Starring Bibiana Beglau and designer Michael Sontag
Fashion designer Michael Sontag and actress Bibiana Beglau have a very special relationship – to simply say that they are close is a misrepresentation of their bond. Yes – they are of course very close – but there is so much more to their friendship and that was the starting point for the Secret Garden video project.
This short film is an attempt to shed some light on this – looking at them through the lens of filmmaker Per Zennström. In the film the two protagonists are merging into one – Bibiana is, in fact, stealing Michael’s voice and becoming him – and vice versa.
In an enchanted Berlin ruin, the two characters engage in a mysterious cat and mouse game – who is really who? … and who is only pretending to be the other one?
Bibiana Beglau is one of Germany’s most celebrated actresses with numerous awards and movies behind her. Since the beginning of her career, she has worked with the directors responsible for transforming contemporary German theater and cinema. We are very honored that she choose to accept to participate in our fashion film project.
The movement of Michael’s designs is a direct result of his unique way of working and being present in the moment – a way of approaching work that he and Bibiana have in common. Presence and fluidity… Michael’s work resembles a sculptor more than a painter. He never draws any sketches beforehand – preferring to drape the fabrics directly on his models. This is perhaps why motion and fluidity are words that constantly pop up when people are talking about his work.
“Fashion designer Michael Sontag doesn’t sketch, draw or otherwise put his ideas down on paper before getting to work on his designs. Instead he intuitively and very much hands-on starts draping the fabric directly on his model – very much like a sculptor working with steel, glass or stone. It’s his hands that are doing the work, manipulating the raw materials. The shapes are born directly from underneath his hands moving over a body and it’s this approach that leads to the fluidity, intimacy, and movement of his pieces.”
Beauty director Thorsten Weiss approached this project with an idea about a very minimalistic and pure look for Bibiana. He gave Bibiana big soft curls and luminous skin which aligned itself beautifully to the mysterious undercurrent of the movie
“Salt and Silver on your tongue
I steal his face, his lips, his hair – I even take his voice!
I like that very much… Wearing someone else’s clothes – or skin…
His skin is hard – like glass.
I can see my own reflection in it…
Night Sky… Night Birds…
Black and blue…
She’s dark, dark, dark… and very dark!”
This fashion film project owes a lot to the hauntingly beautiful and mysterious location where we shot. Dirk Moritz from the Moritz Gruppe stumbled upon the abandoned three-storey building – still in deep sleep – located behind a courtyard in the former communist east of the city. It has a grand ballroom, a 300 square meter theater, wall paintings and meters-high stuccoed ceilings designed by famous Berliner businessman/architect Oscar Garbe. This space is currently undergoing careful renovation and will be transformed into a mixed-use/public/private space. We’re grateful for the great support of the Moritz Gruppe who very generously let us access this space for the production. We even borrowed the name of this former cabaret who had stood virtually sealed and forgotten ever since the end of WWII.
“Right in the heart of east Berlin, an old cabaret theater, dating back to 1905, has been discovered under 30 tons of rubble. The cabaret venue was masterminded in 1905 by German architect Oscar Garbe and was originally Fritz Schmidt’s restaurant and party hall, before becoming the Hummingbird party hall and cabaret in 1919. The building became a popular entertainment venue in the 1920’s, but by 1930, it was closed down, possibly due to the Nazi crackdown on Germany’s thriving theater scene. The building was used as a dumping ground for garbage during World War II, which gradually destroyed the theater’s beautiful interior architecture. After the war was over, the historic building, which was situated in Gartenstrasse 6, continued to deteriorate and was never repaired. The building’s delicate frescoes, curving staircases and once mirrored walls, fell into complete ruin.”
Written & Directed by Per Zennström
Produced by Kulturspace
2nd. unit: Anka Bardeleben
Hair & make-up: Thorsten Weiss
Music by Valentin Sosnitskiy
Additional audio by DigiFishMusic
Special thanks to Helder Suffenplan
With the support of Moritz Gruppe