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The making of Aus der Seele

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Aus der Seele (From the Soul) by Holger Löwe won The Daily Mail Challenge Trophy for best film in the festival, plus awards for Best Photography and Most Creative Use of Sound at BIAFF 2009.

The film shows a young woman forced to perform a piano piece before a panel of officials. Though she starts in an approved manner her playing becomes more open and free. The bureaucrats cannot stop her and the force of her music finally blows them out of the room.

Portrait of Holger Loewe.I believe the story is universal

I'm happy to know and a little bit proud, that the people in Chesterfield can see my short film. When I was 16, I visited a summer school in Abington near Oxford for two months. That was more than fourteen years ago, so I hope you can understand me when I try to write in English.

I like Britain and British filmmakers like Danny Boyle, Alfred Hitchcock and Monty Python, of course!

In the festival version of my short film the girl sits in front of an empty sheet of music. This is how I always wanted it to be. I wanted to find a symbol for her total blackout in this situation. It was not always like that.

The first version of Aus der Seele I made for rok-tv. Rok-tv is an open, community television channel in Rostock. It is a people's broadcast, where everybody can produce and show their own films on tv for free. In 2007 rok-tv was celebrating its 10th anniversary and they asked me to make a short film for them and for this day. The topic was "freedom of opinion". Before 1989 Rostock was a town in the GDR (German Democratic Republic - East Germany, the communist controlled area) and the people of rok-tv wanted the film to relate to the time of the GDR-regime. This is why in the first version, the music score contains some old communist dictation clichés like "The party is always right!" and "Reborn from ruins". I believe the story is universal and not only about the GDR. These things could happen anywhere and so in the official festival version the music score is empty.

Still from 'Aus der Seele'. Still from 'Aus der Seele'. Still from 'Aus der Seele'.

The special look of the film I planned precisely in the storyboard, but the real work of creating it was done by my friend, Matthias Hobrack. He does the lighting. I met him a year before, when we were shooting a zombie film together (Rage on Stage - you can see the trailer here - with English subtitles.) At this time I was impressed by his ideas for creating moods with light and shadows, so he was the first person I called for my short film. Now he works as a professional gaffer with less time for amateur projects, but since then he is always the man for the lighting in all my films.

The film was shot in one day in an old assembly hall in a primary school in Rostock (northern Germany) on the 11th of November. There was one snag. At 11:11 a.m. on this day everywhere in Germany Carnival Season begins (Often described as: "The fifth season of the year ending on Ash Wednesday.") In the gym next door a marching choir started to sing ... loud and long. There was only a thin wall to the school's gym, so it was impossible to use the original live sound. I had to record the sound a couple days later with my own footsteps, an old alarm clock and other things to finish the film. Also the music, but that was played by the actress.

The role of the young girl was acted by Nina Schwartz. At that time she was a piano student, but now she studies acting in Switzerland. (I wish her all the best). There was little chance to show her conversion from a little mouse to a strong lion, because she is always sitting. So I told her to "grow up" in small stages, showing it in her body posture and her hair, so that she looked self-confident at the end.

Still from 'Aus der Seele'. Still from 'Aus der Seele'. Still from 'Aus der Seele'.

The selection of the music was a little tricky. I needed a hard song at the beginning and a sensuous song at the end. To find the right one of the beautiful songs of Rachmaninov was easy, but to find a good beginning was not. It was Nina's idea to make a new and untypical musical arrangement of the Shostakovitch song, to make it more authoritarian.

The reason why a charwoman applauds at the end is because I wanted to say that everybody with an open heart can feel the beauty of the music and the situation. It does not matter what their occupation is. I believe even simple people can feel it.

- Holger Löwe.

Still from 'Aus der Seele'.

You can see more information (in English) about Holger and his colleagues at www.ourstage.com/profile/8barfilms

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Page updated on 04 October 2011
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