Nothing Bad Can Happen is an uncompromising film about humanity's darkness. Can you tell us a little bit about what made you want to tell this story?
Tore Tanzt (Nothing Bad Can Happen) is inspired by true events. I found an internet article and couldn’t stop thinking about the maltreated boy, a good person who meets the wrong friends… The characters deeply touched me. Why was that boy described as a "retarded victim" while the abusers were called "monsters"? It was so far away from life. And I felt there would be so many themes to discover – about relationships, guilt, desire, belief, idealism, love, bravery… I was searching for more than an easy explanation.
It's a bold, brave first feature. Did you receive much support from the German film industry?
I was lucky, 'cause right from the beginning I was working with my producer Verena Gräfe-Höft, who really believed in the story and gave me the confidence that I should write it down. We convinced the filmfund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH), and I got money to write the script. That was really important for me – that somebody with money believed in our art and this unconventional project.
In Germany you really have to find a TV channel to raise most of the money and get some more from the film funds. So that next step was tough. We wanted to follow our vision, which of course would also mean that the story would be told in an arthouse way. We didn't want to compromise what we wanted to show and what we didn't want to tell. There were moments of doubt, of fighting. We needed a brave commissing editor and we finally found her: Katharina Duffner. She convinced the ZDF (a German television station) and the programme slot Das kleine Fernsehspiel gave us the possibility to unfold our vision.
As soon as the ZDF was on our side it went really well. We gained more funding from the FFHSH and Nordmedia. Still it was a low-budget film and all team members worked for a low salary. I thank them, because they gave 150% every day. And I hope next time we can pay them fairly!
How was the film received in Cannes?
Tore Tanzt was the only German feature film at the festival so we gained a lot of attention from the press. That was a great start for me as a new director, and also for the entire team. The German critics were really positive – I was suprised and had really interesting interviews. The screening itself was something else! We expected it to be controversial, and that was what happened. We had boos and cheers, escapees and long standing ovations. It was intense! I think we stired up a hornets' nest. And that is what artists should do.
Your younger cast members are incredible. Can you highlight some powerful scenes in the film?
I had a great cast. I have to thank my casting director Simone Bär for helping me to find them and my team for their support with these convincing performances!
The main young cast members are Julius Feldmeier (Tore) and Swantje Kohlhof (Sanny). They are extraordinary characters, sharing a very special friendship. I am very proud that both of them went all the way with me. They trusted me and showed me their anxities, feelings, doubts, passion.
With them we were able to create scenes that became kind of special. For example, a pool scene between Sanny and Tore which in way could be cliché, but we always found this moment in an unique atmosphere. Sanny expects Tore to have a sexual interest in her and is acting like a grown-up, while the older Tore want to play and enjoy the water. They get close, misunderstand each other, create distance and find their way back together. That's beautiful acting.
Julius' biggest challenge was to show us a Tore who is not becoming a victim but who is also strong. He shows all this different aspects of his character and he doesn't have much text. I like the moments when he smiles and you feel the tragedy and the conflict underneath. I think the striking performance is a lot about these little moments, how he touches things, reacts, walks.
You'll be present at the Q&A sessions after the film screenings. What kind of questions do you think Australian audiences will want to discuss?
I feel after the screening the audience is always close to the emotions. Most people will be sad, angry or touched. Maybe the audience longs for answers – they want to know about the true event that inspired the story. Maybe they want to talk about religion. It would be interesting to have a lively discussion, with lots of interesting views and ideas about the different topics and themes the movie touches.
Nothing Bad Can Happen is screening on the following dates, with director Katrin Gebbe in attendance at both sessions:
Pictured above: director Katrin Gebbe at MIFF 2013 Opening Night (photo by Jim Lee) and Julius Feldmeier as Tore