German director Lukas Nathrath has already lined up his next projects, Variety has found out. Following ensemble drama “One Last Evening,” which nabbed him Locarno Film Festival’s Cinegrell First Look Award consisting of post-production service worth €50,000, he will turn to “Bourgeois Paranoia” next.
A mixture of dark comedy and psychological thriller, it will be set in the near future, when rents have become unaffordable and the roommate selection process goes off the rails. Fueled by permanent performance pressure, winning becomes a matter of life and death, states Nathrath.
“It may have some genre elements,” he teases.
He will also keep himself busy with “Principle of Failure,” an episodic tragicomedy which will show an aspiring writer who gets caught up in an odyssey of misadventures, white lies and absurd power games with his much more successful cousin.
“These two projects, I want to make them on a much bigger scale,” he says, mentioning the latter’s blood-stained climax. But the concepts of failure and success have been on his mind for a while now, with “One Last Evening” depicting a group of friends getting together for one couple’s farewell party while eyeing each other’s achievements.
The film was produced by Klinkerfilm and co-produced by Doppelbauer and Nathrath Filmproduktion. With jurors Vanja Kaludjercic (International Film Festival Rotterdam), Tricia Tuttle (BFI London Film Festival) and Busan’s Huh Moonyung finding its storytelling “rich and nuanced.”
“On the outside, there is not a lot going on. But these seemingly minor moments or events in life interest me because on the inside, they start to reveal people’s actual needs and desires, things they want but cannot articulate. Or get,” Nathrath tells Variety.
Inspired by the likes of “Toni Erdmann” helmer Maren Ade or John Cassavetes, he also wanted to “process the anxieties” experienced during the pandemic, coming to a head over the course of one dinner.
“Suddenly, all these longings and feelings just crash.”
But while he shot his intimate film in just seven days and “a complete frenzy,” rarely venturing outside of the couple’s soon-to-be-empty apartment, Nathrath doesn’t see it as theatrical, he says.
“For me, things get ‘theatrical’ when people come into the room and express themselves via long monologues. But Greta Gerwig said this very interesting sentence once: ‘I am interested in how people use the language to not say what they mean,’” he notes.
“In Mike Leigh or Hong Sang-soo’s films people sit around and talk, but they are not actually saying what’s really going on. All this talk is just to silence the fears.”
Still, Russian playwright Anton Chekhov was on his mind too, especially when focusing on the main couple who decide to move from Hanover to Berlin.
“In his plays, people are sitting around in the countryside, nothing is happening and they are just talking about going to Moscow. Here, many want to go to Berlin and most never will. But they still have these hopes and dreams,” he adds.
As friends cancel and complete strangers show up instead, with fights breaking out and life-changing decisions being questioned, things quickly turn tragicomic.
“I often feel that the most uncomfortable situations make for very interesting stories. I am fascinated by how people try to save face when they are scared of embarrassment.”
But more often than not, such fear is just holding them back. Especially in the case of Clemens, a once promising musician now playing second fiddle to his doctor girlfriend.
“It’s not exactly my story, but it’s something I can relate to. Sebastian Jakob Doppelbauer, who plays this role and co-wrote the script, is a version of both of us,” says Nathrath.
“As an artist or as a filmmaker, I am often afraid of showing my work to others. If it’s not conventionally ‘successful,’ does it still have its own merit? Of course it does. But it’s hard to remember it sometimes.”