VATER will be a feature-length documentary film about my father (German: Vater) who was absent from my life since my parents got divorced when I was 3 years old. Ever since that breakup he was like a phantom; I knew of and about him, but he was never there, and there was no real interaction between us, apart from a handful of long-distance calls.
After almost 30 years of living abroad, he has returned to Europe and even lives quite close to me in Berlin. I am suddenly confronted with not only the reality of his existence but also his close proximity. So how do I deal with this new situation?
I somehow have no hard feelings towards him. But also feel awkward and insecure because I don't know this person, my father, my co-creator, at all. I have no idea who he actually is… and what moves him, what drives him, what scares him?
Half of me is of him and I feel a deep longing to understand him - and thus also myself. We are now in the process of gently getting to know each other.
The juxtaposition of sensing a deep connection and yet complete asymmetry of experience is very confusing - but we are both doing our best, and I am grateful that we can both approach each other with an open heart and are genuinely curious, open and generous with each other.
I don’t call him Papa, but I do refer to him as my father. He is not my Papa, but I long to understand this man who co-created me, whose genes I carry inside of me and who my mama was so in love with three decades ago. Now is the chance to learn about and from each other.
He lived quite a life since the breakup with my mom, and has now agreed to share his wild stories with me. With these puzzle pieces from the past I can then hopefully fill in the gaps of his absense during my upbringing - and make sense of his present being.
In intimate conversation-like interview sessions he will share excerpts from his life with me, while I film him.
Of course I carry my mom’s pain inside of me, and I will never forget how he didn't take responsibility and didn't support her and me in all those years. But I want to heal our relationship and transform this pain, as I myself am slowly transitioning into parenthood and want to have an open clear heart for my partner, devoid of fear and projections.
The project is about forgiveness, about radical vulnerability, about openness, and about love. Between a daughter and her VATER.