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Xaver Böhm on O Beautiful Night: Interview at Berlinale 2019

Xaver Böhm is a Berlin based filmmaker. O Beautiful Night, a dark and poetic interpretation of one's fear of death, is his first feature film and it premiered at the Panorama section at the 69th Berlinale, February 7-17 2019. 

 

 

How did you get the idea to do a film about being afraid of dying? 

 

The fear of dying has always been very present in my life and I wanted to make an honest film, something very personal. 

Also, growing up somehow takes the magic away, everything becomes a routine and becomes less fascinating. So I wanted to explore again that feeling of finding the magic again, and that place for me is at night, when things are more unpredictable and in essence, mysterious. 

 

You’re make the reference to youth. I guess the urge of being out at night and exploring it also goes away with age, the same way it comes with teenage-hood. 

Also, relationship with the night might be quite a cultural experience. Did you think about that at all? 

 

I wanted to make a film about things I knew well. I grew up and have always lived in Germany so I was reflecting on memories I had. I shot entirely in Berlin and I like the city at night very much. But essentially we avoided the landmarks in order to make the film more universal, like a fairytale. 

 

In terms of the story, you use a lot of symbols. Was this something you thought of throughout the writing process? 

 

I actually started thinking of symbols after we shot the film. I selected items and an extra layer that just had an emotional meaning to me. I looked up the meanings of things like the raven and the flower you see in the film as recurring symbols and they all seemed to make sense. 

 

Do you think younger generations are less afraid of death than older? 

 

I think the more time you have to think about stuff different than everyday worries like paying rent and bills, going to work etc., the more you get obsessed with it. But for me it has always been a more heightened feeling I think. The world is also becoming more political today so many people are focusing on issues that affect them on daily basis. 

 

How did you develop your characters in the writing process and during production? 

 

I realised I didn’t want to know much about them and their background. Didn’t really matter, to be honest. It’s like when you’re on a night out and you meet someone, you focus on having fun and having small chat, you don’t really think about their past or background. 

 

 

Can love beat death? 

 

I didn’t mean to have this as an ending message in the film. But I do think that love and even more sexuality and death are equally mysterious. The one we focus on more I guess, love is always there, and death we try to push out of our heads until it’s there. 

 

The soundtrack and the colours which are very representative of the night and possibly a night club. How did you approach both? 

 

I think people go to night clubs to create larger than life experiences. That’s what I was going for with the film. 

In terms of the soundtrack, the first two rough cuts had no music at all. But I have always made music, so I thought it should be there and we worked 5-6 months on it. 

 

What’s next for you? 

 

I need to recover, it’s been quite a journey. But doing this film brought to the surface the research on sexual identity and intimacy which are themes that I want to explore further. 

 

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Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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