Synopsis: Colorful balloon dresses, long party nights in Berlin’s trendy clubs with drag queen Nina Queer and erotic evenings on the dining table – this is the chaotic relationship of the unequal couple of Ernst and Tobias
I’ve heard you’ve been traveling a lot these days… I’m not even sure where you are! Are you in Hawaii now? What country were you last in?
Yes I am in hawaii now and i´m completely overwhelmed. On my first day the festival staff took me and another filmmaker to a tour throughout the island. It was like I was holding my breath every twenty minutes when I saw something new and exciting. Like this place called “From here to eternity” where they filmed all these movies. I felt like I´ve landed in paradise. Or the ranch where they filmed the “Lost” Show or the movie “Soul Surfer”. Some of the most beautiful places I´ve ever been to. And coming to hawaii was always one of my biggest dreams. I mean, Bette Midler grew up here and she is one of my alltime favorites.
How do you feel Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival differs from the other film festivals you’ve been to so far?
The festival is very unique. First of all it´s because it´s on this breathtaking island and you get to see all this breathtaking things. But second and much more important is that the festival itself is pretty amazing. Brent knows excactly what he´s doing and he´s working so hard to make sure that the visiting filmmakers having the time of their lifes here. Every single member of the festival is so friendly and supportive. Their warmth and their kindness and their knowledge blew me away. And the media attention that we´ll get from it is incredible. I had two interviews at a tv station and a radio station and both of them were such a wonderful experience. The third thing that striked me was meeting all of the other filmmakers and actors. Whether it was the gifted Patrik Ian Polk, the amazing Anthony Meindl or the unbelievable charming Larisa Oleynik, we all got to know each other a little bit and became friends. will never forget this island and I´m very sure that I´m coming back soon. And, by the way, we just won “best feature film” here, so it´s like the cherry on top of it. I know I´m sounding like I´m in a commercial or I´m doing a ” oh my god they´re all so wonderful” kind of “Movie Making of” feature, but this is my experience here and I´m very enthusiastic to talk about that.
In Men to Kiss, you play a respectable banker in his ’30s, sort of conservative. How similar are you to Earnest in real life? What’s the major difference you’ve noticed in transitioning out of one’s 20s?
Earnest is quiete different than me. I´m a very open and welcoming person; always curious and happy to experience new things and meet new people. I´m not very straight-laced also. Whenever I thought my life is going into a very specific direction, it turned out that it´s suddelnly changing course and heading to a totally different route. I was an actor for ten year and than all of a sudden I was a producer with a lot responsibility, and a lot of stuff happened to me that I was not aware of. In contrast than Earnest in the beginning of the movie I´m up for anything. I can be man and I can be a child, I even can be a diva. But a nice and friendly One, I guess (laughing).
You know I have a very high energy and when I was in my 20´s that was not always a good thing. I was rushing myself into finding out who I am and what it was that I wanna be. I coudn´t see clearly at this time in my life. You know, I was an actor in a city with hundreds of actors who were exactly like me. I had a big city life, lots of fun, lots of sex, lots of friends and lots of missed opportunities. I totally run through my 20´s and when I finally reached 30 and I didn´t knew who I was at all.
When I realized that was a very frightening experience for me so I kind of hit the handbrake and stopped. And suddenly something wonderful happend and I saw everything from a very different angle. The making of this movie and meeting Udo, who is now one of my best friends and my production partner, was the best experience in my life. It felt so good having a whole team behind us. And I never knew before that I would ever love to lead a team. But the greatest things that this very first moviemaking experience teached me is that I love to be a leader. And now I´m so much more real and full of live as I was in my 20´s.
There’s a lot of physical humor in this film, screwball stuff that almost feels vintage. Were there any films or performances that inspired you in this role?
You know I grew up watching all these screwball comedies. “Bringing up baby” is one of my alltime favourites. The character of Earnest is a little bit like Cary Grants character. He starts of as someone who is orderly and follows rules but as soon as you pair him with a crazy person and let crazy things happen to him you can see his chaotic side too. Also I´m a big fan of physical comedy in the likes of Lucille Ball or Sandra Bullock. Udo and me had a lot of fun to bring these characters to life. I even wish my character would have more slapstick scenes, but, you know, you have to be true to your characters and Earnest is not exactly that type of a guy. You can always stretch a character but you can never break it. And to show the audience real life characters was one our biggest goals.
Men to Kiss is also somewhat of a love letter to Berlin. For those of us who’ve never been, tell us about gay life there.
Berlin is something special. It´s the most open and welcoming town I know. Once you´ve come to berlin you´re always coming back. In this city you can be whatever you want to be, dress however you want to dress and love whoever you want to love. There´s a a time and a bar for everything. We have no curfews, you can party the whole night. But also you can do all this cultural stuff. So whether you´re a party person in your 20´s or a more calm down person in your 30´s or 40´s or beyond that, you will have the fun of your life there. One special thing about berlin is you´re allowed to do everything that you´re not allowed to in other cities. You drink alcohol on the street, nobody cares if you have sex on the street or if you´re dancing naked on a parade. I think the combination of being very sexual and at the same time being very warm and welcoming is what I love the most about berlin.
So, if given the chance, anyone in the world, past or present, who are some men you’d like to kiss?Recently I would love to kiss Ryan Reynolds. Oh no, I wouldn´t kiss him, I would never let him go;-) In the past I would have kissed Rock Hudson, James Dean and Sean Connery in his “Bond” years. And right now I wanna kiss someone very special who I miss very much. Beside of that I would love to experience how the Hawaiian men kiss (laughing again).
TONIGHT, June 03 @ 7:45pm MEN TO KISS
HRFF23 WINNER of BEST FEATURE FILM
Plays with HALF-SHARE (Alec Mapa)
Tix available at Doris Duke Theatre (900 Kinau Street Honolulu HI, 96814) or online.
For all ticket holders there will be a 615pm FOOD & BEVERAGE reception preceding the screening by GINIBERRIES with menu inspired by “MEN TO KISS.”