How did you come up with the project for MORGEN?
In 2007, I was on the Christmas holidays in my hometown of Salonta. It’s a small town, on the Romanian-Hungarian border. It was a cold winter and I was just siting inside reading and stuff. I like to read local papers when I am there. And I read a small news that said “that two turkish emigrants trying to cross illegaly where caught by the border police in a freezing canal..”
This small paragraph stucked with me for sometime. This because my hometown is so quiet and the people are so quiet and nice. I started imagining a story that takes place there and a relation between a local common guy meeting an emmigrant. I was just playing with the ideea. But slowly it turned out to be a script.
I like to start a story like that. With the feeling that something strange can come from improvising with real life. It’s like in the Italian Neorealism. They use to write scripts out of some short newspapers articles.
I think there’s a mysterious and nice link between the New Romanian Cinema and the Italian Neorealism.
After that initial ideea, it took me a year to research the seen and unseen world of illegal immigrants arround my hometown and to decide wich people and places I wanted to put on screen.
But in the end, what really starts me when I chose a subject is the initial feelings and images that I get reading something or seeing something. There are images that stay with me for some time.
For MORGEN, it was the images of a man fishing alone, seen from behind and a old farmahouse on an isolated field near Salonta.
How do you aproach the illegal immigration issue?
The illegal immigration is an unseen world. It’s on the news all over the world. But the fact is that nobody really cares about those individuals and nobody really understands their problems. So it was a challenge to talk about this. For example the conversations between the romanian guy and the turkish guy is shown as real as posible. They don’t understand verbally but have a kind of active communication. Also the scenes with the Border Police were long researched. I wanted to reach another level in talking about borders.
The borders between people and between countries.
I wanted to touch some critical conditions about illegal immigration also.The fact that there are so many people heading from East to West, it’s a period of world history and it can’t really be stopped by two policemen in a small town in Romania…
But I didn’t really want to make a film about ilegal immigration. The film is about a curious friendship that grows between an immigrant and a local guy. It’s a universal story I guess.
Also I wanted to show an immigration story not from the immigrant point of view but from the point of view of the people he meets on his way.
So basically the whole film talks about NELU, the fisherman who catches the immigrant.
How would you define the main character, NELU?
NELU is a forty years old lonely guy. Like in westerns, he is solitary, not too talkative and brave in his own way.
NELU is the man you will find in families around that part of Romania. He’s created from the people I know in my family and friends. I wanted him to live on screen and give me that feeling that he’s from my hometown.
Also the relation with his wife is very important for me. I wanted to catch the realtions husband-wife that you can find in those parts of Romania. The wife is somehow the boss of the house. The husband accepts this in silence but makes his way without asking his wife. It’s only human I guess with a touch of my hometown people.
Why did you call your film MORGEN?
I think this title concentrate all the meanings I wanted to transmit. And that is very hard to put into words. It’s also about how it sounds. I like titles to sound the way the film is. The title somehow should not explain the film but make it more expresive and mysterious.
Also, MORGEN is one of the few words I know in German. That’s from satellite TV in the 90…
How did you chose your actors? How do you work with them?
This film is my first feature and I wanted it to be also personal and part of the adventure in making films. The story takes place in a nowhere country far from the big cities. So, I choose to work with actors that you couldn’t see on screen in Romania, yet. They are actors from small cities in the Western part of Romania. It took us a long casting to find them I may say. They all enjoyed playing the parts. It was also a real joy for me to work with them and to discover the rhythm and touch of the film.
The main actors are Andras Hathazi and Yilmaz Yalcin.
The first is a real great theatre actor from Cluj.
He was very enthusiastic in playing and discovering the character.
Yilmaz Yalcin is a turkish actor, coming from Instanbul. It was a real adventure finding him, bringing him ito Romania and working with him. He is very inteligent and daring. When I chose him I told him that I have two conditions: first that he should leave his beard to grow for the next month and second that he should not read the script before shooting. He agreed.
That is one of the things I enjoy. Making up scenes that tht actors rehearse just in the day of shooting. I like that adrenaline. I don’t think that you have to learn the text before and rationalize it too much. It’s jus like in life. We don’t know our ”lines” by heart. We just talk. Sometime we don’t even think too much, so to say…
Also I really like to work with amateurs. I did it as much as I could in my shorts and now in MORGEN.
Some characters in the film are guys from my hometown that fit the roles…
Why did you use only “one shots”?
Ibelieve that filming and editing can be experienced in many ways.
I chose to shoot only one shots because I wanted to catch that sense of inevitability. In the sense that, I like to think that things can happen on screen just for one time and the camera should be true to this. You can not turn it on and off because you “will lose the moment of action”.
Also what attracts me in one shots is the thing that many actions can happen in the same shots and you can have different mise-en-scenes in the same frame.
When scouting with the DOP we are trying to find the exact place, exact direction in which we will point the camera when filming. We try to find the perfect spot and then that’s it.
Also we can get inspired by light and landscape in the day of shooting. And we trust our instincts and change if necessary.