Discussion Minutes No. 13

Festival Duisburger Filmwoche,
by Roman Fasching

The Boat God of the Lakeside Sports Club. Discussion after the premiere with Robert Bramkamp and Werner Ruzicka

Bramkamp happened to come across the story of the boat god and his world order in popular scientific literature. In the myths of Enki, human civilization arose from a list of abilities so ingenious, that they could only have come from the gods. While Bramkamp was working on his sailing license at a yacht club, the idea came to him, based on the story of Enki, of how the much-needed publicity for the club could be created: among other things, through the film. The goal: a direct impact and effect on the club. “Film can make things possible,” and it is a medium through which fantasy can be brought into reality.
More important than the question of the specific topographical similarity between this region of Brandenburg and ancient Mesopotamia, more than the fact that maps also correspond to networks, more than the aspect of water as the archaic basic substance, is the unusual narrative quality of the film, which became apparent during the course of discussion. Even when all the above-mentioned points, naturally, remain tied to the concept of a network.
Bramkamp wants to construct narratives that offer alternatives to what he calls “Psychodrama.” In his opinion, there is a lack of narratives that use, for example, lists as a vehicle. In a landscape without steeples, like the area around the Scharmützelsee (Lake Scharmützel), other stories are possible. The secondary characters in his film could also be the protagonists in other films. In this context, Ruzicka asked the numerous contributors present if they had benefited from the film. Jörg Wenke from the yacht club answered from the front row: Yes, the friendship of Robert, Susanne and Steffen had been his reward. There was also a financial gain.

The reactions of audiences are for the most part positive or complaisant. Brampkamp accepts negative criticism (“Too much” or “It didn’t work for me”), although he finds it regrettable. He hopes that audience members who aren’t able to enjoy the film much the first time will be able to see it in a different light the second time around, or, even better, that maybe they will even actively participate in Enki 100. But Bramkamp will not tolerate criticism that posits that the film permits a cynical reading of the protagonists. If the film does not offer a typical modern narrative, as is the case in Boat God, then it is likely a matter of taste; or alternatively, some people understand this language and some do not (or not immediately), but Bramkamp sees absolutely no room for cynicism here. This position is also supported by the other discussion participants. Bramkamp does not believe that the myth in the film eclipses the reality of the yacht club. Rather, Boat God is more a response to a real necessity; namely, a need for a project to generate publicity for the club.

The director emphasizes once more that there are many different forms of story-telling. Various forms are also very necessary, and alternative forms to the current dominant one must be permitted to coexist. The viewer will naturally react negatively if he had expected classical acting from Boat God. But Bramkamp hopes that maybe the film will “click” with audience members after a repeat viewing. One viewer likes that the film fulfilled her expectations at the Film Week; namely, that she had been surprised.

To close the discussion, Ruzicka referred to Brampkamp’s Prüfstand 7 (Film Week, 2001), which was also heavily centered on narrative and perception, and yet still resonates with audiences. The tools from the case that Bramkamp opened with his film will surely still be put to use during Film Week.

In the opening credits is written: “This film looks completely different from the film that we expected would change our lives.” But never mind. The way it looks now, it will still changes lives. The film truly creates a new reality: The Wendisch-Rietz Yacht Club will gain more publicity, since the film will be shown at Film Week, a discussion will take place, and the minutes will be read. For further promotion of publicity: the network as visualized by Bramkamp can be found at www.enki100.net.

Copyright © Duisburger Filmwoche, 2006