Bavarian film director Uli Decker – Munich

Uli Decker is only a few seconds away in front of an audience. Relaxed posture, tough look, short curls in red and brown. It’s August 2019, and the filmmaker and director is reading her script “Queer Revolution” at a summer camp. The video was found on the Internet. As Decker talks, more and more people move around until the room is filled with gay people in the truest sense of the word. “We are not the odd other, but that in each of us cannot be extinguished by prohibition,” Decker says. What’s special about this scene isn’t that Decker is openly negotiating queer issues, but that she’s no longer fighting alone. She found a society she had been searching for in vain for the first eighteen years of her life.

When she gave the speech, Decker had been working on her first feature film, Anima, for three years. Production was set to take another three years before the film would premiere at the Max Ophüls Prize 2022 Film Festival and receive two Best Documentary Awards from the jury and audience. In “Anima,” Decker shares her father’s secret and herself. Constant rebellion against borders and injustice, a thirst for adventure, but also a sense of loss and a yearning for security defines their work. Decker grew up in Murnau in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps in the 1980s. The place is beautiful, the setting is impressive and the view of the world is discreet. At first glance, the Decker family fits in well. The father, mother, and two daughters – and a Catholic – lived together in a nondescript semi-detached house. However, Decker found this growth to be overwhelming. The father suffered from depression. Once she swallowed a lot of pills but only woke up with a severe headache. “It’s a facade, this natural state,” she says in an interview.

Ollie Decker (second from right) did not want to wear dresses and long hair.

(Photo: Flare Film/Decker family private archive)

Her father worked tirelessly to develop the front to protect himself, and the young Ole Decker tirelessly tried to tear him apart to get closer to her father. She was not interested in conforming to the image of women in those years. Decker did not want to wear any clothes, found the teacher pleasant in addition to the boys, and rebelled against the narrow limits of society and family. “I’ve been grumpy since I was three,” Decker recalls with a laugh. “I saw injustice around every corner, but I was the only one.” Whatever Decker found exciting, adventurous, for example, or becoming a pope, was reserved for men with beards, as she described it in the “Anima.” So why be a girl? Decker now believes that sexual norms were also a reason for her feelings. “There was such a void in images of positive femininity. I didn’t have a role model, just a fantasy.” In this movie and later in the movies, she can do and be whatever she wants.

Even today, it seems like whenever someone tries to show her limits, Decker can’t help but run across them. She resists labeling herself as gender, sexuality, or even age. “Labels like gay, straight, bisexual feel short, and I find genital pinning strange. Connecting with a human is so much more than that,” she says. “But I also know it’s important for creating vision. For some things, there are only words now.” Queens “I Want To Be Free” might be the song that talks about Decker’s life. Unsurprisingly, after graduating from high school, she not only moved to Munich, which is 70 kilometers away, but immediately changed continents. She lived for a year with locals in the Brazilian rainforest, hung her hammock next to their hammock, fished with the guys and felt safe for the first time. “It completely changed my life,” Ole Decker later says. Photos from that time show a young woman whose eyes are not only blue, but above all happy. “I don’t go to visit this often because I’m always afraid to stay there,” she says, and you instantly believe her.

Portraiture: Whatever the director found sexy - eg, becoming a dad - was for men with beards.

Everything the director used to find sexy – ie becoming a daddy – was reserved for men with beards.

(Photo: Flare Film Falk Schuster)

Not only did the time in the Amazon teach Decker the meaning of freedom and community, but it also inspired his first film projects: documentaries about deforestation in the rainforest and the daily lives of Brazilian women. The political position and sensitive vision of the heroes characterize all of Decker’s work, but most clearly in “Anima” “The idea for the movie came to me already 17 years ago, but it was very personal to me,” she says. At that time her father died unexpectedly, a prank by the students that ended with the death of the teacher. On his deathbed, Decker learned his secret about clothes and makeup as a woman. In the documentary, she shows what happens when boundaries around sex, clothing, and sexuality are rigid and rigid. “People should only be able to be human.”

Not only Decker, but also her colleagues emphasized that working on the “Anima” was an intensive process. “I had to be strict with Olly and get her out of the safe zone,” says Amparo Megias, editor of “Anima” Olly was afraid to embarrass the family and open up. But she did, she’s very brave.” Producer Katharina Bergfeld also spoke about the film’s “impact” and its director’s “peak fall.” When asked how she would describe working with Decker, she said, “Oli is a good mix of clear vision and open-mindedness.” She would never compromise on her father’s wishes, but keeping quiet about her wasn’t an option either. “Viewers shouldn’t distance themselves, they should realize the universality of our story,” says Decker. Is she a political director? Decker thinks about it and says no. She prefers a “maker.” Utopian films.” “I can immerse the audience in another reality for 90 minutes. I want people to get out there and enjoy life.” It is fitting that Decker did not want to stick with the proposed label, preferring to look at his poster. Berlin or Murnau? She says: “Both.” Murnau is the home of the soul, Berlin is freedom and society. It’s not Just an either or, and Olly Decker has known that for a long time.

“Anima – My Father’s Clothes” Cinema premiere on October 10 at 6.15 pm at Monopol Cinemas, the cinema’s official premiere on October 20.

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