Archives for category: narration

More than a look at the few remnants of today’s Berlin Wall, a certain documentary film evokes the spirit of change linked to that symbol of separation. Jürgen Böttcher’s documentary “Die Mauer” has captured the immediate aftermath of the peaceful German revolution in 1989 around the wall. His aesthetic brilliance adds to a discrete narration: while the filmmaker’s voice remains mostly silent, his attentive glance tells so much about moments between (almost comical) uncertainty and newly gained freedom. The pensive style of the filmic narration leaves space for thoughts. As the camera scanned the length of the wall stretching and disappearing into the nightly dark, my very own remembrances of an East Berlin childhood gradually welled up.

berlin wall thoughts documentary die mauer juergen boettcher

Glancing at this concrete wall provokes so different feelings in all of us who were separated by it. Arisen from villages, this city’s vastness makes it hard to gather and feel close to each other. A look around sometimes reminds you of how small we really are.

I saw the screening of “Die Mauer” at the Berlinale film festival in 2006, when Jürgen Böttcher was awarded with the Berlinale Filmkamera. It was this film that sparked my interest in documentaries in general. Ever since, the documentary section proved to be one of my favorites at the Berlinale.

If films crystallize our dreams, good documentaries have the power to remind us of what dreams truly are: sparkles of personal experience, mixed in with hints of our secret fears and wishful thinking.

Seeing “Die Mauer” has made me realize just how much of a dream came true for me when this hated piece of concrete came down.

When the place you inhabit becomes too narrow for your dreams, move out!”

… said the bird to the wanderer, so wander we did.

manga lucid global village bird and wanderer
When a journalist recently asked me to draw a manga sequence for a TV feature about two Japanese players from the Berlin based football club Hertha, it kinda made sense. I’m not that big of a football fan, but this year’s world cup saw me taking more interest in the game than usual. Starting with a first excitement about (the Chilean) outsiders who went for unexpected chances, eventually closing the chapter of former (Spanish) domination…

…I gradually went more emotional seeing the German soccer team making its way til the finals – and beyond. Around the games I found small hints of what I think really matters in a good teamwork: a kind of fair play and moving on together that transcends the sport context.

Three months later, the idea to use manga drawings for a TV feature on football came quite out of the blue. On the occasion of an away game, the rbb regional broadcasting station’s journalist Christian Dexne figured out an unconventional story hook: portraying two players of the local team who hadn’t really been in the spotlight yet, using a typical medium of their far away Japanese homeland.

Both Hajime Hosogai and Genki Haraguchi are relatively new in Berlin. Meant as an encouragement for them, this visualization project actually became a great motivation to me, as well.

After a friend had already filmed me drawing for a documentary project, this new experience gave me an even deeper look into the whole process of professional TV making. From first idea discussions to interviews, filmic execution, cutting and sound recording, I learned in a few days what has interested and bothered me for years now. How to plan a sequence of scenes, how to decide on what to cut away and what to keep in, how to synchronize the music with the visual content? Is the work of a sports journalist that different from mine as an urban researcher, when we skim our documentation material for decisive hints – for foul play on the football field, for signs of social appropriation in contested urban spaces?

We actually took chances. Before knowing how Hertha would play, we made a big fuss about how they were maybe going to win.

And they wouldn’t win, at first. The TV feature was broadcast shortly after Hertha lost a match against Schalke. One week later, though, our “motivational medicine” took effect:

Playing in Hamburg, Hajime Hosogai managed to realize what his comrade Genki Haraguchi had promised, enchanted, after seeing my manga depicting himself:

We’ll make these pictures come true.”

Sometimes, life is made of second chances. If being seen is what matters most today, then changing the script of how you’re perceived by others can be crucial. Switching from raw sketch…

manga illustration storyboard
…to final picture always ends up reinforcing my confidence and the will to experiment. Nowadays, I’m realizing things from a bucket list I haven’t even written yet. Teamwork has often been the key to realize the most difficult steps of worthwhile projects, and making it happen is what counts most.

I guess, I’m kind of a football fan, after all.

manga YOLO bucket list
*The colored pictures shown here were made last Saturday at this year’s AniMaCo. Inserting them here means checking another item from my unwritten bucket list: show more of your drawings at a faster pace, since you can do it.*