Lausitz series “Lauchhammer”: “People want to see”

Mrs. Honfield, Mrs. Zertz – Starting today, a series of massive lignite rigs will dominate your six-part series “Lauchhammer” at Arte. Was that also in the text?

Frauke Honnfeld: Yes, we admired and inspired the giants of a bygone industrial era. The scene in which they stand like monuments to a bygone era is something like our first main character.

Silk Zers: The open mine and its legacies shaped the entire region and society and continue to shape it today. So is our story.

Honfeld: Our series tells of Germany that – when we started – seemed to be limited to Lusatia. Meanwhile, the consequences of the energy transition, its pains, the collapse of the usual facts of life, changing values, social division, and financial concerns are affecting and shaking the entire country.

Zertz: We stand on shaky ground, not knowing whether the earth will support us – and the Lusatian soil is a symbol of this. Abyss everywhere, crumbling foundations, holes and sudden slips. There is almost no better way to translate fundamental uncertainty into pictures.

Honfeld: And this physically fragile ground also tells us a lot about how we still walk the uncertain land of the past. The legacy of politics and society has been filled and compressed as little as the lignite mines. Do not forget that it is not always the solution. That is why this place is so ideal for hiding victims.

A place called Lauchhammer.

Honfeld: In 1995 it had a population of about 24,000, today there are only half that number. We saw vacancies, we also saw whole dilapidated streets and entire blocks of streets where only one light was lit in one apartment. At the same time, we met many positive and optimistic people who would like to build something. People love their country. They don’t want to leave, they want to fight. This also found its way into the story.

Remarkably, many figures correspond to the common notion of the eastern German provinces – the number of racists, homosexuals, drug addicts and neglectful people seems to be much higher than the number of ordinary people.

Zertz: Happy characters are boring characters, that’s how they are in fiction, they thrive on conflict, especially in crime fiction. We do not do reports. But I do not agree, many of our characters are very modest, for example the Noack family of miners. The young policeman is the founder of the old bell. And of course our main characters. Mišel Matičević’s returning police officer, Maik Briegand, is a quiet, unassuming but stubborn man. But even calm can have an abyss. Rooting can also be a tangle.

Happy characters are boring characters.
Silk Zerts

Did these guys appear abstractly in the text or only when I personally tested them while searching the site?

Honfeld: Research is done before the script is written. We already knew Lusatia well, but we not only visited museums and archives for our research, but also visited places and landscapes. We talked to social workers, the mayor, the doctor who treats drug addicts, but also to people trying something new. However, the characters are of course fictional. A Maik Briegand does not work at LKA Cottbus. In fact, police officers from the Lauchhammer area do not trample any traces of the crime scene.

And did it affect the story that she is of two women – which is still the exception rather than the rule in the film and television industry?

Zertz: Oh, that’s not true anymore; There have been a lot of women writers for a long time, including very successful female authors. Regardless of their gender, what matters is that the characters become visible with all their psychological and biographical duality. We attach great importance to it, we wanted to give each character depth, good and bad, weak and strong sides.

Honfeld: Although we may have drawn Mike Brigan a little differently than the guy. Perhaps we women find different personality traits fascinating in the figure; The vulnerability behind a very masculine facade, for example. Mike Bregan not only carries a few kilograms, but also a lot of other things: past, guilt, allegations, anger.

However, the multiple dimensions here mean that many men are toxic.

Honfeld: I don’t like the term toxic masculinity any more than I do “old white” because both terms are one-dimensional in their own right. But of course the lack of women in this region is a fact that forms society and interdependence and causes feelings of rejection and failure.

Is the series biased towards any side of the heroes?

Honfeld: No. Nor should a fantasy like this.

Zertz: It is important that the characters are round. This behavior is understandable and sympathetic. Miners in the German Democratic Republic, for example, were very proud. You have worked hard and given a lot. When young climate activists like Mike’s daughter Jackie say everything about it is wrong, it creates resistance. Through our stories, we also want to make it understandable why people do what they do and think what they think.

Like doctors, do you take some kind of antecedents of characters to explain their behavior holistically?

Honfeld: Approximately. Saying is more important to us than explanation.

Zertz: This is the form of respect we owe to the characters as well as to the viewers, even if it takes time and energy.

Honfeld: During the writing process, we talked about the characters for days as if they were friends we sometimes establish the same way, sometimes different. This is the big advantage: you can exchange ideas, you can discuss, there are different points of view, it just gets more intense. That’s why I appreciate writing together: if it works, that’s great luck and a lot of fun.

Who did not have the first …

Zertz: Previously, we worked together on the ARD TV play “Missing in Berlin”, then ZDF’s “Dangerous Truth” came to us. “Lauchhammer” is our third collaboration.

Did ARD and Arte ask you about this experience together?

Honfeld: It was the other way around. We first developed the concept of “Lauchhammer” and then introduced it to production company moovie. They let us do it first and then they went to the ARD.

This series could theoretically be played in Duisburg-Marxloh or a remote area in the Bavarian Forest.

Both (almost angry): No!

Honfeld: The radical nature of the systemic breakdown in Lusatia is essential to history. The entire state system that so many people believed in has collapsed. They fought for their socialist ideals – which were by no means wrong – and suddenly everything was said to be wrong?

Zertz: This landscape of spirits is so East German that you can’t just take it to North Rhine-Westphalia.

People thought it cool not to shoot in Berlin, Hamburg or Cologne, but at their home. People want to be seen.
Miss Honfeld

Have people in Brandenburg actually seen the finished product?

Zertz: no not yet. But in Schwarzheide it will be shown in front of an audience, with many from the region who have supported us.

As a writer who writes about real people, do you fear the moment they first see and judge?

Honfeld: No, in a fantasy series all the characters are not flesh and blood, they are made up. But we say very honestly from an area in Germany that many have not seen before. And I’m also glad, because there was a lot of support during the filming, and people thought it cool not to shoot in Berlin, Hamburg or Cologne, but at home. People want to be seen.

Zertz: We make the region visible with its feelings and stories, past and present in a prime-time visually stunning series. People sometimes ask us: This Lauchhammer in this scene – that doesn’t exist, does it? Where are you really photographed? Probably nothing like that will ever be requested after it airs.

All six episodes are already in the ARD and Arte media libraries. Aarti is showing three episodes on Thursday, September 8th. and 15.9. From 8:15 pm, the series will be shown in double episodes on Wednesday, September 29 at 8:15 pm.

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