Directors of Oh Boy, Persepolis and Cinema Paradiso among those to join omnibus film; Ai Weiwei shooting remotely this weekend from Beijing.

Jan Ole Gerster (Oh Boy), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Pardiso) and Oren Moverman (The Messenger) are among the filmmakers attached to direct episodes for the Berlin I Love You omnibus film.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will shoot his eight-minute segment via distance directing from Beijing this weekend.

Speaking by Skype from his studio in Beijing, the world renowned artist explained that his contribution is “based on the experiences of a newcomer - my son Ai Lao - coming to Berlin [the six-year-old and his mother have been living there for the past six months] and the way we communicate these days through virtual digital reality”.

“I am not using the film to help myself,” he stressed. “It is more about people being apart, a similar condition for so many in the world because of wars, political or economic reasons. But they can still communicate through art, film and the Internet.“

As the artist still cannot travel outside of China - as he is “suspected of crimes” by Chinese police including bigamy and illicit exchange of foreign currency - producer Claus Clausen will be connected on set via Skype to the artist as the film’s co-director during the shooting at locations in Berlin from February 7-9.

“The filming will also be screened in real time on monitors on the south side of Potsdamer Platz and also show Ai giving directions from his studio,“ said Clausen, who had also served as an executive producer on the 2010 omnibus New York, I Love You.

An unlikely bedfellow in the story, which has been written by Wang Fen, Ai Lao’s mother, is German star Til Schweiger who is currently riding high in the German box-office charts with Honey In The Head.

The other segments for the $8m English-language co-production between Edda Reiser’s Walk on Water, Josef Steinberger’s Rheingold Film, and Emmanuel Benbihy, founder of the Cities of Love franchise, will each be shot over two or three days in September-October 2015 in Berlin. The aim of the producers is to premiere the completed film at the 2016 Berlinale.

Ai added that he had been told by the Chinese authorities that his passport would be returned to him “very soon”, but he had heard this promise on several occasions over the past four years.

However, he was “optimistic” that he will indeed get his passport back during 2015 and was looking forward to “having a chance of a walk with my son in Berlin”.

To date, there have been Cities of Love omnibus films dedicated to Paris, New York and Rio de Janeiro.

Dr. Martin Blaney
Screen International - Correspondent for Germany, Austria and Switzerland
Krumme Str. 31, D-10627 Berlin
Tel: +49 30 318 063 91
Skype: blaneym1