La prière (The Prayer) press conference with director Cédric Kahn, actress Hanna Schygulla and co-stars
Critically acclaimed French auteur Cédric Kahn is competing for the Golden Bear at the 2018 Berlinale with his latest effort, The Prayer. Precise though thoughtful, the film depicts the experiences of young drug addict Thomas as he arrives at a religious halfway house, and has to conform to the idea of prayer and bearing witness as a form of rehabilitation and psychoanalysis.
Speaking about the idea that addicts actually in the situation depicted in the film could simply replace drugs with religion, Kahn said: “It was a long, long process, and it begins with meeting a young drug addict who encounters religion in this form. The idea for this fiction was born out of a kind of documentary, because this itinerary from drugs to religion was what fascinated us. What could you have that is further apart, with drugs on the one hand and religion on the other. But when you make the film, you see that there are some big overlaps there. This kind of transcendency is common to both. And yes, they do practise their prayers with a kind of obsessiveness that enables them to forget the drugs. It’s true.”
Hanna Schygulla rose to prominence in the wave of the so-called new German cinema of the late 60s and early 70s. She talked about her brief though imposing role as the nun Sister Myriam, and a rather abrupt slap to the face her character deals out to young Thomas. “It was a quick way of waking him up to himself. I don’t think it was any kind of abuse. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that a person like this has to find his own way to his own truth. Perhaps this is because he has constantly suffered blows. You repeat your experience until it becomes boring.”
She continued, “I was really worried that he was going to react, but he just accepted the slap. Even as an actor, because when I started making films, [Rainer Werner] Fassbinder slapped me in the face, and I always reacted; there was a reaction in my face. He said that you have to say yes to it. But it wasn’t easy to say yes to.”
La prière (The Prayer) does not have a UK release date yet. Read our review here.
Read more reviews and interviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival 2018.