VATER starts with an archive material introduction showing me as a toddler in California - to emotionally set the mood and context for telling our family’s story. Diary excerpts, old photos and VHS tapes are assembled in a way that allows the audience to dive into our life - and understand how our little family broke into pieces when my parents broke up. In a voice over, I will give a brief summary of our my childhood, my mom moving to Berlin with me, my father staying in California… and him then being absent from my life for 25 years until his recent return to Germany.
Then, once this introduction is made, the documentary will no longer be based solely on archives, but will then be based on material I film with him now. This will be form of intimate conversation settings, but also a black backdrop studio setting, with my father and me (individually, one by one) being interviewed in this "confession box”, looking straight into the camera, respectively addressing me or him, behind the camera. These conversations and interviews are the red thread and anchor for the story to unfold. Together, we will go back in time, dive into his memories: from his childhood, to adolescence, his travels, his quests, my birth, the divorce, his alter egos, his multiple selves and his adventures that he created for himself in the last 25 years - while my mom was raising me I was there… completely unsupported by him. I will use his diary entries and photos to help him remember, and capture his reactions.
As we chronologically trace back his life, certain patterns and themes transpire. During all those years, my father has led a real quest for identity and meaning, in search of his own definition. In his diaries, I was able to discover that my father was very concerned about quasi-existential issues; his relationship to his own masculinity, to women, to money, to his multiplicity of failed careers , to his failure to take responsibility, and to family life... these are all recurring themes in my father's questions, which can be found in all his journals and manuscripts (years back, he in fact himself wanted to make an auto-biographical film about these struggles - so an amazing foundation is already set). Of course I still feel the pain of his lack of presence and expressed interest in my existence, the existence of his own child, but my love and curiosity overweighs. So bit by bit, I will try to understand my father’s psyche, while wandering in his souvenirs and co-creatively (re)writing our story.