02. Get Well Soon – Busy Hope
03. Portishead – The Rip
04. Irmin Schmidt – Bei Flavia I
05. Iron & Wine – Freedom Hangs Like Heaven
06. The Long Winters – (It's A) Departure
07. Calexico – The Black Light
08. The Velvet Underground – Some Kinda Love
09. Thom – Beds In The East
10. Irmin Schmidt - Fresko
11. Beirut – Postcards From Italy
12. Fabrizio De André – Quello Che Non Ho
13. Jason Collet – We All Loose One Another
14. Bonnie Prince Billy and Matt Sweeney – Torn And Brayed
15. Monta – My Impropriety
16. Sibylle Baier – Let Us Know
17. Irmin Schmidt – Bei Flavia II
18. Rosa Balistreri – Quannu Moru
19. Grinderman – Song For Frank
20. Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man – Mysteries
21. Get Well Soon – Good Friday
Wim’s ABC for the PALERMO SHOOTING soundtrack
The first film I made with * Dennis Hopper, seems about half a life ago. (It was 1976, and I was 31 not 62...) Dennis came straight from the Philippines to Hamburg and basically tripped out of the plane, wearing the outfit of his character in “Apocalypse Now”, several (unloaded) cameras dangling around his neck. He was wasted in a pretty bad way, you could even say suicidal or at least world-weary, and it took us some time to get him back into shape. Dennis later mentioned that our film had saved his life. (Otherwise I wouldn’t dare saying so…) In his part as Ripley he once answers the question what he was doing in Hamburg with the line: “I’m bringing the Beatles back to Hamburg!” The hero of that film, by the name of Zimmermann(!), played by Bruno Ganz, listens to the KINKS in his workshop, on his record player. At the time CDs didn’t exist yet, and the word “digital” was not part of our vocabulary. (I wonder if it even was in the dictionary…)
They are raining down on Finn in Palermo. When asked by Finn, who he is, Frank answers: “Death…is an arrow from the future flying towards you…”
B like Battaglia
The legendary photographer Letizia Battaglia lives in * Palermo and has shown great courage risking her personal safety to take photographs of the victims of * Mafia slayings and publish them in books. She improvises a scene in the film with Finn.
Bonnie „Prince“ Billy
He is a prolific musician from Kentucky who has also releases albums and CDs under the names "Will Oldman" and "Palace Music". He has two songs in the film: the haunting "Death to Everyone" (hard to shake it once you've heard it) and the new song “Torn and Brayed” that he recorded together with Matt Sweeney for the film.
A very young man is hiding behind this name: Zach Condon from Albuquerque, New Mexico. After he graduated from High School, he ventured into Europe. All the amazing impressions from this journey melted in his head into one big East-West-European musical stew. Back home he digested that into am amazing, soulful cycle of songs that became his debut album “Gulag Orkestar”. “Postcards From Italy” is from that CD, and I swear I didn’t use it because of its title. It was just the best possible song in Finn’s headphones when he sets out on his second trip into Palermo’s Old Town.
Beth Gibbons & Rustin’ Man
The toughest choice, usually, in the process of choosing the * music for your film is finding a song for the ending. But in this case there was a clear favorite from the beginning: “Mysteries”, from Beth Gibbon’s solo album “Out of Season” that she made with Rustin’ Man a few years ago. When I heard the song for the first time over the last shot of the film - Flavia lying next to Finn in the bed just looking at him - I had tears in my eyes. And now that I’ve seen my ending at least a hundred times with Beth’s song over it, I still get goose-pimples! It’s not the only time you hear Beth’s voice in the film. On his first walk through Palermo Finn is listening to a song by * Portishead.
C like Campino
Front man and singer of the * “Toten Hosen”, Germany’s most famous punk and Rock band, from my home town of * Düsseldorf. I have been intending to make a film with Campino for several years now. While shooting the music video for “Warum werde ich nicht satt?” (“Why can’t I ever get enough?”) in 2000, I realized this man had an unbelievably strong presence in front of the camera and that sooner or later he'd have to try his hand at acting. I feel fortunate he tried it with me. We showed each other a lot of trust and I think it really paid off. I have never seen anyone get the hang of being in front of the camera in such a short time. And Campino worked without a stuntman, doing things I would never expect of an actor. He skidded on his stomach through * Palermo, climbed up light poles and jumped into the port....
A band from Tucson, Arizona, and I’m an ardent fan of their music ever since I first heard them “The Black Light” fits perfectly to Finn’s arrival in the unknown city, with all those allusions you hear like: „Beneath the heart of the city...“.... „follow her hand to the dark end of the street“, „crossing the night, invisible to the electric eye...“...
D like Düsseldorf
My home town. I spent the first years of my life in the city's center just a few hundred meters from the Rhine. I almost drowned in that river, when I was four. My father used to swim across the Rhine to Oberkassel on the other side with me on his back. (There weren’t any bridges back then...) Later on I went to grade school in Urdenbach and to the “Schloßgymnasium” (high school) in Benrath. I also studied philosophy in Düsseldorf for a couple of semesters. Until now I never shot a single scene in Düsseldorf (aside from a few background shots for the * Toten Hosen video). It was a strange feeling to be standing in the meadows along the river banks again or to shoot at the “Nordfriedhof” cemetery where my parents are buried.
Death doesn’t appear too often in movies, as a person. There are hundreds of devils and lots of Satans, but “Death” is a rare figure. (With the glorious exception of “The Seventh Seal” by Ingmar Bergman. See * dedication.) I didn’t want to just show him as a scary figure. Sure, scary at first, but then he turns out quite tender and not cruel at all. (That’s why I chose Dennis….)
Finn can hardly get any sleep at all and always wakes with a start from his short dreams... How can a film depict dreams? Isn't film already a dream? (That’s expressed well in that popular expression "dream factory" for Hollywood in the 50s.) When we dream, we abandon ourselves in a much more uncontrolled way, full of devotion to our dreams, than we’d ever dare doing in our waking hours. That is exactly where cinema and dreams meet… We can lose ourselves in a different way in a film than we could in any “reality”...
The film carries the dedication:
Dedicated to two men
who died on and and the same day,
while we were preparing this film:
Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni
I was location scouting and working on my script in the little town of * Gangi, in * Sicily. After a few days I knew the whole population, the mayor, the teacher, the doctor etc. And they knew of course what I was doing there. One day I July, the European Film Academy called me. I was told that Ingmar Bergman had died. He had been our founder and first President. That was a sad day to write and prepare a film. The next day I drove into town again and the only policeman stopped me, on the only street crossing there was. I was wondering already if I had driven too fast or something. He gestured for me to roll down the window. And then he leaned into the car and said, with a lot of sorrow and compassion: “And tonight, Michelangelo Antonioni died as well!” I don’t know if such a thing could have happened anywhere else in the world. It felt so strange. There I was writing a film about a photographer who was going to have an encounter with * Death. And the one reference film about a photographer was “Blow Up”, and the one reference film about meeting Death was “The Seventh Seal”! So that night I wrote onto the first page of my script: “This film will be dedicated to Ingmar and Michelangelo!”
E like Effect shots
Some 200 (!) effect shots were produced for PALERMO SHOOTING, due mostly to the high number of dream sequences. I tried to keep the scenes to an absolute minimum where the actors would have to perform before a green screen. Scenes like when * Campino’s world turns upside down where of course shot in the studio. And * Lou Reed was never actually at the corner pub in Neuss...
F like Fresco
Not far from our (temporary) apartment in * Palermo's historical center was the museum Abatellis, and one day I just happened to go inside. That was in the beginning, when I was still exploring the city and developing the first draft of the screenplay. All of a sudden I stood before this huge fresco “Il Trionfo della Morte” that took up the entire wall! I was not prepared at all for what was happening here: The very foundation of my story was laid out in front of me. The apocalyptic figure of * death dominating the picture and slaying his victim with arrows! The (unknown) painter of this mural immortalized in one of the corners! The modernity of this painting struck me. Picasso must have known it, because the horse in the centre of “Guernica” has uncanny similarities with the horse carcass of this 15th century painting! And this extraordinary find in Palermo also defined Flavia’s (until then undecided) occupation: she became the restorer of this very fresco.
We managed to finish the film for Cannes, but just barely. When the opening ceremony of the festival was televised, we were still busy with our sound mix! Too late to get a print ready. What we showed at our gala screening was off a hard disc. Don’t get me wrong: It looked great. It’s totally amazing what they can store today on a memory disc as big as a bar of chocolate! I should have been very happy. At the end of that screening there was a never-ending standing ovation. People were really moved, they weren’t standing on their chairs for no reason. Only I knew in my heart: I wasn’t done. I had finished the film too hastily. This was the first time an audience had seen it, and I had seen it for the first time myself with anybody else than my collaborators, and I felt very clearly that the real film was still somehow hidden, hadn’t really come out yet. So I went back to the editing room for another six weeks, cut out 20 minutes, rewrote and minimized the narration and now I know: This is the film I started out to make. This is my final cut. That’s not so utterly unusual. I took out several minutes from “Paris, Texas”, too, after Cannes, even if it had won the Golden Palm. Same with “Wings of Desire”…
Fabrizio de André
A legendary Italian musician who is often compared to Jacques Brel or Leonard Cohen. His 1984 released “Crêuza de Mä” was a milestone in music history. The song “Quello Che Non Ho” from the “Indian” album is in the film and the album’s famous cover (with no title) can be seen in a close-up in Flavia's apartment. Fabrizio death in 1999 came far too early. I have dedicated the soundtrack to PALERMO SHOOTING to him.
G like Giovanna Mezzogiorno
I came across a beautiful small oil painting of a Madonna “The Annunciation” by Antonello de Messina in the very same Abatellis Museum in * Palermo where the * Fresco “Il Trionfono della Morte” can be found. At first glance it does not look like a religious picture at all. It depicts a young woman obviously deeply distressed, yet she does not appear frightened. The most amazing thing about her is the unusual gesture of her hands which are repelling and inviting at the same time. I was very impressed with that expression, and my first (and only) idea for the casting of Flavia was to find an actress who’d have something in common with this painting. Usually you have all kinds of things in mind: you are looking for a certain age, blonde or dark hair, a tall or a smallish person. This time, I simply wanted to find a woman that embodied the mysterious aura of this painting. So I found Giovanna. It is always good when you have the feeling, this or that person is absolutely right for the part, there is just no alternative on the entire planet – that is how I felt about Giovanna from the very first meeting. And she has not disappointed me in the slightest. Flavia wasn’t an easy role for her to because for much of the film her biography doesn’t go much beyond her occupation. She’s just that mysterious profound presence.
Get Well Soon
German musician whose real name is Konstantin Gropper. He wrote two new songs for the film: “Busy Hope” and “Good Friday”. His great first CD “Rest Now, Weary Head…” brought him to my attention.
Small town with 3,000 inhabitants in the Madonie mountains southeast of * Palermo, about a thousand meters high. When I saw Gangi for the first time, on the way to mount Etna, I right away felt that it would be the location for the closing scenes of the film, already when the silhouette of the town appeared on top of its mountain in the far distance, like some ancient pyramid. The small streets are very steep and practically inaccessible for cars. The lives of the people in Gangi seemed somehow utopian to me: the way the elderly and the young ones were living together, how you see far off into the distance from everywhere in the town, how the medieval townscape was preserved without feeling like a museum...
Nick Cave’s second band, beside the “Bad Seeds”, even if the personnel is overlapping.
H like Hopper
I immediately thought of Dennis as soon as knew I needed an actor to play * death. In casting, the first ideas you have are usually the best ones. The two of us always wanted to have a chance to work together again on a film ever since * “The American Friend”. Dennis usually plays the bad guy, but he shows us a rather tender side in PALERMO SHOOTING. He has simply never played this kind of part in his whole life. I was more than impressed when I saw how deep inside himself Dennis was digging. I had a hunch he had it in him, but I would have never thought he could deliver a performance like that, practically from one day to another. He portrayed exactly the kind of brokenness and gentleness that I had imagined for the part of Frank, mixed with a certain “frankness” (sic) or cruelty. “You’ve got to be cruel to be kind”, to quote Elvis Costello...
In “Palermo Shooting” you see the world from Finn’s subjective point of view, radically so. And when he has his headphones on, we hear his music as loudly as he does. All ambient noises are lost, or muffled. He is walking around with his own soundtrack in his head, so to speak, and with the thoughts in his mind.
I like Irmin Schmidt
He headed up the legendary German band CAN who recorded music in the Seventies and Eighties that changed the sound of Rock and Pop forever. They are still very influential and their records can still be found in music stores all over the world! Irmin and guitarist Michael Karoli (who unfortunately passed away) recorded the music for one of my first films “Alice in the Citied” in 1972. CAN also wrote a great song for “Until the end of the World” and contributed the musical prologue to “Lisbon Story” with a collage of their songs accompanying the road trip straight through Europe, from Frankfurt to Lisbon. PALERMO SHOOTING marked the first time I worked with Irmin on a score. As a trained pianist, composer and conductor, Irmin Schmidt has his roots in classical music and jazz, and of course in Rock music as well.
Iron & Wine
I was introduced to the music of Sam Beam from Florida (who seems to be living a very reclusive life) during the shooting of “Land of Plenty”. My leading actress, Michelle Williams, was listening to Iron & Wine a lot, and after the film she gave me all of their CDs as a present. She felt I couldn’t do without this music. She was quite right…
J like Jovovich
I worked with Milla Jovovich on “The Million Dollar Hotel” in 1999 where she put in a great and highly impressive performance as Eloise. It wasn’t an easy task playing a drug addict in a flop house, opposite the likes of Mel Gibson for instance. We have remained good friends ever since. Milla was well advanced in pregnancy during the shooting in * Düsseldorf – actually she was in her eighth month already. I wrote the part with her in mind, of course, and her daughter Ever was born in LA as we continued shooting in * Palermo…
He is from that large family of Canadian musicians called “Broken Social Scene”. Sarah Polley brought him to my attention. When I listened to his CD “Idols of Exile” for the first time, I knew right away that one song in there had to appear in “Palermo Shooting”. It was “We All Lose One Another” and it started with the line “This is the day of the dead!” It so happens that the song plays in the film on the “Fiesta dei Morti”, All Saints Day in Palermo, a bigger holiday for them than Christmas.
K like Killing
Nobody is killed in this film. But there is some shooting, after all. „To shoot pictures...“ Phillip Winter exclaims in the beginning of „Alice in the Cities”. In other languages the double meaning of “shooting” is lost. The English language is amazingly precise and blunt here…
One little one, after Flavia turns to Finn and admits: “I’m scared!” He asks her: “Of what?” And she answers: “Of Eros and his arrows!” Don’t you agree that Finn deserved a kiss there?
L like Love
There is nothing more to discover, in life like in film, time and time again: Nothing matters that is not borne of love.
Lou has already appeared in “Faraway, So Close!” and in “Soul of a Man”. When I wrote that scene when Finn hears a song from the Jukebox and then has a “vision” of the musician speaking to him, I knew it just had to be Lou. Who else? And what else would Finn select in that Jukebox, after his near accident, if not “Some Kinda Love” by * The Velvet Underground! Well, Lou was supposed to come to * Düsseldorf (or rather the neighboring Neuss) for the scene in the pub “Zum Schwatten Pääd” (The Black Horse). But then he was unable to leave New York in those very days we were scheduled to shoot! So we had to retake half of the “Black Horse” with a green screen in Palermo. It didn’t affect Lou Reeds performance in the least, though. At least he was in Düsseldorf virtually and even became translucent this way!
The Long Winters
“Finally, a band from Seattle again!” I thought when I heard the first CD of The Long Winters a few years ago. And “It’s a Departure” fitted that scene like a glove, when Finn gets into his car, after a long day’s work and lets the music blast through his head. (I have used their music successfully on long car trips myself. There’s something about their “drive”…)
The great Peter Lindbergh was some sort of a “role model” for Finn, at least for the scenes when he is photographing Milla. Peter even makes a cameo appearance in the first photo shoot that takes place in an industrial area in Essen. He is the extra wearing the steelworker outfit who surreptitiously takes a snapshot of Milla…
M like Music
Contemporary popular music, whether it's pop, rock, blues, punk, hip hop, jazz or rap, dares to approach al sorts of themes, (often in bold and unexpected contexts) that are being omitted more and more from the other major popular medium: cinema. Singers don’t seem to be afraid of anything: there are songs about life and death, about God and the devil, praying, faith and disbelief, loneliness and sorrow, wealth and poverty, about time and eternity, justice, freedom, solidarity, about HOW TO LIVE or WHAT we can possibly think today…Just listen to the music by Nick Cave, U2, Porthishead, Bonnie Prince Billy, Coldplay, Radiohead, David Gray, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan anyway, just to name a few. They touch upon some of the most fundamental, existential things. And people are open to it, yes, even grateful! When you read their lyrics you can’t keep from noticing right away that most of these issues would hardly have a chance in today’s movies. Why is it that unlike in music, “cinema" shies away from anything that even remotely deals with “life”, or would help coping with everyday existential issues? Why are movies so averse to risk?
One thing I knew for sure when I decided to shoot a film in * Palermo: It was NOT going to be a film about the Mafia! We had absolutely no contact with these gentlemen. Only indication of any of that was when we ate lunch at the “Focacceria” around the corner and found ourselves sitting with police protection at the tables on Piazza S. Francesco. The owner had testified against the extortionists who has demanded protection money or “pizzo” from him.
German Musician whose real name is Tobias Kuhn. He wrote two pieces for the film. “My Impropriety” and “No Man’s Land”. He latest CD “The Brilliant Masses” is great!
N like Nick Cave
I've known Nick for 25 years now, since his heyday as pre-grunge kind in Berlin. He not only acted in “Wings of Desire” and “Soul of a Man” but also wrote great title songs for “Until the End of the World” or “Faraway, So Close!” He recorded two songs for PALERMO SHOOTING, with his new band * Grinderman: “Dream (Song for Finn)” and “Song for Frank”.
O like Ohler, Norman
A German novelist I got to know many years ago when his first book “Die Quotenmaschine” came out - it was the world's first internet novel if I remember correctly (and Wikipedia’s entry is correct). Then he wrote “Mitte” and I was reading his third book “Ponte City” when I had finished writing my screenplay (alone) and thought it might be a good idea to take on a co-author so that I wouldn't be left completely alone with the alterations to the screenplay and the dialogues in * Palermo. Norman was a great support, especially with the long and difficult dialogue between Frank and Finn
P like Palermo
All my films are driven by a strong sense of place. Places have always been the co-stars, they often carried the story, or brought it to life. Palermo is also such a catalyst. One the one hand, it is a grotesque and noisy place, on the other grand and delicate. Deeply wounded but still hanging on strongly. Provocatively honest and direct just like its citizens. You wouldn’t call it “beautiful” right away, but then it hits you when you least expect it with breathtaking secrets.
The third and long-awaited CD entitled “Third” was just released when I was editing the film. The song “The Rip” blew my mind. I tried it with Finn walking through Palermo the first time. That was magical! Of course, it is sung by * Beth Gibbons. She’s simply my favorite singer of contemporary music.
For a long time already I wanted to make a film about a photographer. No other contemporary profession is so much confronted with the issues of what is still “real” or “true” today. As each and every image can be broken down to its very (digital) atoms, and as the categories “original” and “fake” cease to exist, each picture poses the question anew, who’d still want to believe in its derivation from the truth, and if so, what it should mean. The digital worlds we are all dealing with these days explain the loss of reality many people are suffering from, increasingly. What should we take seriously if basically everything can be manipulated …
Q like Quattro Canti
Square in the center of historical Palermo. The north-south and east-west axes meet here at the “Four Corners”. The Via Maqueda was constructed in the 16th century. The square is surrounded by four mirror-image baroque buildings with four fountains representing the four seasons. Finn falls asleep at one of these fountains on his first foray into the city and Frank’s first arrow hits him here.
R like Rainbow
It appeared in the sky at a difficult moment in the shoot (in the scene with Finn and Letizia * Battaglia) and stayed until the scene was wrapped. We were all exhausted, the interplay of English and Italian wasn’t going so well, it was drizzling the whole time… But then the rainbow showed up and took care of the scene.
Legendary singer from * Palermo, born in 1927 and died in 1990. As the daughter of a traveling salesmen she grew up poor, but traveled throughout Sicily in her childhood. Her later life was characterized by poverty and humiliation. She worked as a cleaning lady and performed other unskilled labor to make ends meet and provide for her children. Rosa Balistreri sang with a powerful, at times coarse voice. Her repertoire extended from lullabies to folk songs from all the regions in Sicily to poems from Ignazio Buttitta. She interpreted texts about poverty, imprisonment and the Mafia. (Thank you Wikipedia…)“Quannu Moru” is about what she would want her friends to do after her death...
S like Sicily
Quoting Goethe: “Palermo, 17th April 1787. Italy without Sicily does not make a picture in the soul: Here is the key to everything!”
Films are first and foremost supposed to tell stories. Sure. Inside those parameters all sorts of “subjects” are allowed to be approached as well. The only problem is that most stories are quite self-centered and have a tendency to push everything else aside. All the stuff you have to show in the course of a film just to satisfy the dramatic construction and to keep the storyline gong. But films can do so much more than just transport a plot! However, these days they are mainly produced using formulas and recipes, so the space to experiment and to try things out freely is diminishing. I was sick and tired of having to play it safe!
I rather wanted to make a film like Rock 'n Roll again (please refer to * Music) – bold and daring, adventurous without fitting a bill, without being afraid to “say something”, without forethought or scheming. "Again?", yes, again. I have always done much better depicting a mood, or finding out about a Zeitgeist, secrets or issues, when I was free to work without a screenplay that was already totally fixed. That’s how I shot “Alice in the Cities”, “Kings of the Road”, “State of Things” or “Lisbon Story”. Even for “Wings of Desire” a finished screenplay only existed at the end of the last day of shooting. And “Paris,Texas” was started with half a screenplay… That is where I wanted to pick up with PALERMO SHOOTING, by exploring once again the terrain of a character and his story – not knowing it fully in advance. I wanted to tell a story without knowing how it would end, to know my subject and my topics without having to peg them to a story from the beginning.
It’s very tough to write * music for a film that is already loaded with it. (Finn’s * headphones…) But “Palermo Shooting” just needed a score, especially towards the end, when Finn is giving up his habit of listening to his own soundtrack. The score had to be very sparse in the beginning and then slowly take over and actually carry the film in the end. * Irmin Schmidt found an impressive way to solve this task. (With a little help from Johann Sebastian …) The entire score was recorded in his studio in the South of France. The solo artists are Markus Stockhausen on the trumpet, Serge Ferrara on accordion and Ulrike Schäfer on cello. René Tinner was the congenial sound engineer and Justus Köhnke did all the programming. And nothing could have happened without the loving care and coordination of Irmin’s wife Hildegard!
That wonderful song “Let us know” is by her. She and her husband Michel are among my oldest friends. An eternity ago, I wrote the screenplay to the film “The Scarlet Letter” in their guest house in Stuttgart. At that time, Sibylle recorded a number of songs (among them one called “Wim”!) in her living room, with a single microphone, on a good old reel to reel tape machine, just accompanying herself on guitar. You can actually see Sibylle and her daughter Julia at the end of “Alice in the Cities”. She’s standing on the ferry boat and singing one of those songs. Anyway, I used to listen to them on a crummy audio cassette, and never forgot them over the years. Sibylle did not write other songs any more, as far as I know, she had no musical career whatsoever, they moved to America, the kids grew up and I only heard of her sporadically. But I still listened to that old tape every now and then. Those songs had something timeless and unique. I kept that audio cassette like a treasure. Now, one day, two years ago, I stand in front of a record store in Chicago, “Reckless Records”, and what do I see: an LP with a young woman on the cover who looks strangely familiar. It’s entitled “Sibylle Baier”. I storm into the store, listen to the record, “Color Green”, and on it are all those songs I know for 35 years! Each one more beautiful than the other, and none of them has aged in any way. Actually they sound so much better than on my Dolby A (!) audio cassette from 1972! On the back of the record I read the story: Sibylle’s son Robert (by now a solo musician, producer, singer, songwriter, formerly with “Pearls at Swine” and “Melodrome”...) found those old tapes of his mother’s, listened to them, cleaned them up and restored them digitally, and offered them to a record company specialized in folk music. They love it, release the album and Sibylle becomes a cult hero of the new folk movement in America. (“The female Leonard Cohen” I read somewhere on the Internet…) She herself only finds out about her late discovery and her belated career when the record is already out in the stores. So, totally enthused about her late career, I buy lots of LPs ndCDs and give hem to all my friends (proud of “my song” of course, “Wim”) and congratulate Sibylle. She laughs about it all and just worries that now they expect her to make a NEW album, 35 years later! And working on “Palermo Shooting” I figure I have to push her a bit, so I ask her to write a song for the film. Which she does, recorded by Robby, of course. Actually she writes TWO equally beautiful songs, which leaves me with a very painful choice.
I felt I had to tell you that story!
Most of the times you would not think about the soundtrack before shooting a movie. You already have enough on your mind anyways: finding the right motives, casting the actors, setting the budget and shooting schedule and then sticking to it. So why wrack one’s brains with tomorrow’s problems? You normally start thinking about the * music while you are already in the cutting process. But not with PALERMO SHOOTING. Here, from the beginning on, the music was part of it all, even more: it was the base, and already existed before there even was a screenplay. Ultimately it was the reason I made up this character of the photographer Finn and this whole story.
Before I had at all written one page of the * screenplay, I sent a text to my colleagues, so they would have an idea of what was going through my mind.
“Our hero, the photographer Finn, is always listening to music, wherever he can: while taking pictures, driving, walking around, while working on his pictures on his computer... In the pocket of his shirt he keeps his PDA, cell phone and mp3 player in one, with his personal all-time-favorite 10.000 songs. Playing them in random mode, he never knows which one will be next. Like most of our contemporaries Finn suffers from an overkill of information and not enough time on the other hand. His music keeps him on the ground, helps him concentrating and keeping the world away from him. The songs help Finn, staying with himself. His life gets a pertinent shock and he knows that it won’t go on like before. “Everything has to change!” But how? Sometimes you need a little help from your friends... You probably know the situation just as well as I do: Some music is running in the background, your mind is somewhere completely different, and then suddenly it goes through your body like lightning: the words of the lyrics are expressing exactly what is moving you at the moment and what (yet unspoken) is going through your head!”
So the movie started with this idea. Music was to play a whole different part than with other movies...
T like Tattoos
It’s all authentic, like * Campino himself.
German musician whose real name is Thomas Hanreich. Tom wrote, produced and largely performed the music for “Land of Plenty” four years ago. His album “Gods and Monsters” is still one of the most unrecognized CDs of late (German) rock history. Thom wrote two songs for PALERMO SHOOTING: “Beds in the East” und “Ever Loving”.
Die Toten Hosen
Hard to translate the name of * Campino’s band. “Dead Trousers” doesn’t mean a thing… If something is “tote Hose” it means it’s all washed out, drained, emptied, useless. There’s also a notion of “deadlock” in the expression. Anyway, all the band members are in the film – not just Campino. Fans will have to keep their eyes pealed for Breiti, Andi, Kuddel, Vom and even their manager Jochen Hülder...
U like Udo Samel
The funky banker on the Rhine meadow who is looking after sheep for relaxation. Udo also acted in “Far Away, So Close!”. He is a real treasure! The scene is definitely one of my favorites! We teased him by affectionately calling his character the “Traffic-light man” because in his costume with the hat and coat he looked strikingly like the little figure on East-German traffic lights.
V like Velvet Underground
Their classic song “Some Kinda Love” is playing on the jukebox shortly before * Lou Reed appears before Finn who’s in quite a rough state after his near-accident. This song actually saved my life once, quite a while ago. But that is a long story…
W like water
Not exactly Finn’s favorite element. In my biography for the character he grew up in England, with his mother. And as she had a phobia of water, little Finn never learned to swim… That was never an issue when he was a boy. It never bothered him, until a few weeks before the film started. At some stupid party, where everybody was drunk, somebody started pushing the girls into the Rhine river. And all of a sudden Finn was under water, too… Well, he was pulled out, but he then decided to learn to swim.
X like Xenophobia
Thank God * Palermo is not inflicted with xenophobia. Too many “foreigners” have ruled here and left their marks: The Greeks, the Arabs, The Normans, the French, the Spaniards and the Germans... The latest wave of immigration is coming from Africa. And from China! Entire streets are now in Chinese hands. Real estate deals are conducted using cash only. Apparently the Chinese have little faith in cashless transactions...
Y like Yearning
Finn thinks to himself, after he met * Lou Reed’s ghost in that bar in * Düsseldorf: “I have such a yearning for change. For everything to change, if you ask me…”
The last word spoken in the film.
Z like „Zollverein“
In the city of Essen, not far from * Düsseldorf, we found on the grounds of the former steelworks “Zollverein”, (now declared a world cultural heritage site by Unesco,) the amazing house that Finn is living and working in, his “cube”. We just had to put the river Rhine into his bedroom window, which is a piece of digital cake today. The architects of this unique building are the Japanese Kazuyo Sejima and her partner Ruye Nishizawa.