In den Gängen (In the Aisles) press conference with with director/co-writer Thomas Stuber, actors Franz Rogowski and Peter Kurth, and actress Sandra Hüller
Having already won the prize from the ecumenical jury (one of the many independent juries that hand out prizes on Berlinale’s penultimate day, aside from the main competition), director Thomas Stuber and his cast faced the press immediately before the film was screened for the public. In den Gängen (In the Aisles) is a fairytale-like story about a group of people who work the night shift at a gargantuan supermarket. Christian (Franz Rogowski) is attempting to hold down a legitimate job while trying to escape from the shadow of his past. He falls for his co-worker, Marion (Sandra Hüller), while receiving stern, almost paternal advice from his supervisor, Bruno (Peter Kurth).
The cast all had to learn to drive a forklift for their roles, in order to demonstrate the mechanised restocking that takes place after the customers have long gone home. Franz Rogowski talked about the surprising clarity that this brought to his performance. “What I can say is that there is very little that helps you in acting more than a forklift does. You’ve got a whole ton of beer above your head, and so things can become rather concrete. If that thing tumbles down, then forget about shooting a film, forget about acting. As an actor, you can sort of despair when it comes to things that are realistic, and a ton of beer is pretty realistic.” Sandra Hüller continued, “I had a stunt double! No. My experience was a very good one, but I don’t miss the forklift in my everyday life, I can tell you that honestly.”
Peter Kurth talked about the strange accumulation of skills that an actor picks up, and that he remembers the forklift in the film with fondness. “I do miss it… occasionally. Because if you can do something, if you learn it, and all three of us had a little exam and got the certificate to prove it. As actors, this is like going to a children’s birthday party, where you learn to do all sorts of wonderful things. But the forklift – it’s quite serious, to learn this sort of ability, to learn how to handle such a device. Honestly, it is extremely heavy and if you happened to bash into a shelf then you might have a disaster on your hands. The most important thing is the tilt switch, which sort of balances the whole thing. In a way it was immediately how we could experience what the situation in that warehouse is like, not by putting someone in [the forklift] who knows how to do it, but by doing it ourselves. It gave us a very realistic feeling.”
When talking about how he first became attracted to the project, the director said: “It was some time ago that I read In the Aisles, which was in a collection of short stories, and honestly, it’s just a 25 page story, but it mesmerised me instantly the depth, the atmosphere of it. And I hope we were able to carry some of that over into this film. Way back – it was ten years ago that I read it – I had this fantastic idea that it could be turned into a film, and this was before my last film, and we started thinking about this film. It took quite a while to write the script, with some interruptions in between.”
In den Gängen (In the Aisles) does not have a UK release date yet. Read our review here.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.