Veronika Kaserer graduated from the Zelig school in Bolzano/Bozen in Italy in 2010. Since then she has done many non-film activities and some shorter works. At the Berlinale she came with the feature duration documentary that won the festival’s
Compass-Perspektive-Award. I know Veronika from teaching at Zelig, she asked me to watch the film, I did – and want to share with you the fine, reflective jury motivation for the award. So well formulated it is:
Veronika Kaserer has made a film about grief, which at the same reminds us that life is worth living. With an astonishing closeness, unconventional montage, and many surprising moments, she portrays the last weeks and days of Heiko Lekutat, a 29-year-old Berlin dance instructor, and, most notably, his wonderful, big-hearted family. Does the film cause us pain because the family’s sorrow distresses us so, or do we suffer because we feel that the great intimacy to those grieving oversteps a line and in doing so impinges on our own sense of well-being? The editing constantly flashes back and forth between “before” and “after” Heiko’s death. Is it legitimate to disrupt the process of dying in this way in order to arouse, on an abstract level, empathy for the psychological and emotional process of grieving? The fact that a film triggers fierce sentiments and debates is a fine quality. We congratulate director, producer, and camerawoman Veronika Kaserer.
I wrote to Veronika…: It’s a very emotional film, it goes very close, you use the family archive material beautifully, you give the viewer time to breathe – I am amazed that the family gave you such an access and when we meet one day I would like to hear about your relation to Heiko, what you talked about, what shooting agreements you made with him; you show a lot of respect and you really catch the feeling of what it meant for the parents and the sister to go through all this.
I think you and Kathrin Dietzel (love that you stick together – with her and with Jakob Stark as Cameraperson, both former Zelig students) have chosen a daring editing structure. To comment on the jury’s comments above, it feels right to go before and after death, but is also means, my small criticism, that towards the end it feels a bit too long and repetitive some times. It’s a detail in comparison with what you have achieved.
There must be many festivals waiting for your film.
Germany, 2018, 92 mins.