16th ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival

9th, 10th, 11th April 2021
Nora Jaenicke 
Non-European Dramatic Short 
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On a publicity tour for her best-selling memoir, a writer is forced to confront secrets from her past when an estranged childhood friend shows up unannounced.


Hi Nora congratulations on having The Reading selected for the 16th ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of films?


Thank you! I am  honoured to be a part of this Festival. I looked up the program and the films seem very interesting. I am excited to watch them. It's too bad that the festival is happening online only this year, but we will make the most of it.


Can you tell me a little bit about The Reading, how did this film come about? 


It all started with an idea I had 2 years ago. I was curious to explore the sense of exposure that comes with sharing semi-biographical work, especially when there are people in the audience who were involved in the events one chose to "fictionalise." As writers/filmmakers we do this a lot. We choose a personal event and turn it into fiction. So there is always this element of "exploitation" which can cause shame, if one is made aware of it. To me it's an unconscious/automatic process - this tendency to turn everything I experience into a story. I always look for the narrative in all experiences and deconstruct my life with the same tools I use when I deconstruct/construct my screenplays.


What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?


As mentioned above, it all started with the wish to explore this tension between fiction and truth. Initially I had written a different version of the script where the protagonists (Elsa & Jake/Jakoby) had a very different backstory, but the core context was the same. It was all going to take place in a small library and Jake was going to confront Elsa for exploiting a biographical event for the sake of "good fiction". It was during one of the screenwriting retreats that I run in Tuscany (Nostos Screenwriting Retreats) that I pitched the idea to a friend, and that's when we embarked into a rewrite of the original script.

What were the biggest challenges you faced brining this film to life?


As always, the biggest challenge was coming up with the funds to make the film, which, as always, ended up being more expensive than originally planned.


How best would you describe The Reading?


Initially it was going to be about the risks that an author encounters when he/she/they fictionalise biographical events and the responsibility that we have towards the people that were directly involved in the story we choose to tell. It then spiralled into a much broader/timely theme: How queerness is used by storytellers from the normative / straight world for personal gain.

"I hope  that it triggers a discussion around the responsibility that we all have as storytellers..."

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?


I always loved writing, so I would say that my first love is screenwriting. The passion for filmmaking evolved from my love for storytelling.


How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut film?


When I watch films, now I have a hard time not analysing them all from a technical perspective. For each shot I ask myself what equipment was used, how many crew members there were etc... I wish I could just shut it off and go back to a more "virginal" approach, but I think it's too late. 


Is there any worthwhile advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?


Be honest with your imagination... And take your time. The good work takes time. It's a hard lesson to learn in this age of instant gratification.

Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?


Well, yes. I think it's part of an artist's responsibility: To innovate and explore new forms/ways of telling stories or making art.


And finally, what do you hope people will take away from The Reading?


I hope that it triggers a discussion around the responsibility that we all have as storytellers, but most importantly, the one we have towards one another.

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