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An Interview with Doris Embacher
by Nancy Tilitz

Doris has resided in the Netherlands for the last two years but still keeps a flat in Hamburg. She is divorced and for the past ten years her partner has been Emmy, a little West Highland Terrier. Doris appreciates Hamburg’s special cultural events. She attended the Filmfest Hamburg on an industry pass.

Nancy Tilitz (NT): Do you have any favorites among the films you viewed at the Filmfest Hamburg?

Doris Embacher (DE): Yes, I have three: First Die Zweigeteilte Frau by Chabrol. I love all the films from Chabrol because there are so many things to think about, so many possibilities. They are so complex, mostly about decadence and the relations between people in so-called high society. Chabrol often portrays relatively normal people, who when they come into some money, change – often abusing sexuality, drugs and alcohol.

Another choice is the film Kicks by Albert Ter Heerdt because I live in the Netherlands and this film addresses the integration of Moroccans into Dutch society.
The reason Ter Heerdt made this film was the murder of Theo Van Gogh by a Moroccan, Holland’s equivalent to 9/11 in the U.S. Ter Heerdt, depicts this problem extremely well from both sides with a fresh perspective which includes humor. It is shown not only as a problem, but is often very funny. Prejudice on both sides is often revealed with a twinkle in the eye, so the film is entertaining, too.

The viewer gets bored mostly when humor is missing; an example of this is the film we saw tonight, The 11th Hour. It has an important message but the way it was shown was boring. It was like a classroom in a negative lesson. It gave the feeling of an apocalypse. For a contrasting example, take the scene in Kicks where she tells the Moroccan waiter, “I have never had contact with you people” and then she goes about meeting them. This would encourage others to follow suit. Or consider the gentle humor facing a stereotype when the bridal couple opens its gifts and the groom comments, “Every Moroccan gives a clock as a wedding present – and we’re still always late!”

My third choice is Empties by Jan Svérák. The couple stayed together revealing a real form of love evident when you grow older, of trust and reliance on each other, which is lost in our present society. This film touches your heart. Today people consume relationships and get rid of them if something goes wrong. They stay together only in the good times.

NT. How would you compare The Netherlands Film Festivals with Filmfest Hamburg?

DE. If you want, I will give you more info about the different film festivals in the Netherlands for your next publication. You might be interested in making a little trip to your neighbor Holland, and don\'t be afraid, the Dutch people speak English very well.

NT. After attending the FFHH do you have any comments on it?

DE. I liked to go to the FilmTalk, but it was a great pity that some of the films discussed in the evening were only shown days later to the public. So you couldn’t ask questions about the film. Also, many people did not know it was open to the public, therefore some nights there was only a small audience.

Most important, the festival needed more of an overall feeling of an event or party. People went to the cinema, saw the film and left. One missed the feeling of post-film small-talk; I especially felt the need after the film Rebirth. How the people were portrayed in the film, is this typical in the Japanese culture? I’m still unclear. Discussions could take place in the foyer and include the film’s actors and directors.
In the evening the directors came, but it should have been the other way around. Directors should stay one hour after the film so we could discuss. In order to talk with them you must see them at their scheduled appearance, if they even came to the festival at all. Then there is usually not much time, as the next film must start! It is a question of organization.

It would also be very nice if we could have had email addresses of the directors so we could ask them questions later. Even if the question was “is there a DVD I can buy?” It was often difficult to locate much info on the internet for these films. We needed a list of when the directors would attend their own films.

Sometimes the subtitles were very bad, with poor English, or disappeared too quickly from the screen, or were in a hardly visible tone.

Grindel had a festive feeling. However there should be a little “final farewell” party not only at Cinemaxx, but at each venue, including Abaton, Grindel, etc. so there is the feeling that it really is the end. At Grindel there was nothing! Although most of the films were there. The HHFF needs more parties. If you call it a FilmFest you must do a Fest! I missed the flair.

On the positive side, it was well organized. We got our press cards and there was never a problem to get into a film. The prices at the FilmFest bar were very reasonable.

NT. How did you choose which of the 115 films to view?
DE. Reading the good FilmFest magazine. It was well organized. The length of the film was also a factor. I didn’t see Performances because it was six hours long. But most important for me was the theme of the film.

NT. How many films did you see?
DE. Fifteen

NT. Do you feel exhausted?
DE.  I would’ve liked to have seen more films, but one has a normal life, too, and I realized two or three films a day were my limit. After three days I could hardly remember what I had seen the previous days – so you must make a conscious decision on what to see. Normally I want to discuss a film with someone immediately afterwards. If you watch 12 hours of Big Brother, no problem – you need maybe 10 minutes to discuss it, but one hour of Chabrol and you can discuss it for weeks. Less is sometimes more.

NT. Do you have some memorable quotes
DE. I love the quote from Immer Nie am Meer, “one liter of wine, that’s exactly the amount you need to maintain the balance of horror.”