Lola Randl – On the birds and the bees and cinematic utopias
Filmmaker Lola Randl (“Do You Sometimes Feel Burned Out and Empty?”) has left the big city to live in the German countryside, more precisely an area called Uckermark. She is for sure not the only one: More and more people—especially young families, leave Berlin to start a new life closer to nature, „the post-capitalist individuals,“ as Randl calls them. After her reality TV show „Landschwärmer“ (“Country Enthusiasts”), that focused on city people moving to the countryside, her new feature length documentary „The Birds and the Bees“ is about the director herself: Randl and her partner are building a sustainable farm whilst inviting friends for support. One of their guests becomes Randl’s lover, making sustainable agriculture not the only utopian challenge anymore.
“The Birds and the Bees” premiered at this year’s Filmfest Munich where EWA blogger Sophie Charlotte Rieger met Lola Randl after a sold out morning screening for a short interview on Birds, Bees and cinematic utopias.
You previously made the documentary series “Landschwärmer” for Einsfestival. Are the parallels to “The Birds and the Bees” a coincidence ?!
That's no coincidence. That's basically what happened when, after the penultimate movie, I had a burn out and felt empty. Since then, I also had two children and turning is such a family-unfriendly work. I just started making films in my living room. That's where the similarity lies: Both projects started in my living room, so to speak.
Do you want to reveal how much is scripted by bees and flowers?
There is hardly anything scripted. The question of why things have turned out this way and how they will go from here, is difficult to answer. But it is not a matter of auditioning false facts.
But how did you get to the people, for example? How did you find the people who appear in your film?
I searched and found them. It was a bit like Fellini, where you just open a casting office and ask: Who has what, who can do what? And people somehow find their way over this longer period of time.
Was it clear from the beginning that you were going to be in front of the camera?
No, but it pulled me there. And not because I feel so comfortable in front of the camera, but simply because the story has directed me to take frontplace. It is our story: We are this couple, recently having moved to the countryside and developing these utopian ideas.
And this story is very personal, I think.
Yes. Honestly, this has become apparent to me only now.
You did not know where the whole thing would go. How did you organize funding for a project you didn’t have a clear idea of what it would be?
Basically like a documentary. I had the protagonists and knew the environment very well, including the topics: What is life like in the village? Will the village be smaller or bigger? What about digitization and the new families? I was lucky that I had already done similar things that I could refer to.
When the polyamory story came up in the movie, I was wondering if maybe that became more important to you than the agricltural project?
These are both projects that I find very interesting. I would not say that I am polyamorous. I have only one lover and he is not a secret. In general, I doubt that the nuclear family is the most stable and best structure for our present time. And now the question arises whether there are other forms of living together.
What interests you the most within the agricultural community project?
I'm interested in the longing of the person who is removed from nature. That is not really the "post-capitalist individual" because we are not even in post-capitalism. It is only the desire for post-capitalist life forms. In the beginning, it is totally absurd to try to grow your own vegetables and feed yourself. But I do look at the post-capitalist soul with irony, because on the one hand you have this strong yearning for utopia and, on the other, you are acting in a contradictory way, wanting this and that and helping yourself to the things you need wherever you are.
I think there are even three utopias in your film: solidarity farming, polyamory, and film, which is born out of itself. Is there something like a utopian idea of filmmaking for you?
I like the kind of filmmaking that I used for “Landschwärmer”.: Without a big team, you can allow things to go at their own pace and follow them. Sometimes you are guiding the events, sometimes you are guided by the events. “The Birds and the Bees” was shot in in a similar way, but because the film is produced for the cinema, we used a big and heavy camera with a big microphone on it. Of course, this creates a certain barrier that you have to get away with.
I believe there will be forms of filmmaking in the future where things really happen and the documentary and the fictional cancel each other out.
In addition to utopia, Soap Opera is a motif in your film.
A soap is created as an endless production. “The Birds and the Bees”, on the contrary, is about something specific. Although we bring in this element of the soap opera relationship story, we are dealing with a specific question.
I’ve been wondering if it is actually possible to make good soaps. Also I’ve been thinking about how to give as many villagers as possible a permanent job - not like in a movie production that lasts only for a short amount of time. A TV show would solve that problem and at the same time it could become part of the utopia.