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Houseguests (Hausgaeste)

Houseguests
Editor Vincent Schmitt & director Eva Stotz with Toni in San Francisco (photo © Konstantin Kirilow/Sabotage Films GmbH, Berlin)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2010

The idea for Eva Stotz's latest film Hausgaeste (working title: “Houseguests”) came to her three years ago when she tried out one of the international host networks which allow people to travel to foreign lands and stay as houseguests for free.

“I couch surfed at someone's place in Istanbul and then got to know his friends and family,” Stotz recalls. “I could see straightaway that when you stay somewhere privately, there isn't that touristic distance. This changed my relationship to travel and people and my view of the world. It was then that I thought of making a film about this experience and phenomenon.”

She pitched the project at the annual presentation by students of the German Film & Television Academy (dffb) to commissioning editors and producers and attracted the attention of Katharina Dufner of Das kleine Fernsehspiel and Annedore von Donop and Karsten Aurich of Berlin-based sabotage films.

“We were immediately impressed by Eva and the film's subject,” von Donop observes. “We are always looking at sabotage films for subject matter that is exciting and fun, but also has a political dimension.”

The film was structured as a co-production with Das kleine Fernsehspiel and dffb and there was backing from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, but von Donop did not embark on attracting any international financing even though the subject matter might have seemed ideal for such a strategy.

“This would have destroyed the kind of film we are wanting to make here,” she says. “On one of my previous productions, Rivers & Tides by Thomas Riedelsheimer, we worked for a year on getting the international financing together before we started shooting. This wasn't possible here because we also wanted to film how the project came about. So we have worked on a shoestring budget, but there is international potential since the film in shot completely in English.”

Stotz recalls that she spent many hours in front of a computer screen reading the profiles of different people registered on the host networks. “I then sent questionnaires to the people who interested me and also decided on specific countries and regions I wanted to feature,” she explains.

The result was her final choice of hosts from five different continents: a Tuareg nomad music enthusiast in Africa's Mali, an environmental activist in Tokyo, an ecologist on the Palestinian West Bank, a passionate dancer in Turkey, and a visionary in the United States.

Apart from discovering breathtaking landscapes and learning about these people's lives, the film will also pose bigger questions, as the producers point out: “What kind of possibilities does life have to offer when someone is ready to open up? Do humans, aside from all the difficulties, also have a chance through globalization? In all this, can new media be used in a meaningful way? How different does the world look when we are not concentrating on all our differences but accept all the gifts of similarities instead? What kind of leeway does the individual have in its own small world? What is really important?”

By October, Stotz had already been a guest at her protagonists’ homes in Japan and the USA and was then preparing to travel to Mali before Christmas, with Turkey and Palestine to follow in early 2010.

While post-production on what will be her dffb graduation film is set to take until the end of 2010, those interested in this project and the whole phenomenon of host networks can follow the film's progress on the online blog at http://blog.evastotz.com/.

MB
Genre Adventure, Road Movie
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2010
Director Eva Stotz
Screenplay Eva Stotz
Cinematography Eva Stotz
Vincent Schmitt
Producers Karsten Aurich, Annedore von Donop
Production Company Sabotage Films/Berlin, in co-production with Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB), ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel
Format color
Original Version
 English
Shooting Dates USA, Japan, Mali, Turkey, Israel/Palestine, Germany, August 2009 – June 2010
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
With backing from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg
German Distributor Zorro Film/Munich

Contact
Sabotage Films GmbH
Karsten Aurich, Annedore von Donop
Kastanienallee 56
10119 Berlin/Germany
phone +49-30-44 03 08 90
fax +49-30-44 03 08 99
mail@sabotage-films.de
http://www.sabotage-films.de