After a 6 1/2 train ride through some lovely and very green countryside with occasional showers along the way (I love riding trains through the rain!), I kicked off the German Kinotour last night in Saarbrücken to an intimate crowd of eleven at the Filmhaus. Fortunately, the screening was in the small theater, so it didn’t feel quite so empty. I’d never been to this part of the country until the German premiere of FORGETTING DAD at the Max-Ophüls-Festival here last year, which was a mixed experience. As a film student, I’d heard so many wonderful things about the festival, but the whole time there I felt really old. It was the moment when I realized that I definitely no longer belong to the “Filmnachwuchs,” the group of emerging filmmakers German funders love to support. The saving moment of the whole festival was a special screening of LOLA MONTES by Saarbücken’s favorite son Max Ophüls – a real treat!
Last night’s discussion went on for about an hour. The audience was appreciative, and theater manager Michael Jurich did a good job of keeping the discussion moving. The questions were mostly the same ones I’ve been receiving all around the world, but when someone asked how my kids feel about the film, I had to thing about the long-term impact FORGETTING DAD might have on my family. My kids are still too young to give much thought to the film. Only my eleven-year-old son Jonathan can remember my father (he’s the little kid in the garden scene with my father and Tracy). My eight-year-old son Leander also met him briefly three years ago, when I last saw my father in Oregon. But that was a strange encounter where he hid behind my legs the whole time, seemingly frightened by the gray-haired, gray-bearded stranger who gave me about fifteen minutes of his time before “terminating” our relationship – a threat I didn’t take seriously at the time, but which he made good on.
This morning I met with a producer acquaintance in Saarbrücken. She worked as a family therapist before becoming a prominent politician in Saarland. After ten years of that, she tried something totally different and became a film producer. When I mentioned having spent much of last year traveling around the world with FORGETTING DAD and consequently not getting much of anything else done when it comes to getting new projects off the ground, she said there was nothing wrong with that. It’s all part of the healing process and my way of dealing with my family’s trauma. Even though my kids are still too young to really understand what I’ve been up to these past years, they’ll someday see the film and all my work on it as a positive example of how to cope with family trauma. The long-term benefits will far outweigh the short-term trials and tribulations involved in making and showing the film.
With that in mind, I’m going to plunge into all the craziness of touring around the country this week, and enjoy every minute of it!