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Tobias Nölle • Director

“He’s not acting Aloys; he is Aloys”


- BERLIN 2016: Cineuropa met up with Swiss director Tobias Nölle, who presented the world premiere of his intriguing movie Aloys in the Panorama section of the Berlinale

Tobias Nölle  • Director

Cineuropa met up with young Swiss director Tobias Nölle, one of the minds behind the omnibus project Wonderland [+see also:
film review
interview: Carmen Jaquier and Lionel R…
film profile
, who presented the world premiere of his fascinating and intriguing movie Aloys [+see also:
film review
interview: Tobias Nölle
film profile
in the prestigious Panorama section of the Berlinale

Cineuropa: What do you expect from the Aloys premiere in the Panorama of the Berlinale?
Tobias Nölle:
The Berlinale is one of the most prestigious places to show your film, and I feel extremely honoured. In a more practical sense, I hope some viewers carry Aloys and Vera out of the cinema, inside their minds or within their subconscious pockets, so that they might accompany them out into the harsh reality that is lurking outside the cinema.

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Aloys talks about alienation, about a contemporary man who could not be further from a James Bond type. Where did this idea come from?
There are enough James Bonds on the screen. I’m not James Bond, and nor are any of my friends; we’re all the complete opposite. We’re also not Aloys Adorn, but we’re maybe a bit closer to him. I’m interested in anti-heroes who are total wrecks before the movie starts, or psychopaths or anti-social idiots, but who have a hidden secret, a human quality that slowly unravels, which makes them extremely unique and immersed in a perfect, magical moment. I love people with rough edges, people who don’t fit in with the common, agreed standards of behaviour. I call them rough diamonds – they’re archaic, and they have preserved their skin and bones instead of becoming a brainwashed ape that follows the other brainwashed apes. It’s a recurring theme in my work. I think it’s extremely important that we remind ourselves that it’s okay to be different, to have strange emotions, not to like the same stuff as everybody else does, not to live a pre-formulated life. In the end, that’s what makes us so special, one in a million; that’s what makes us love this unique person. Imagine a world full of James Bonds: it would be hell on Earth.

Why did you choose Georg Friedrich to play Aloys? Was he an obvious choice from the beginning?
No, not at all. In the beginning, people were against it – even the producer. They were afraid that he was too tough and too much of an extrovert for the part. But when I found an interview online, I realised he was the opposite: there was a sense of charming shyness and disconformity about him that I felt was perfect for the part, and so we invited him to a casting in Vienna. But it was the worst casting ever; he didn’t memorise a single line, and he sat there on the couch and murmured in his Austrian accent that he hates castings. I tried to work with him there, but I failed completely. It was horrible – a dream imploded. I couldn’t sleep, and the next day I asked the casting agent if I could meet Georg once more, but by myself, in my hotel room. It was even worse! I think we were both so afraid to fail. And then, 15 minutes before I had to catch the cab to the airport, he came out of his shell. I started to ask him questions from behind the camera, about what he thought of his father, whether he missed him, how he felt now being alone – it was more like an interview situation, but Georg suddenly started answering as Aloys. It was pure last-minute magic – I will never forget this moment. Back in Zurich, when I showed the “hotel tapes” to my producer, he said: “He’s not acting Aloys; he is Aloys. Please, Tobi, cast him!”

Was the question of social networks, and the gap between our real and virtual lives, an inspiration for the movie?
Yes and no. I was more interested in the fundamental questions of love and projection, the “gap”, as you put it. I wanted to explore how far the power of the imagination can take us, where it starts to replace reality, and where it ultimately ends in insanity or schizophrenia. The “gap” is also something I know, of course, from my own relationships – the clash between projection and reality. Most of the time, we feel our imagination is better, but it’s not; it’s just safer. If a viewer leaves the cinema feeling more like leaving that comfort zone behind, that would be a small triumph!

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