ND/NF Discovery: Karl Markovics’ “Breathing” (Austria)

Breathing
Breathing is Karl Markovics' directorial debut, but you may know him as the star of The Counterfeiters, winner of the 2008 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Breathing tells the story of a young prisoner working at a local morgue in what Variety calls a "perfectly formed slice of stylized social realism." Don't miss Breathing at New Directors/New Films today (March 29) and Saturday (March 31). [buy tickets]

Describe your film Breathing to someone who hasn't seen it.
It's a film about redemption and about the power of life. The hero of my story is a young guy without any skills or sense for living. Step by step he learns skills and gets a sense for his existence.

What are you most excited to do while you're in NYC?
I want to have lunch with Martin Scorsese and dinner with Woody Allen.

What would you be doing if you weren't making films?
Driving a truck.

Which parts of the filmmaking process do you enjoy the most? The least?
I love shooting - it's a magic moment. I hate writing - most of the time it's boring hell.

You were an actor before making this first film. What made you shoot your first film as a director? The desire to tell your own story? To direct actors? Or maybe the influence of some directors you met…?
I played my first role at the age of 5. It was at a thanksgiving ceremony on the churchyard of the small village I grew up. The play was based on a fairy tale called Hans im Glück (Lucky Jack). The story is about a guy who gets a nugget of gold for seven years of hard work. On his way home he trades the nugget off for a horse, then the horse for a cow, the cow for a pig, the pig for a goose and finally the goose for a grindstone. The grindstone falls into a well, and at last he arrives at his mother's place just as he went away from her seven years ago. I played the main role of Lucky Jack. It was a big success and afterwards at the tombola I won an orange toilet brush. I was happy and thought acting would be my future. Four years later, I saw Walt Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice on TV. I was totally fascinated by the story, found out that it was based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and thought that directing would be my future. I decided to make a dramatized version of the poem, so I cast three fellow pupils from primary school (my two best friends and the first girl I was in love with) and started rehearsing on the schoolyard. It turned out to be a complete miss. After three days my actors got bored and on the forth day they did not show up at all. So as you can see my comeback took me almost forty years.

Breathing screens March 29 and March 31. [buy tickets]

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