During the first week of Beethovenfest 2022, behind the scenes a special workshop happened. Two documentary film makers and a diversity trainer worked with a group of students for four days on the techniques of documentary filming. The documentary they created together focused on the concert project »Eastman c/o Villa Hammerschmidt«. The result of the workshop is presented now: the documentary »Im Interview«.
The participants of the workshop did not only train their lenses on the musicians of the concert, but also on themselves. They included their own perspectives as film makers with variing degrees of vulnerability to racism.
The concert project that the workshop took as a starting point already was one of the extraordinary formats of Beethovenfest. Four pianists played together distributed over different halls of the residence of the German federal president, the representative villa Hammerschmidt. They performed music of black and queer composer Julius Eastman, active in the US during the 1970s.
»I didn't know Eastman before. I listened to some of his music, it is at any rate very interesting. I will add it to my playlist.« –Soudabeh Samiel, student & workshop participant
It is music that has an aggressive, repetitive sound and can be linked to the style of Minimal Music. The titles »Gay Guerilla« and »Evil N...« reveal the non-conformist attitude of Eastman and his life-long provocation of the avantgarde music scene of New York.
To confront avantgarde and power was the main idea of the four pianists around Kai Schumacher. Beethovenfest artistic director Steven Walter came up with the concept not to simply insert Eastman's music into the Villa Hammerschmidt as an alien element, but to work with fragmenting the piece by putting the four pianos into four rooms. This way, the listener perspective and the alignment of the music is irritated. Pianist Kai Schumacher puts it this way:
»I always find it intersting to disturb a space with musical ideas. When you confront the people with something they didn't expect.« –Kai Schumacher, pianist
The workshop participants took the opportunity to ask Kai Schumacher on the interview about the artistic conception, the spatial arrangement and the technical realisation by the players. Moreover, they posed the question about how Eastman positioned himself regarding racism and sexism and what positionalities arise from this for the musicians in the concert, for interpreters of his music and generally for the classical music world. The participants went on to include their own identities and positionalities into the interviews.
»I have learned a great deal, even though I already have read a lot about the topic of racism, because now for the first time I had a discourse space, less a space of personal concernedness or a purely academic space.« –Pia Rodriguez, student & workshop participant
The resulting film is a thought-provoking portrait that goes back examining its own process and a highly interesting insight into the thinking that the concert »Eastman c/o Villa Hammerschmidt« provoked in young peoples' minds.
The workshop took place within the framework of Beethovenfest-Inside. The mentors were documentary film makers Miriam Jakobs and Gerhard Schick as well as coach for awareness/diversity/empowerment Michelle Bray. The students and filmers are Max Förster, Elizaveta Kapustkina, Jonas Meyer, Johannes Olmesdahl, Pia Rodriguez, Soudabeh Samiel, Leonie Scholten, Finn Settelmeyer and Evren Soysuz.