Julia von Heinz • Director of And Tomorrow the Entire World
“I am my own research – I experienced so much of this myself”
by Jan Lumholdt
- VENICE 2020: We sat down with Julia von Heinz to get the low-down on her competition entry And Tomorrow the Entire World
Although Julia von Heinz’s And Tomorrow the Entire World [+see also:
interview: Julia von Heinz
film profile] is based on her own personal experience and was instinctively made for German audiences, it was then “magically” moved into competition at the Venice International Film Festival. As we found out, the director is surprised by the universality of her story about young activists taking part in the German antifascist movement.
Cineuropa: How would you compare your personal experience to the story in the film?
Julia von Heinz: It’s a very personal film. I had my experiences in the 1990s, when Neo-Nazism was a new phenomenon in Germany. My experience played out during one whole decade, so what Luisa experiences during a short time actually happened to me between the ages of 15 and 25 – a long and intense period in my life. The 1990s were bad – we had right-wing attacks, houses burned down, killings… Then it got calmer. We had more trust in democracy and that things would settle down, but about three or four years ago, things got worse again. First, I wanted to tell a story about the 1990s, but then the AfD party, Alternative for Germany, turned up and many people voted for them. There were strong connections with right-wing groups, so my co-writer John Quester and I decided to move the story to the here and now.
The situation in Germany is very specific for many reasons, given the history of both the first and the second half of the last century. How did you go about narrating it so that an international audience could also follow the events?
You know, I didn’t! I have told a very specific, German – even West German – story, taking place in Mannheim, a relatively small city. This is a regional story, or so I thought. But over the last few days, I’ve talked to people from Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Poland and the USA, and they can connect with what I have to tell. I’m trying to remain modest, but I’m beginning to think that it could work in other countries. I actually still can’t believe that it got invited to Venice: it’s magical. So even if this year is very peculiar, with the COVID-19 restrictions and the masks, it’s still so glamorous to me. I’m totally on cloud nine.
Did you do a lot of research?
I am my own research – I experienced so much of this myself, and it’s in my head. But some things have changed: for instance, the young left-wing people of today have a commitment to climate, gender and transgender rights, and animal rights, things that I embrace, whereas we discussed “big” issues, like capitalism. Also, there were no mobile phones in the 1990s, which, of course, we had to write into the story, for several reasons.
Luisa comes from a family of nobility: her father is actually a baron, and she lives on a grand estate with hunting parties and so forth. Your own surname seems to belong to a similar class.
It does. We are not that high up the ranks; we never went hunting and we lived in an apartment. But I made a documentary called Noble Commitments, featuring three women who are like that, full on. The year I spent with them for that film became valuable research for this movie. Luisa feels guilty because of all this privilege and senses that she has to prove herself even more. I know that feeling well.
Is she possibly a “champagne socialist”, or what you Germans call a Salonkommunist?
Totally. It’s one of the main topics of the film. White privilege doing left-wing activism – and then they can leave. Just like the main male character in the film, Alfa: his father is a professor, he himself studies, and he already has a life after activism in mind. At first, this disappoints Luisa, but it’s really the same for her. It was important to me to give them these backgrounds.
You even quote that well-known saying: “Anyone under 30 who is not left-wing has no heart…”
“…and anyone who still is after 40 has no brain.” My father said that to me. But I’m over 40 now, and I made a film that shows I’m still active with my heart. And I have a brain, too. So this well-known old quotation may well be false.
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