Regarding your participation in the Jury of the Nordic Film Fest 2020:
How did that work in these mostly virtual times?
It worked really well. Watching the films that are in competition as a jury member would happen online regardless. We each got password protected links to view the films, so we could all watch the films from the comfort of our own home. Additionally, we were able to rate different aspects of each film and could provide additional feedback, thoughts and opinions. The film festival itself was a hybrid, which is quite impressive. There were a couple of films that were showing at a drive-in theatre in Brooklyn. The majority of the films were screening online.
In case, it was the first time: what was surprising for you?
I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but very impressed by the quality and pre-selection of the films. I’ve seen NIFF grow into a very strong festival within a very short span of time. So it was a pleasure to watch some impactful and great films.
Regarding your role as an international actress:
Right now we can watch “The Queen`s Gambit” on Netflix, where you play Helen Deardorff - and you mentioned that you are filming a new project. How does it work this year under the influence of COVID?
We filmed THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT a year ago (in Berlin). Looking back, the time on set has now become even more special and precious, because we obviously don’t know when we will be able to film with such freedom again. Currently, I am filming a feature film in New York with very strict Covid-19 safety protocols. It’s a strange experience, but we are grateful to work. Hollywood’s unions and guilds have jointly released a set of guidelines under which any unionized production has to operate. Everyone gets tested at least every three days, we have a so-called Covid Compliance Officer on set measuring our temperatures, handing out medical masks at arrival, hand sanitizer, etc. We are divided into members of different zones with wrist bands that determine who can be close to whom. This film is set during the pandemic, so my character is actually wearing a face shield at all times.
From your point of view: How does COVID 19 influence especially the life and work of film-makers (in the broadest sense of the word) and the entire (cultural) scene?
Few filmmakers are able to work right now. Seral friends’ films were slated to go into production this year and are on hold indefinitely. Some might never get made. This is years of work and potentially a lot of money lost. The Covid safety protocols can easily cost millions of dollars, which smaller independent productions are unable to pay. I was producing a short film that was slated to shoot in in March. Most likely we won’t be able to go into production until there’s a vaccine widely available. Like many other industries, it’s a domino effect of unemployment. The film and tv industry employs tens of thousands of people in New York during “normal” times. Then there is theatre, which is currently suffering even more, because theatres are shut until at least until the summer of 2021. Some of my friends were supposed to appear in or direct Broadway shows that will never happen. Theatre in the US is unfortunately not subsidized, like in Germany, so we don’t even know how many theaters will even survive the pandemic.
Do you see any chances and/or possibilities in these changes?
I have seen some incredible work and films that were created during the pandemic. Many artists have pivoted and really put their frustration, time and energy into creating. I believe that there will be an explosion of art and creativity to fill the void when we are on the other side of this. There is already a shortage of content all over television. The industry is predicting that they will have to fight to hire and find crew as productions will be racing to catch up. And I believe that people’s need to escape and experience film, television, theatre, live music, and events will be larger than ever. I am definitely hopeful and optimisic.
Last but not least:
Your movie/series recommendation for the upcoming fall/winter season for our readers? Maybe an every year classic?
I highly recommend BORGEN (I will be re-watching it), which has recently been released on Netflix. It’s a Danish show from several years ago that blev me away. And I will be finishing DARK, a German show, also on Netflix. Also, watch LOVECRAFT COUNTRY on HBO! Oh, and for something uplifting and funny - SCHITT’S CREEK on Netflix!
Christiane Seidel is an American-born German-Danish actress, known for her roles as Martha in the Netflix mini-series western Godless and as the Norwegian Sigrid Mueller in the HBO TV drama series Boardwalk Empire.