by Gabriele Ottaviani
On screen in Visions du réel Nyon’s movie festival: it’s 5 days in New York – Gay Pride on the Hudson river, by André Schäfer, that Convenzionali has the great pleasure to interview.
How did you have the idea for this movie?
I had the idea during a talk with a friend and commissioning editor at ARTE, who is gay himself. We both agreed that, aside from all the happy partying going on at Pride Festivals worldwide, it is still important to remind people of the origins of the movement, and that one can never be sure of his or her rights.
What means being gay today in a world like ours that still admits unfortunately in many places the violence against homosexual people?
As someone from Germany, I am proud that I can live in my country as an openly gay man without negativity and that I can make this a subject of my work. That being said, I am of course very aware that this supposed liberality can be taken away in a heartbeat – even in Europe. In our current political climate, I have the impression that we are moving backwards, even before we were able to successfully fight for the same rights – for example with regard to full marriage equality. And when I look at what is happening in Turkey, Hungary, Russa and lately even the US, I, as a proud gay man, feel sick to my stomach.
What is the message that you would like to convey to your audience?
I want for the audience to think of those, who had to fight for their rights and for their free life – for example of the activists who were fighting in Christopher Street in New York. And I want the audience to realize that none of the freedoms we now have can be taken for granted and are set in stone for all eternity.
Which is the meaning of cinema for you?
For me personally, cinema means watching great films, that broaden my horizon and succeed at making me think. For me professionally, the cinema remains almost the only opportunity to make 90-minute feature documentaries, which are not formatted for a specific broadcasting slot, but offer the possibility to be creative in their look and their message.
Which kind of movie would you like to direct? And which movie in cinema history is for you the most important? And why?
The kind of movie I would like to direct tends to be the one I’ll be working on next. At the moment I’m working on a film about Klaus Mann, who returned to Europe as an American soldier and who was reminded by a Nazi – after the 2nd World War had ended – of his gay origins in Berlin during the 20s and 30s. As to which film is the most important in cinema history – I’m afraid I can’t answer that for I am simply unable to decide.