the stories of Thomas and his daughter, metamorphose through humidity and dryness, the rising and falling temperatures, reality and its artifice.
"If everybody feels synchronized and connected and do not afraid to offer ideas, this can happen."
What was the inspiration behind this film?
In Germany, I encountered many people who in the time of GDR were excluded from humanity studies due to their religious background. I did not encounter anyone who was not able to attend an art school and I decided to invent this character based on the many stories I heard.
I liked the idea that his daughter would be a Taxidermist, hence a sculptor who hates art…
What was the most challenging part of bringing this film to life?
Filming inside the location of the Natural History Museum of Berlin.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yes since early childhood as a viewer. As an artist, only in the last years of my art studies.
It came, that many of my ideas were impossible to share in other mediums and film became to be dominant in my practice.
How important is the collaborative nature in filmmaking for you?
Very important! It allows improvising.
At least 20% of the film is combined from footage that came spontaneously on set. Scenes that emerged just because we continue to shoot after the original scene ended. If everybody feels synchronized and connected and do not afraid to offer ideas, this can happen.
However, ideally, these ideas are being offered with no words on set, just with "sign language".
What has been the most important lesson you’ve taken after making Daphne and Thomas?
It's a good sign if there are not so much talking on the set.
Now that you have your first film completed do you have any advice for any emerging filmmaker?
Whether amateur, emerging or professional. I advise making the film you want to make and not the film others tell you that you want to make.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
Some laughs and some reflections.