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TORONTO 2019 Discovery

Ina Weisse • Director of The Audition

“Anna is concerned about the boy, but ultimately, she is more concerned about herself”

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- We talked to German actress, screenwriter and director Ina Weisse about her latest film The Audition, which premiered in the Discovery section at the Toronto International Film Festival

Ina Weisse • Director of The Audition
(© Stefan Klüter)

Widely known for her roles in German television, Berlin-based filmmaker Ina Weisse is exploring the struggles of a woman in her sophomore feature social drama The Audition [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ina Weisse
interview: Ina Weisse
film profile
]
, starring Nina Hoss. After its world premiere in the Discovery section of the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (5-15 September) and before participating in the Official Competition of the 67th San Sebastián International Film Festival (20-28 September), we talked to Weisse about her sources of inspiration, her background and her collaboration with the lead actress.

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Cineuropa: It is mentioned that you, along with co-writer Daphne Charizani, have great experience playing cello and violin respectively. Is this why you decided to set your film in the world of classical music?
Ina Weisse: The point of departure for the story was a woman, torn inside, struggling with herself and others. Her conflict is also a major driving force that pushes both her and her student forward as she drives him to peak performance. The world of music, which is very much geared to competing for excellence, was an ideal background to describe her character. And, of course, it always helps to move in an environment that one knows that well.

Anna is depicted as a person who is unsatisfied with her life, with her only getaway being her new student. Is there anything more to the relationship between teacher and pupil, or is she only trying to rearrange her life through Alexander’s performance?
Her high standards, her perfectionism, cause her to struggle. But this is not only a disadvantage, it is also a quality. Through this extensive search, she achieves a lot. Her student is like an extension of her arm. Anna is concerned about the boy, but ultimately, she is more concerned about herself.

From afar, the story might seem quite closed-off, since each of the characters revolves around a specific form of music. Do you feel that this middle/upper-class microcosm could appeal to a wider audience who might not feel immediately connected to this music world?
It's not only about that, the film is also about education, and more specifically about how violence arises. More importantly, I tried to explore the fact that children in our society are predestined to be victims. And I believe that this is a universal issue.

How did you develop Anna’s character with Nina Hoss and how did your experience as an actress affect this collaboration?
Nina Hoss has made the character of Anna her own through intensive work. She also practiced on the violin, which was of course time-consuming and complicated. Working together was a wonderful experience for us.

Do you believe that The Audition is a film about a woman who tries to balance her life, or do you see those relationships seen in the film in a wider context?
The Audition is about her and her family. The family is the smallest social cell in which different desires and idiosyncrasies meet and it inevitably leads to conflicts of interest, especially when no one is prepared to step back a bit. So, if it is difficult for someone to function on a small scale, how complicated would that be on a larger scale?

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