The Ground Beneath My Feet press conference with Marie Kreutzer, Valerie Pachner and Pia Hierzegger
Marie Kreutzer returns to Berlinale with The Ground Beneath My Feet, a tugging story about seemingly opposite sisters, one an efficient consultant and the other a paranoid schizophrenic struggling to take care of herself. Kreutzer was immediately asked what drew her to the topic to which she conceded it’s not specifically about the business consultant but about “structure, order and chaos and finding your way between these two poles in this society based on performing. There is a fine line between psychiatry and the pressure to perform. It is very volatile.” Although the film isn’t autobiographical it has a foundation grounded in Kreutzer’s lived experience. Within her own family, like many others, she has mental illness and members working in the corporate world. So she finesses a deeply personal but equally relatable story.
The filmmaker candidly admitted that “what really drove me was something I recognised in a later editing phase. The first feedback was terrible. I immediately felt like I failed as a director and was an imposter. That weekend I wrote in my diary and I noticed it’s about a fear about not being enough or doing enough. At the end of the day, that was my inner drive.” It turns out her drive dovetails the thematic core of her film, always pursuing perfection, and attempting to quell the forces of external and internal pressure.
Actresses Valerie Pachner and Pia Hierzegger echoed the sentiments addressed in the movie and pressures of the acting profession. Pachner added: “The most important thing about this character and this movie is this idea of somebody waiting to perform and function so all the weakness and dysfunction is pushed out of one’s life so you no longer see it. I was waiting for [Lola] to just let go. If only she could accept this weakness. It is important not only personally but socially.” Pachner confessed that it was hard to distance herself from the tension within Lola, a woman under constant pressure, “actually my jaw got really stiff. Even afterwards, I wasn’t able to relax”.
It is clear that there was a dedication to the characters that manifested in the writing process. Developing the script, Kreutzer did a lot of research talking to psychiatrists and corporate consultants. The encounters allowed for a lot of subtext. Most memorable for the director were the thoughts shared by a psychiatrist she spoke with. Firstly she teased out the fact that for Lola “things are right because she is being over controlled in her life. She keeps the darkness at bay”. And secondly she emphasised the importance “to feel the healthy part of Conny. No one is one hundred [per cent] sick or healthy. It’s always a dance on a very thin red line”.
Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.