This week past week I had the chance to watch and review the German psychological thriller, FOUR HANDS. I was also lucky enough to be able to ask the writer and director of the film, Oliver Kienle, some questions about his work. Here’s what he had to say:
Nightmarish Conjurings: First off, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. I really enjoyed watching FOUR HANDS. What was your inspiration behind this story?
Oliver Kienle: Thank you! I believe that inspiration always comes from your subconsciousness. By creating and telling a story a filmmaker/writer/narrator always relives certain personal experiences. So in the case of FOUR HANDS you can say that my inspiration for this movie was my own trauma and the trauma therapy I had to go through. For me FOUR HANDS is the story about a traumatized soul. A trauma can split one’s mind into two different parts. The two sisters represent the two different sides of a traumatized soul. One part that just wants to forget, that wants to look into the future, that wants to fall in love and have a normal life. And the other part that is constantly looking back, that doesn’t want to forget the horrible trauma, that gets paranoid and wants to take revenge. The Yin and Yang of trauma.
Nightmarish Conjurings: I see in your previous work you tend to take on the role of both writer and director, as you did in this film. Do you prefer one role over the other, or do you enjoy being involved in multiple aspects of the filmmaking process?
OK: I absolutely enjoy being involved in different stages of the process. In my series BAD BANKS (on Hulu in the US) for example, I was creator and headwriter but I didn’t direct it. The good thing about having another director involved is that you’re way more objective in the editing than the director. The most difficult thing about being writer and director is to find ways to still see your movie. When you do everything on your own you’re constantly blind and have to trust other opinions or your guts. Also I really enjoy reading screenplays from other writers. It’s so easy to analyze a screenplay when it’s not your own.
Nightmarish Conjurings: It’s common that people with mental illness are often portrayed as the villains in film, but you go in a different direction. Compared to other films, I feel like you treat mental illness in a very delicate and authentic way. Was that a conscious decision while you were making the film?
OK: Absolutely. I wanted the movie to be a authentic metaphor for confronting, reliving and overcoming a trauma. You can call the dissociative identity disorder a mental illness, but first of all it’s a protective reaction of one’s mind. I always liked the idea that at the end of the movie this illness somehow turns into a chance to keep on living.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Throughout the film you play with the idea that what is happening to your characters could be supernatural or psychological. Is that a difficult line to walk without giving too much away to the audience?
OK: The audience today is extremely well trained in this genre. That’s why I think you shouldn’t only focus on trying to surprise the viewer in a way movies could do so 15 or 20 years ago. I think the most important thing is to find the true core of a movie, the real underlying subject, the one that really tells the story.
Nightmarish Conjurings: I have no doubt you will gain many new fans with this film. Do you have any upcoming projects fans can keep an eye out for or any dream projects you would like to do in the future?
OK: Right now I’m working on the second season of BAD BANKS. It’s about a young woman in investmentbanking who gets into the power struggle of two big banks in Luxembourg and Frankfurt. I’m very happy that this finance thriller became a huge success in Germany and many other countries. In parallel I’m working on a romantic comedy which I wrote and hopefully direct next year. This will be my compensation for working on so many dark projects in the last years!
FOUR HANDS is now available in select theaters and VOD.