Interview: Ralf Huettner, director of Lost in Siberia
Unlike many people in the film business, Ralf Huettner is a self taught man of not very many words. Those he does speak he chooses carefully and economically. His film Lost in Siberia first arrived on German screens in 2012 and will be available on VoD on 5 September in Walk this Way’s Comedies à la Carte collection. It is “a comedy in which a simple man (Joachim Krol, critically acclaimed in Run Lola Run), a logistics boss, goes to Siberia, realizes life can be different and rediscovers his sense of humour”, explains the filmaker.
Huettner arrived behind the camera via an indirect route. He started out doing theatre. In 1980, while studying at Munich’s HFF film school, “I broke my leg very badly, doing seven takes of a jump. It was the end of my acting career, so I decided to write and direct instead.”
Huettner broke through in 1993 with Texas –Doc Snyder Hält Die Welt in Aten then in the following year with Voll Normaaal, both broad comedies with no other pretention than to entertain. “It got me noticed”.
As early as 1992, with Der Papagei Huettner showed he could handle serious political themes as well. This film, where an ordinary man blessed with the gift of the gab is hijacked by the right for their own purposes, used humour to underline its serious theme and demonstrated Huettner’s talent for juxtaposition. The film also marked one of the milestones in the career of legendary German entertainer Harald Juhnke. “I wrote the script for him and pushed for him to have the role. The broadcaster taking part wanted a ’serious’ actor, not him. They saw him simply as a drunken comedian, but he was so much more than that”, Huettner explains.
“It’s always good to have an actor in your head when writing”, continues Huettner, who in 2010 directed Vincent Wants to Sea, which was a hit in Germany where it was watched by more than a million people. Florian David Fitz plays a young man with Tourette’s Syndrome who heads off on a road trip to the sea with his friends and his mother’s ashes. “I want to see truth. I need empathy with the character. The audience has to love and understand them, laugh with them and not at them”.
“When you’re making a comedy the small people are the ones with more comedic possibilities in them: they have goals, bad things can happen to them, too.” “I recently saw the French film The Intouchables. It’s wonderful, great, intelligent,” Huettner says. “The American series Breaking Bad is another example of great entertainment. Nobody would dare suggest a story like that in Germany! “
Huettner is clear about his intentions: “I want to entertain people. That aspect is often downplayed in Germany. Art is rated above entertainment, but good filmed entertainment of 90 minutes is a big piece of art in itself”.
Lost in Siberia – Trailer:
02 September 2016, by Cineuropa