In times where we should have a politically correct attitude, there is still a lot of discrimination and violence of all kinds within environments that we should feel safe in. About emotional and verbal violence I had the chance to discuss with Austrian filmmaker Gertraud Schwartz who had the world premiere at One World Romania with her documentary movie entitled The Insult.
Judy Florescu: How did you take the decision to do the documentary The Insult?
Gertraud Schwartz: One of the big reasons was that I was working at the facility at that time as a teacher for the media. With young people in puberty it is very common that they get a lot of insults. There was a girl who was excluded from the group of children and she felt very sad. It was very difficult for her to be in this group. These were children who stopped school and they were making some kind of job training. They also came from different background and I think the negative things that they experienced at home they also brought them there and they also let them out sometimes. They were not able to solve these problems on their own. The psychologist said that we should not interfere immediately, maybe they could sort that out by themselves, but that was not possible for them. Only when they started to talk with the psychologist and with each other they were able to solve their problems. All of a sudden she was not such an outsider anymore she was included in the group. So that was a very big point when I decided that I wanted to do this documentary. And I wanted to work with young people, but they were not prepared to talk in front of camera. For them this insult just happened and they were glad that it just passed and they did not want to speak about it anymore.
Judy Florescu: Maybe through their story they could have helped others.
Gertraud Schwartz: Yes. In my film there are people who sometimes talk about things that happened in their youth. I think when you are older you and you have reflected on your life more, it is easier to talk about such things. So the initial point was more from the point of view of young people. In my film people speak right in front of the camera, nothing is hidden. It is more important to not always hide the people. It is very difficult in society to talk about those insults that happened to you. So, you are the victim and but not being able to talk about it, you are victimized again. So I thought it would be good for people to get accustomed to speak publicly about it, because then you can process your stuff and it get easier on you. Of course the one thing the young people would not want to talk about it is the reflection of the insult in society.
Judy Florescu: You have your own film company. How did you start it?
Gertraud Schwartz: I started to make documentaries inspired from a friend of mine who used to work in Gana. She was writing her thesis at the university, which was about women who were paiting their clay houses. I was studying visual media at the time. So I started to do a movie about women in Gana. This was my first movie. The second movie was about female farmers in Austria that run their farms without husbands. I had 5 women in the movie that were portrayed. It was not so easy to find them.
Judy Florescu: How long did it take to shoot the movie The Insult?
Gertraud Schwartz: It took me quite long because I started before my child was born and then I took a break to raise my child. The concept was there before my child was born and the movie was done after two years and a half. With all the editing I think it took four years and a half.
Judy Florescu: How do you have the patience to work that long?
Gertraud Schwartz: Of course, it is a bit difficult moneywise. I am someone who likes to work on it and it is hard for me to stop, to finish. I think it is because the star sign. I never give up.
Judy Florescu: How do you manage to stay motivated?
Gertraud Schwartz: I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just very interested in things, in topics. I hardly ever give up if I am interested in topics. I start working on it and get more interested and start finding another piece and so on. For me it is rather hard to give up on something. It depends maybe on what. I see it as a good thing. I’m working on a new movie I hope I get funding for. It’s about highly intelligent women.
Judy Florescu: Why did you choose to focus on females in your documentaries?
Gertraud Schwartz: I only want to focus on females because I think that still in society that women are seen as less intelligent than men, in general, unfortunately. And on this topic I’ve been working for over 10 years already. I tried to get funding for it once.
Judy Florescu: What is this process of getting funds?
Gertraud Schwartz: As a filmmaker you can apply for a grant at the Film Fund of Austria. My concept was a bit different back then and they said that they were there for funding art films and my concept was more in the direction of a TV movie. Since I have a child now, I want to make this movie more than ever now. I think is a big shame that such a movie does not exist by now. I want to make a movie about women and how they engage into different parts of life. I already have some Austrian women that want to take part.
Judy Florescu: What is the subject of the movie a personal choice?
Gertraud Schwartz: I grew up at the countryside and I had no problems at home, but some years in school were difficult. My best friend left and for one year I was a bit of an outsider too where I could not really connect to anyone in the class. But then after one year, the classes changed and I had a best friend again. When we had the 30-year reunion some of the other colleagues said that it was hard for them in that class too. There was one dominant group there and they were saying who was cool and who was uncool. It is not that you were treated badly all the time, but the insults fell into your subconscious. That really affects you when you were young. You think that the other people are better than you. Actually you should not have that feeling especially when you are young. It might also come from way back then that I wanted to work on this subject.