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And now not without contradictions: Chaos has always unsettled me. Especially where creative work is concerned. That’s why I was rather overwhelmed by the documentary for quite a long time. I couldn’t imagine that something could be created over years from the wild chaos of seeming arbitrariness, something concrete that self-assuredly strides toward a goal. But then I was informed that that’s the way collecting works. One buys all the furniture, available colors, and floorings in order to furnish a small room. One studies all the subjects in order to write a report at the end. Quite wonderful, really, if one has the necessary financial means and patience. Had I proceeded like that, I might have written one ingenious song and found the perfect outfit for my life. But I am only a protagonist, always have been. Have never researched a life, filmed and condensed it. I’m no lake that collects everything, I am (hopefully) only a small river. Because before I can collect anything, I will (hopefully) be long gone. Does it follow then, that I need to work on something else before I can complete anything? Does it follow that I’d rather pitch my tent somewhere else before building a house? Does it follow that I myself would rather not make a documentary film? Yes, I think it does.
Why Marcel Gisler?
I think the project sought him out. He was already asked for the feature film project by the producer at the time. But just like the new producers, Marcel was also of the opinion that the material would not be able to unfold enough in a feature film. He only agreed to the documentary. I was hardly involved in the choice of director. I had seen Marcel’s „Fögi“, and so I was happy about the choice. A first meeting followed. He needed to get to know me, he said, before he could commit. And that’s what he did.
Director Marcel Gisler and I were familiar with each other due to the many preliminary interviews, which is why my inhibition threshold wasn’t very high. The camera was, against my expectations, not an obstacle but an aide for me to feel at ease and sure of myself. Besides, I knew that the project would only be interesting if I was honest und opened myself up to the viewers. Just as giving a concert for a large, anonymous crowd is easier than for an audience made up of close friends.
Personal learning process?
Through collaborating on the film I realized that my projects are so tightly intertwined with my life that it is crucial I involve myself as a person if I want to reach the public. That also fits my attitude regarding life as a whole being the ultimate work of art. It was this realization that made me overcome my fear of being too vulnerable as a private person to allow myself to be judged from the outside.
What has the movie given me personally?
The interest shown in me by the makers gave me a boost – motivation to generate energy through working creatively again. That was urgently necessary, since I was stuck. My spirit had become idle. For a long time I thought I was lacking input. Then I discovered it again in the everyday and in my own interests. In that sense the preparations for the movie and the exploration of my past that went with it reignited my inspiration from within myself.
They are fiddling with the film poster at the moment. Three of nine versions are being pursued. The „electroboy“ movie is really a large project; so many people that are involved, so much work and devotion to detail, and there remains nothing for me to do but watch. Very unusual, but somehow it is freeing me from old patterns, as I always want to have control and the power of decision. It’s strange, technically being the centre of everything while not really having any influence on the making of the film.
Moving could coincide with the „world premier“ of the film. Whereby the move has a higher priority for me, because the film can be shown without my assistance. I’m not keen on any kind of „jubilation“ regarding my person as the protagonist (at least not at the moment.
The Swiss press has repeatedly called me a „timid spirit“. Perhaps rightfully so, as I have the strong need to preserve my privacy as long as it doesn’t concern any projects. Which is why the notion of participating in a documentary about my life was unpleasant for me at first, but I was interested in the challenge, and I probably hoped to find out more about myself. The film was a project and not something private, which is why it seemed reasonable to overcome my fears. I sensed very early on that it was not my project, but the project of the producer and director, and after fighting against that initially, I fast reconciled myself with not being in control.
© 2014 electroboy, Creative Commons
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Directed by: Marcel Gisler
Written by: Marcel Gisler
Production: Bernard Lang AG, Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen
Producer: Anne-Catherine Lang, Olivier Zobrist, Urs Augstburger
Cinematography: Peter Indergand
Editing: Thomas Bachmann
Location Sound Mix: Reto Stamm, Marco Teufen
Sound Editing: Felix Bussmann
Sound Design: Felix Bussmann
Rerecording Sound Mix: Felix Bussmann
Music: Claudio (Balduin) Gianfreda
Original Version: German/English/Swiss-German (german/french/english subtitles), colour, DCP, 90 min., ISAN
Bundesamt für Kultur
Filmstiftung St. Gallen
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Switzerland (Locarno, Luzern, Wolfenschiessen, Zürich u.a.)
USA (Los Angeles)
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Why this movie? In order to find answers to the question of who is behind the iridescent façade of this elusive, multi-talented glamour boy. Who is Florian Burkhardt? Hasardeur, artist, or imposter? Phoenix or fallen Icarus? The cinematographic journey with Florian led us to an entirely different place than expected.
After many feature films, ‚electroboy’ is my first documentary and also the first body of material that was not my own, but offered to me by a third party – material that I had to make my own. In 2008 I was asked whether I wanted to direct a feature film about the life of Florian Burhard alias electroboy. I said no. In 2010 the next query by another producer followed. It was Anne-Chaterine Lang. This time it concerned a documentary about Florian, which made more sense to me. And I had become curious about this character seeing that different people had independently thought of me as the director for the material. But I wanted to meet Florian myself before agreeing to anything.
While perusing the ‚Burkhard files’ many question marks arose: What is fictitious, what is truthful? The different manifestations of his persona that kept appearing seemed too grandiloquent to believe them straight away: snowboarding pioneer und promoter in Switzerland. Acting studies in Los Angeles and intimate friend of future international stars such as Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio. Top-model for Gucci, Prada, David LaChappelle moving between Milan, Paris, London, and New York. Internet pioneer with contracts from major companies such as Sunrise, Migros, Bank Leu. Successful party organizer. Voluntary patient at the Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich. Composer and interpreter of electronic music as ‚electroboy’ with a renowned Swiss record label. – And all this in less than twelve years? – With 32 Florian withdrew from public life. Today he is 40 and has been receiving a disability pension for the past eight years. He is dependent on medication and has problems leaving his apartment.
Perhaps my skepticism kept me from seizing the material straight away, added too by my general indifference regarding so-called glamorous topics and trendy zeitgeist stories. But these if indeed hip, but also constantly shifting manifestations of Florian merely represent the story’s shell. This became clear to me when I read his psychiatric diagnosis: „Generalized anxiety disorder and narcissistic personality structure with self-worth and identity problems along with indications of a social phobia.“ That was the actual story for me. And a topic that has always interested me. A modern, current topic relevant to our society that transcend Florian as an individual case.
Together with the historian Philipp Hofstetter I spent two years intensively researching Florian Burkhardt’s life, his whole family’s story, the different topics that Florian represented, the contemporary context etc. We conducted countless preliminary interviews with Florian himself, his family, and with other possible protagonists. I must have been afraid of not being able to seize control of the material otherwise. When we started shooting I had an elaborate concept, a dossier of facts, a script. But soon after we began filming I quickly realized that life writes its own script and that I, as a documentary film maker, needed to subordinate myself.
I am of the opinion that ‚electroboy’ can be interpreted in many different ways. I must admit that it only became clear what the movie is really about for me when filming was over: I see it as a film about the dangerousness of emotions. A tragic event cut off Florian’s family’s emotional flow. Emotions were no longer allowed, because they could be too painful. Instead, the family fled into formality and form in order to keep their composure. This is visible in the interviews with all his relatives. Perhaps it is Florian Burckhardt’s family inheritance. His life, too, was often an escape into different external forms – while internally he felt empty and as if cut off from the world. And then his emotions forced themselves back a complex of indefinable fears.
Marcel Gisler, July 20, 2014
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Cinema release Switzerland
German-speaking Switzerland: 27.11.2014 > Cinemas
French-speaking Switzerland: TBA
Italien-speaking Switzerland: TBA
09.08.14, 11.00 – Cinema Teatro Kursaal
10.08.14, 20.00 – Rialto 1
12.08.14, 16.15 – Rialto 1