• First Film Competition  
  • International Competition



Martha Mechow

An ordinary interior, a young child and a baby. A mother is making the most of a few minutes’ peace and quiet when her daughter starts calling out insistently for her. So she disappears, literally swallowed up by the couch she was lying on. The opening scene sets the tone with the irreverent humour that oozes from Martha Mechow’s highly charged directing. Is maternity a punishment – this servitude to which women are subjected and the nub of the eternal “heterosexual knot”, as this playful, rebellious film calls it? Losing Faith unfolds like a bildungsroman, animated with the whimsical imagination of a folk tale. Flippa is its main character. Her mother has disappeared. We see her along the roads that lead her to her sister Furia and the witch-mothers of Barranconi in Sardinia. “Do you think this is why mama left? Because she couldn’t bear to pass on the rules of a world that steals our freedom?” With its caustic analysis of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, a chainsaw slashing Christian symbols and the materialistic views on the exploitation of women, Losing Faith is a breath of fresh air that’s not afraid of the excesses or insolent vitality of its actors. Driven by a spirit of community, its performative and theatrical ventures free the story from all theoretical and narrative rigidity and blur the outlines of fiction. “There is no plan, just possibilities to test. It’s by eliminating them that history is written” recalls one of the witches. And this is the way the movie goes, without a safety net, adventurous and profoundly free.

Claire Lasolle

The film takes a free and unconventional approach to the question of motherhood and women’s emancipation. How did this theme come about?  Can you tell us about the film’s genesis?

I myself am only someone’s child and not a parent.  When I started working on the film I was 22 years old and really had no idea about motherhood. And to be honest, I still don’t! Nevertheless I am very interested in the concept. Motherhood is, after all, one of the few universal and constant elements of the gender-specific divisions of labour. Therefore,  the earliest experiences and developments of a child tend to occur with its mother. In my film, I asked myself if this is why almost everyone’s first love or relationship is with a woman. Are we therefore automatically associating care and affection with femininity?

Your film introduces the concept of the “heterosexual knot”. How did you arrive at this idea, which underpins the film?

For me, this is a poetic but also accurate description of what happened during the transition from feudalism to capitalism. I’m talking about the invention of the nuclear family. An attempt to make the sexes economically dependent on each other. I think back then, people were aware of this fact. But today we think that love is the deepest expression of ourselves. However, the way most people live together has changed very little.

Your film interweaves different voices and discursive sources. Can you tell us about the writing process, and more specifically the text?

I have the feeling that I am more of a writer than a filmmaker. I love literature but unfortunately I’m dyslexic. Learning to read and write was very difficult for me. I don’t really know how to describe it, but I am very dependent on the spoken word.  I guess that’s how I got into theater and film. Today I have become more confident with my skills.

Still, the way I approach a story hasn’t changed much. For example, there was no script for this work. Instead, we told each other the story of Flippa and Furia over and over again.

That’s how the film was made. It went through everyone’s mouth several times.

Of course, there were also texts, but they were written during the filming. 

We had a printer with us, which was great. Often, I sat down in the evening or on the weekend. During this time, everyone had a strong need to talk. I wrote down their thoughts and developed them further. That’s why the following day I often brought five or six pages in font size 11 to the set. Often the players couldn’t remember their parts that quickly. But I don’t find that so bad. I can listen best to someone who pauses, remembers, and thinks.  This struggling for words somehow reflects my relationship to language.

You place a great deal of importance on collective times, between theatrical performances and filmed moments as daily life. Can you tell us about the context in which you shot the film? What’s your connection with theater? Who are your actresses?

The film has so many forms of expression because I wanted to try everything. Most of us didn’t have much or any experience with making films. That was great, we could experiment together. We were a fun group. Some of the players contacted us. We put up notices around town, in kindergartens and toy stores…. I think that’s called an open call. Others I asked myself.  These were the people with whom I was in the youth theater.  Today I work as a co-director in the collective Bäckerei Harmonie at the Volksbühne Berlin.

You use as material for the narrative some beautiful drawings. Where do they come from? At what points do they become part of the film, and what role do they play?

I admire Charlotte Salomon’s paintings. She is my favorite artist and was a great inspiration for this film. That’s why I actually wanted to write on the moving image. Just like she does with her paintings. But then I met our protagonist Selma. She always had a notebook with her. I think that was her way of doing research. Later this became a fictional diary of Flippa. You know, the film is hers too. She made it her own! Not only through her acting, but also with these drawings. I am very grateful for that.

Interview by Claire Lasolle

  • First Film Competition  
  • International Competition

Technical sheet

Austria, Germany / 2023 / 100’

Production: Hans Broich (Superzoom Film)