Roland Reber’s latest film, “Illusion” recently premiered at the 46th Sitges International Film Festival in Spain, and the 47th International Hof Film Festival in Germany. Made almost in secret, the film has intrigued many, and apart from the brief synopsis distributed with their press-kit, WTP have managed to keep its audience guessing and waiting until their festival première.
Drawing inspiration from a biblical parable about the nature of illusion and truth (Corinthians 13), the film’s plot relocates for one night eight disparate characters from their ’natural’ environment, to allow them to break free from conventions and undertake a voyage of self-discovery, due to which their suppressed desires, sexual fantasies, latent fears, and forgotten experiences come to the fore.
I used the opportunity of the film’s premiere to discuss with Marina Anna Eich, one of its producers and principal actors, to tell us a bit more about the film.
An interview with Marina Anna Eich
Greetings from London, Marina. So tell us, how was your latest film ILLUSION received during its première? Your news feed showed a picture of a long queue waiting to get into the sell-out show at Sitges.
The reception at the Sitges Film Festival was indeed a tremendous success. The cinema didn’t have enough seats for all people wanting to see the film. After the ending and a big applause, a 45-minute discussion about ILLUSION took place. Opinions ranged from: ‘a visually stunning and entertaining film with lots of humour’, ‘a touching movie in a lot of aspects, some of them reminiscent of Terry Gilliam’s films, with some great erotic moments and exploring some aspects of the human mind’, to ‘there is so much in the film, I really have to see it again’. The German première at the Hof International Film Festival (22nd – 27th October) that I attended together with Carolina Hoffmann, the main character of the film as well as a new WTP member, was very successful with lots of different opinions ranging from ‘incomparable’, ‘touching’, ‘humorous’, ‘erotic’ and ‘sick’.
You mentioned that ILLUSION is your favourite film by WTP. Does the theme in any way bear similarity to, or even reference ‘The Dark Side of Our Inner Space’?
For me all our films have some similarities – they tell different stories, but surely deal with the big questions of humanity. All our films can (if one likes) question life, and are multi-layered, but ILLUSION for me has even more layers. I have seen the film now about 15 times and every time I discover new things myself. But as I said in my earlier interview it is all up to the spectator and not a general opinion – I can only talk for myself. From my observations, some people see so many different things in our films, and sometimes they don’t see anything, and that’s also fine.
WTP has débuted a freshly graduated Carolina Hoffmann in a prominent role for the film. What is the significance behind the decision, and in what ways does she fulfil the film’s needs?
Earlier this year (2013) we received a phone call from Carolina Hoffmann, a recently graduated young actress. She told us that her dentist (the same as ours) gave her our number, and wondered if she could find a placement or get a small role. We met her several times and she was enthusiastic about our films, and about the fact that we make them without any subsidy money, but with great creative freedom. With her creativity and ideas, she filled her character with life and took on the main role of Susanne Bauer in ILLUSION. We liked her from the very beginning and we got along very well. Since then she has become a new and permanent member of the WTP team. Carolina is not only an enrichment as an actress, but also a big personal gain.
You play the character of Claudia in the film. Was it as taxing or challenging as any of your earlier roles? What was the most satisfying aspect of your contribution in ILLUSION?
I think every role is different and I am very happy with this variety. As far as challenge is concerned I would say that The Courageous One in The Truth of Lie was definitely the most challenging role so far. But I also liked playing Claudia in ILLUSION, as an unsatisfied, bored, but curious pastor’s wife who faces up to her deep wish – a longing for union with another woman. The most satisfying aspect was not only to be a part of the cast, but also to be a part of the whole film process with my different responsibilities.
We have seen Roland Reber often exploring an essentially spiritual theme through sexuality by shedding varying levels of inhibition – in some, the focus is more on the spiritual, while in others, it is unapologetically sexual. Even though they’re always shown as being interconnected, which side does ILLUSION focus more on, on this occasion?
I would like to quote two opinions from spectators to answer your question:
– “Illusion is exploring aspects of the human mind.”
– “Illusion is a very erotic and sensual film.”
For me it is both – transcendent, with some very erotic moments. But as always, it is up to the spectator what they see and take from the film.
Any particular challenges faced by the production team during the shooting of ILLUSION that you’d like to share?
What first comes to my mind was the freezing temperature, down to 4 degrees during the shooting of the “visions” in an old brick factory. We were shooting at night and the wind blew through all slots and it was very dusty and humid. We picked the month of June for the shoot on purpose, and never expected it to be so cold. But somehow with a lot of hot tea/coffee and some gas heaters we managed. The conditions also made things difficult for the technical department.
And now for the question that most readers here would be itching to ask – we are aware that ILLUSION also features scenes of nudity owing to its sexual themes, but to what extent does it focus on nudity and sex? Do all of the eight main characters get to shed their clothes on screen?
Wouldn’t I spoil the curiosity by answering that question? But I can say that the reader’s eyes will have their pleasure. They can look forward to see not only familiar faces but also those they don’t know yet.
When is the film due for theatrical release in Germany, and in what other countries do you plan to release ILLUSION?
The German theatrical release is on 23rd of January 2014. We will again do a cinema tour through Germany to do Q & A with the audience.
The film will also be screened in various Film Festivals, such as the International Film Festival of India – Goa, Chennai International Film Festival, Portugal, Cannes, and some more. The DVD & Blu-Ray release in Germany with English subtitles is estimated to be out in July/August.