“Shopping” (2006), “Peaceful Times” (2008), “A Gift from the Gods” (2014), “Wellness for Couples” (2016), “Sugar Sand” (2017) or “Tatort: Anne and Death” ( 2019) – so far, Katharina Marie Schubert (45) has been known as a multi-award-winning actress. She is now celebrating her directorial debut with “The Girl with the Golden Hands” (theatrical release: February 17).
The film takes place in a small provincial town in East Germany in 1999, shortly before the turn of the millennium. Gudrun (Corinna Harfouch, 67, soon to be a Berlin “Tatort” investigator) celebrates her 60th birthday in the children’s home where she grew up during the GDR era. Her daughter Lara (Birte Schnöink, born 1984) is coming from Berlin to celebrate. Lara grew up with her stepfather, Gudrun never wanted to talk about her biological father. During the celebration, Gudrun learns that the former children’s home is to be sold and expanded into a hotel: an economic perspective for the structurally poor region or a sell-out of one’s own history? Opinions in the town are divided on this question. While Gudrun does everything in his power over the next few days to keep the children’s home as a community and meeting center, her daughter Lara goes in search of her father and an explanation for her mother’s unyielding harshness.
In an interview with spot on news, the artist explains why Katharina Marie Schubert wanted to make this film as her directorial debut, whether she has a small role in it and what professional advice helped her with the shooting.
The Girl with the Golden Hands is your directorial debut. You also wrote the screenplay. How did you come up with the idea? And why did you want to make this film in particular?
Katharina Marie Schubert: I had the first idea for this film about eight years ago. And I actually don’t remember exactly how I came up with it. In any case, I wanted to make a film that deals with recent German history. I think that’s important because it determines how we think, feel and act. And also politically, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, the whole world was turned upside down.
How do you like the result, are you satisfied with it?
Schubert: The film was shot just over two years ago. Before the corona pandemic broke out. It feels to me like it was almost a different life and of course I would do a lot of things differently now, would think about other things and so on. I think that’s quite normal. I’m always learning something about myself while watching the film. I’ve never seen anything designed by me so strongly before. That is also very surprising.
What surprised you about working as a director for a feature film?
Schubert: The Actors. I’m an actress myself and as such I’m relatively calm. I come to the set, try to do my best and then I leave. As a director, I understood for the first time what a gift actors are, how important they are and how they make themselves available with all their being. I was completely blown away.
Your colleague Moritz Bleibtreu said about his directorial debut “Cortex” that he sometimes had to act as if he knew what to do. Have you had moments like this too? If so, who helped you?
Schubert: Shortly before shooting began, my cameraman said to me: “Katharina, directing means making decisions. You’re going to have to do that all the time.” That was the best preparation, because that’s how it was. I didn’t feel like Moritz Bleibtreu, I actually knew pretty much exactly what I wanted. But it was a great boost that I was in good hands with a great team and that the cameraman, the set designer, the gaffer and others kept pointing out things that I would have otherwise forgotten.
Is there a directing role model that inspired you?
Schubert: There are so many directors that I really admire. Listing them all would really go beyond the scope. That’s why I’m only going to name a few here that were important for “The Girl with the Golden Hands”.
This is Krzysztof Kieślowski [polnischer Regisseur, „Drei Farben“-Trilogie, 1941-1996, Red.]because he is also an absolute role model when it comes to screenplay writing, then Andrei Swjaginzew [russischer Regisseur, geb. 1964]who started with “Loveless”  and “Leviathan”  made two really great films set in post-Soviet Russia. And then all these great directors from Romania: Christi Puiu [geb. 1967, „Der Tod des Herrn Lazarescu“]Christian Mungiu [geb. 1968, „4 Monate, 3 Wochen und 2 Tage“] and Rado Jew [geb. 1977, „Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn“].
How did the collaboration with Corinna Harfouch come about? Did you know each other before and did you have them in mind while writing the screenplay?
Schubert: When I started writing the book, I didn’t have Corinna in mind. But then we played theater together and got to know each other. It became more and more clear to me that she would actually be wonderful and ideal for this role. I then gave her an early version of the book to read and she liked it. She also gave me a lot of support when we were looking for funding.
And how was it with her on the set?
Schubert: It was great with her on the set. She is smart and well prepared and very intuitive. She always surprised me. I find her an amazing, amazing woman. And it was great fun working with her – that’s not unimportant.
What brought you to rest after a long day of shooting?
Schubert: At some point I had an extremely tense back, so the only thing that helped was a hot shower. I also slept 20 minutes every day during the lunch break. That was something I heard on a podcast, Christian Schwochow [deutscher Regisseur, geb. 1978] power. I looked it up and found it extremely helpful.
Why didn’t you want to play along yourself or do you have a hidden appearance?
Schubert: I thought that directing a film like this was quite enough as a task. I’ve been pretty busy with that. Besides, it didn’t really matter to me. I dubbed a bit at one point though…
What impact has the pandemic had on your film?
Schubert: We were lucky enough to finish filming a week before lockdown. But then the whole post-production was a lot more difficult, to put it mildly. No time without day care, no time without cut and so on. It was all unreal and of course somehow sad. Watching the film now, it seems like a very long time ago, more than just two years, but that’s probably normal and has only been made worse by Corona.
Have you gotten a taste for it and are you perhaps already working on the next screenplay, or is the focus on acting again for now?
Schubert: Of course I would like to continue working as an actress and I do. But I’m actually already working on the next script…