Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck Interview: ‘Never Look Away’ director

With “Never Look Away,” Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wanted to make a film “about human creativity. I was always amazed at how people who do great creative things … can take the trauma of their life and turn it into something so beautiful. It seems to me almost like a kind of alchemy, that you would take the lead of your suffering and turn it into the gold of art.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

This Sony Pictures Classics release follows an art student (Tom Schilling) living in post-war East Germany. He falls in love with a fellow student (Paula Beer) to the chagrin of her father (Sebastian Koch), a famous doctor who participated in the Nazi eugenics program during the war. The film is the official German entry for the Foreign Language Film Oscar, a prize that was previously won by von Donnersmarck’s feature debut, “The Lives of Others” (2006).

Von Donnersmarck based his original screenplay on the life of Gerhard Richter, a German painter who grew up during WWII. Richter “experienced the bombing of Dresden as a child, and all of his friends were killed. His aunt was murdered by the Nazis. He would just turn that into the most beautiful paintings” in order to “find a crazy type of beauty in this, and overcome his own trauma,” much like the film’s protagonist.

The rise in right-wing nationalist politics across the globe gives the film even more significance. “Tragically, those things always have relevance,” says von Donnersmarck. “It’s a dark streak in human nature that will again and again rear its ugly head.” Yet the director tried to “avoid talking about current politics because it’s always so supercharged. People have such incredibly strong opinions about everything in present day, and I think the best way to talk about current day politics is always to look into the past and talk about history because history does repeat itself. People are a lot less emotional when it comes to history, and therefore you do stand a chance of changing people’s minds.”

Von Donnersmarck received the BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film for “The Lives of Others” in addition to nominations for writing and directing. His followup, “The Tourist” (2010), earned a Golden Globe bid for Best Film Musical/Comedy. This season “Never Look Away” has already won the Leoncino d’Oro Agiscuola and Arca CinemaGiovani Awards at the Venice Film Festival, where it was also up for the Golden Lion.

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UPLOADED Jan 22, 2019 7:26 am