photo: Andrea Hansen.
Hidden among other notes on a lamppost not far from my apartment in Friedrichshain, something caught my eye.
Berlin – the city whose inhabitants communicate via notes:
Apartment hunters, declarations of love, Weltschmerz, lost teddy bears, the announcement of a party, sometimes also the announcement of a natural birth at home and accompanied by a request not to call the police in because of the resulting noise. There is nothing that cannot be said in Berlin using this form of communication.
The note that caught my eye was asking for help with an independent film shoot.
I was feeling sick and having a mild hangover, so I quickly decided to write them an email, hoping to replace my uncomfortable physical condition with some kind of pleasant distraction. Three days later, I found myself in a seedy backyard of a former GDR office near Frankfurter Allee and met Mariana Ivana, the manager.
Mariana sat on the stone steps in front of the old office, which had since been turned into the main hub of her film production company. She was wearing warm pants, a black top and was smoking a cigarette.
At first glance, it was clear to me that she was one of those people who are really cool; that is, totally relaxed with who she was and not even aware of her overwhelming composure, and, more importantly, didn’t care who would think what of her.
Mariana offered me a beer and started talking about the movie.
The film must reflect the Berlin nights in which the protagonists get lost, desperately, trying to find each other. A feeling that I knew well. I now believe that getting lost is an indispensable part of research. Berlin is a great place to get lost, among others who are also exploring the dark but bright side of their lives.
I listened to Mariana talk about the characters as if they were good friends of hers.
As a young filmmaker, she had succeeded in attracting established actors for her first film.
And I was also quickly convinced that I wanted to help him in this project.
Meanwhile, the sun was scorching us, the beer was empty and we made a date for the evening.
Around 9 pm, I arrived at Travestrasse to find myself in the bar of her boyfriend at the time. It was cramped and smoky, and there was an atmosphere that gave me the kind of vibe that there didn’t seem to be any notion of time.
Mariana was seated at a corner table with others and, over a glass of vodka, she told me how she had ended up in Berlin years earlier. With Canadian and Croatian roots, she is one of the typical uprooted artists of this world. As Alfred de Musset said: “Great artists have no homeland”.
I told him back about my confusing journey, my many travels, and we talked about how Berlin seems to be a magnet for those who couldn’t find their place elsewhere – a subject that plays a major role in his film. We have spoken of meaning and futility, of the fortune of unhappiness and the injustice of happiness. On how the extraordinary let themselves be taken over again and again by the ordinary, and how good life is in a city where the extraordinary are in the majority.
It was the first of many conversations with Mariana on the stage of life and its actors.
In the weeks that followed, I developed PR concepts, checked out possible locations, gathered people in Neukölln who were crazy about dancing, and sent them to Griessmühle because we were still missing extras. Time passed and the film was taking shape.
It’s hard to say when exactly Mariana and I became friends. Probably from the start. We helped each other with the nightly moves, strolled through one of the many Sunday flea markets and celebrated our lives.
For the brainstorming sessions, sometimes actors, sometimes photographers were involved, and sometimes it was just the two of us. Too much alcohol was our fuel, which led to terrible hangovers and, supposedly, great ideas.
So, thanks to a discreet note on a lantern, I met one of the most unusual women around me. Mariana Ivana is an artist through and through. You can see him by his very irritated look every time someone talks about his hated office job, bragging about how much overtime he has put in for something that means nothing to him – even worse – something he despises. Its total incomprehension for those who declare that the accumulation of material things is the goal of life instead of, like her, of living for art and investing in it all the time and money available. The money was only used so that you could invest it in a project you care about and then pay the bills with the rest. The “normal” are the crazy people of Mariana.
It does not consciously represent this attitude due to a certain moral or political; no, she really doesn’t understand the meaning of a superficial existence and finds this kind of meaning of life quite strange.
A life that has meaning does not require it. And the meaning of Mariana is to make films.
Artists are observers and collectors. They observe and collect impressions, feelings and scenes from the world they experience. And then they use this collection and translate it into music, lyrics and paintings. A melody can tell a story, a painting can trigger deep feelings, and a written sentence can be a photograph of a thought.
As a filmmaker, Mariana combines many of these different artistic skills and creates a total and complete work of art.
If you stop the Chasing Paper Birds movie, every scene could be a wonderful snapshot. If you listen with your eyes closed, you find yourself in the music and voices of a Berlin club.
Of course, I read the script several times; I was sure it would be a good movie. But the result far exceeded my expectations.
Am I biased? Sure! But I’m also really excited: the typical feeling you get when you think you’ve discovered something before others find out.
The film “Chasing Paper Birds” is to be seen in selected theaters in the fall of 2021.
Text: Marie F. Trankovits
Marie F. Trankovits traveled the world until she fell in love with Berlin. Currently working on his writing career.
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