This film tells the story of an adolescent boy called Perro who lives with his grandmother deep in the Nicaraguan jungle. Although time seems to stand still in this idyllic and secluded place, the native community is confronted with constant change. Since the government announced a plan to build a huge canal in the region, their homeland is threatened and Perro’s future uncertain.
While his grandmother hopes for the help of god, Perro is forced to find his own path. Accompanied by his beloved piggy, Perro embarks on a journey into an unknown world.
Hey Julia , it's great to talk with you, how have things going?
Hello, thanks I’m fine and very happy to finally see our film on the big screen.
Congratulations on Perro on being selected for the Generation Kplus at the Berlinale, what does it mean to you to have this film at the festival?
Thank you! I’m still super stoked that Perro will be screened at Berlinale Generation Kplus. We had to fight a lot to make that film possible and so I’m even more excited that Berlinale chose our film for the Generation Category. Also Berlin is the birthplace and hometown of Lin and I also grew up near Berlin. That makes it feel a little bit like bringing the film home.
This will also be your World Premiere, does that add any additional pressure on you?
Every premiere is very exciting and every audience is different. I’m especially looking forward to show the film to the younger generation and to hear their opinion on the film.
Do you ever get nervous about watching a film with a festival audience?
Always! You are right next to the people and can feel and hear if the film you worked so hard for really works with the audience. It is unfiltered feedback. Straight forward. Sometimes I turn around and watch the peoples faces to see their impressions on some scenes I’m really proud or afraid or even ashamed of. :-D Sometimes the audience sees so many different things in the scenes, that it surprises me, when they laugh or keep quite.
"Sometimes we find the story and the way it is told together - like in the case of Perro."
You are no stranger to the Berlinale having previously been part of Berlin Talents, what was this experience like for you?
It was a great experience! There were so many talented people and it was amazing to get in touch with so many different artist and filmmakers from all over the place! I’d recommend the Talents every young filmmaker!
Can you tell me a little bit about Perro, how did you get involved in this project?
Perro is a project we worked with our full hearts for. The first time we went to Bangkukuk (an indigenous community in the jungle of Nicaragua) we fell in love with that place and it´s people. They welcomed us so lovely and we felt home right away.
I shot every single film Lin made so far. When she told me she wanted to go on a no budget research trip to Nicaragua (where she had been a couple months before already by herself) I didn’t hesitate and joined her together with Jo, our Soundengineer. When Lin was in Nicaragua by herself she didn’t have the opportunity to go to Bangkukuk so it was even more exciting, when the three of us went there for the first time. We spent about 4-5 Months in Nicaragua (on and of) and experienced many exciting, beautiful, frustrating, amazing and dangerous situations while shooting Perro.
As a DP how important is the collaboration between you and your director?
Very important! I really need to know what the director wants to tell and how he or she wants to tell the story. Sometimes we find the story and the way it is told together - like in the case of Perro. I need to know what the director likes and what he or she doesn’t like cause especially in documentary there is no chance to communicate within a scene and also zero chance to repeat the situation and get the same essence. If I don’t know what the director needs I can’t do my job the way I want it to do. Collaboration in documentary means to know the director and his/her vision till the bone and add my personal taste, ideas and way of visual language to tell the story the best way possible.
What was the experience like working with Lin Sternal on Perro?
It is always a great experience working with Lin! She is the most open minded and ambitious person I know! We know each other for more than ten years now. We studied together, lived together and travelled together around the world. I`d say I know her very well.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
When I was a kid I either wanted to become an undercover drug enforcement agent or a tattoo artist.
I was playing bass in a death metal band when I was about 16 and started making music videos. That’s when my interest in filmmaking grew into a passion.
How did you get into cinematography?
My grandpa gave me his old GDR praktica photocamera when I was about 15 years old. I started making films with my friends when I was a little bit younger on high8 VideoCameras and after graduating school I knew I wanted to study cinematography. I worked in a cinema as a projectionist and as an intern with a cinematographer in Munich. After that I started studying cinematography in Ludwigsburg and Paris.
Has your style and approach to your work changed much since your debut film?
I always try to get with a fresh eye to a new project and I try to avoid to press any „style“ on a film. I think it is important to create something new every time you start a project. I like intuitive hand camera style when the situation allows it. I did that quite a lot in the past years but I would say that my approach is always to find a new way of telling the story the director has in mind and that speaks out of the protagonists/characters.
What has been the best advice you have been given?
"You don’t have to do anything!"
What filmmakers have inspired you?
Roger Deakins is one of the most inspiring characters in the film industry for me! Michael Ballhaus also left a big impression on me and I like Maren Ade`s films!
Do you have a favourite film you would recommend any aspiring filmmaker to watch?
I don't have one favourite film - I think there are tons of inspiring work out there. If you’re open minded, you can get your inspiration out of almost everything. "Workingmens Death" by Glawogger, „Moonlight" by Jenkins and the series „Chernobyl“ by Mazin and Renck and „When they see us“ by Ava DuVernay are a few amongst a lot more.
As a filmmaker what advice would you offer fellow director of photography?
I'd say you shouldn’t do what everyone else expects you to do. Just stick to the things that feel good and especially to the people you like working with!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Perro?
I hope people will tell me after the screening what they saw in the film and that they surprise me with things I haven’t seen in Perro so far. I think there is enough to discover in the film and I’m sure I haven’t discovered everything.