The Kompagnon Fellowship was established by Berlinale Talents and Perspektive Deutsches Kino to support two Germany-based directors or screenwriters in their artistic and professional development. In its first year, it was awarded to Talents alumna and director Nora Fingscheidt, after her screenplay for „System Crasher“ was selected for the Script Station in 2017.

Q: You participated in the Berlinale Talents programme twice. The first time was in 2012, the second in 2017. What were your experiences of both events?

In 2012, I was still a student in my second year at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and had only made two short films at the time. Being a Talent back then was absolutely exciting, because it was all about networking, getting to know the industry and meeting people. I met filmmakers from different countries who I am still in touch with. We keep each other updated about our current projects and share what we have been working on in the meantime.

Being at the Script Station in 2017 was a completely different experience, because I focused on the development of one concrete film project. I had less time to participate in other Talents events, because we worked on our own projects in a small group and in a more intensive and professional way.

Q: Is there one specific aspect or event that had an impact on you and your work?

Definitely! It is difficult to name one single aspect. Sometimes the talks and panels with experts can be inspiring. And sometimes it is a young filmmaker who introduces his or her work. One of the most impressive moments was a personal encounter with the Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan in 2012. These conversations are a reason for me to still return to Berlinale Talents as a guest every year until today.

Q: This year, you are returning to the Berlinale as a guest of Perspektive Deutsches Kino with your film “Without This World”. What was your inspiration for this project?

At sixteen, I lived in Argentina as an exchange student. One day, someone asked me to come to a hospital to help translate, because no one in that region spoke German. At the hospital I met a girl from a Mennonite community who was very ill. I had to try and explain to her and her father that in order to survive, she would have to take her medication every day. This encounter stayed in my mind for a long time afterwards and I kept asking myself: Why do people choose to live like this? They were kind, intelligent and open-minded people. Yet they voluntarily lived like people from the 18th century. That was the initial impulse for my decision to return there later: to meet their community, find out how they live and to understand their culture.

What we found was an extremely religious community, whose mind set differs radically from ours or that of the Argentinians. Long moments of silence, for instance, are part of their culture. This is something that might make us feel uncomfortable, because we are socialised in a different way.

Q: Last year, in 2017, you received the newly launched Kompagnon Fellowship for your feature film debut “System Crasher”. In what way did the prize facilitate your project?

It is certainly motivating to receive such a prize, because it shows that other people believe in your project as well. In addition to the prize money of € 5,000, you are accompanied by mentors for a year - that was great and particularly helpful for System Crashers. Part of this mentorship was a screenplay consultation with Bernd Lange, directing preparations with Andreas Dresen and getting legal advice on important production contracts. Receiving legal advice was especially helpful to me. I had just graduated from film school and did not have any practical experience in that area. This combination of financial support with content-oriented mentoring is terrific.

Q: At what stage is the production of “System Crasher” now?

We are in the middle of shooting and right now it is a pretty wild ride. We will be shooting until early March. We have 60 days of shooting and that is quite a challenge, especially with our nine-year-old leading actress. We are slightly overwhelmed, but I think that is part of the whole filmmaking process and directing.

Interview: Alicia Breitfeld and Sara Louise Könemann