With her first feature film “Sonne” is one of the discoveries at this year’s Berlinale: Vienna Cordwin Ayoub, who will also open Diagonale this year with the film. Before the world premiere in the Meetup section, the director, born in 1990, spoke to APA about the goal of telling immigration stories differently, filming with amateur actors and the trick of getting your rebellious father in front of the camera.
APA: Your first documentary, Heaven! Heaven, was a very personal work of your family. How personal is your feature film ‘Sonne’ to understand it?
Cordwin Job: In fact, I’ve been playing with what’s real and what’s not in all my business for ten years. And I think this also applies to “Sonne” – I like to blur who I am and what my imagination is. What is clear, however, is that I took many details in the movie from media reports, for example that a group of young men in Linz killed a wild boar. Of course, the emotional world and the tearing apart from the past have similarities to my life.
APA: And last but not least, her parents are playing again…
Job: The funny thing is that my parents don’t play themselves at all! My mother was actually quite free and my father was strict – unlike in the movie. It was a therapeutic session for us.
APA: In “Paradise! Heaven!” Your father questioned every direction of the stage in front of the camera. How did you work this time?
Job: I wanted him to be there from the start, but he said something like, “Choose your stories and your actors.” Then I dumped my mother, which made him jealous and yet he wanted to be a part of her. (laughs) My mom has always been super responsive to directions, and I know he’s at his best when I give him the space…
APA: Against this background, would it be reasonable for you to direct a topic that you did not develop yourself?
Job: Yes sure, if it’s fun! But basically, it is very difficult to gain a foothold in the film industry, and that is the case for everyone. That’s why you’re more likely to realize your stuff when you have the opportunity to make a movie.
APA: “Sonne” is now produced by Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion. Is Ulrich Seidl’s movie language also a role model for you?
Job: I don’t think he’s a role model for me – it’s the only way for me. I can’t make a superhero movie where everything is written. I came over the documentary, the performer. It’s the only thing I can do. (He laughs)
APA: So working with amateur actors isn’t a budget, but an aesthetic decision?
Job: I really wanted to. Which is why I choose girls years ago. In the end, they also played their part in how the script developed. I got to know the performers’ personalities so well that I could adapt the role in the process. And during filming, I found my way of setting a target for the actors, like when I tell them: Make them angry. Since I mostly shot chronologically, they always knew what had happened the day before.
APA: What is remarkable about “Sonne” is its plurality of style, which alternates between TikTok and Insta videos and mobile videos. Did that also evolve in the process?
Job: The concept was clear from the start. And half of the clips were filmed in stages, while the other from the girls’ archive or filmed on the spot.
APA: “Sonne” has a cinematic language unusual in Austrian cinema, and you show a living environment rarely depicted from an interior perspective in local cinema. Was this your conscious goal?
Ayoub: My first sentence when making the grant was that I wanted to make a film that told immigration stories differently and correctly, and not as wrongly as they usually are. I think I did.
APA: Will it continue in this direction for you?
Ayoub: I am already working on the next project that will be called “The Moon” and it will play with the differences between the West and the Middle East. In short, I would like to show feminism in Europe and the Arab world – and again with amateur actors.
APA: An unpleasant question at the end: does the world premiere at the Berlinale mean more to you or the honor of being the inaugural film for Qatar?
Job: Oh, I wasn’t expecting both. But both are great! In diameter it would be nice for everyone to come from the team, which is not possible here. This is of course a big part of the festival feel…
(Interview conducted by Martin Fichter-Wöß/APA)