The film that opened this year’s esteemed Forum section of the Berlin International Film Festival is a delightfully intelligent comedy about the power and other relationships of filmmaking. Its starting point is a new TV version of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s outstanding film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), starring Hanna Schygulla in the role of Karin, for which the makers are looking for an actress for the title role. Nicolas Wackerbarth’s skilfully developing Casting takes off with a documentary feel: how the film crew has reached the point where the seemingly inexperienced director (Judith Engel) together with the casting director desperately tries to find a good leading actor while they should be already shooting the film. The situation is made no easier by the fact that the producers insist on well-known names to interpret the main characters while the director is looking for an ensemble that will function as well as possible.
As Wackerbarth has himself emphasized, the setups of Casting reveal a lot about the hierarchies that dominate filmmaking – the power of the director as the leader and perhaps also of the power of the producers beside him, or beyond him. The relationship may well be generalized to apply to all other human behaviour: interaction governed by work, friendship, or love.
In this little pearl that Wackerbarth originally made for TV, Gerwin tries to use the situation to his advantage, magnificently interpreted by Andreas Lust, the Austrian Oscar nominee. In a delectable break, the auditioning actor is perhaps even about to secure the main male role for himself. The other actors are mostly female in Casting’s nuanced plot where one doesn’t need to know anything about The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (a frequent stage adaption in Finland, too), but on the other hand remembering the film may reward one with extra bonus levels. (TM)