A team of doctors travels to Myanmar for medical intervention. Every year, for one week, since 2009 they operate on children suffering mainly from orofacial clefts or burnings. The preconditions are different to western medicine countries so they face difficulties and circumstances inside and outside the emergency room. Humanity. is the documentary film about the team's 2016 mission.
Interview with Director/Producer Frederik Wiegel & Thilo Jäger
Main image: A mother carrying her child with an orofacial cleft.
Pic-Credits: Thilo Jaeger & Frederik Wiegel
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
First of all we never set out to produce a 30 minute documentary. When Dr. Julia Berkei told us about the project and about the people of Myanmar there was no choice. She spoke with so much love and passion about it, that we just had to go there. Filmmaking is a lot about passion and so we were passionate about Humanity. from its very beginning.
Myanmar is a country that not many people know of even though it is open.
So making a movie in this country is something, that the audience has just not yet seen and we had the chance to bring back a movie with a story that has not been told this way.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
We watched a lot of documentaries before going to Myanmar and tried to find out how other filmmakers deal with similar topics. We discovered that there is almost the same concept in every documentary dealing with children in developing nations. There was always this one little child that is in a little worse situation than all the others so filmmakers tend to pick and promote it just to catch more attention.
We always felt that there are scenes scripted or staged, so we made a decision. Staying in the background and not interacting with doctors or patients and so we just watched and recorded.
We intentionally did not shoot any interview setups. We wanted Humanity. to feel like a movie more than a documentary.
Whenever there was an interview setup in a documentary it instantly pulled us out of the storyline. So we decided to use a voice over, but not the usual third person who is not involved in the topic. We let the doctors tell their stories themselves and let them process their feelings just like in a diary. So when you ask why you should watch Humanity....We think because it is different. Different to other documentaries, but still... it tells an emotional story about wonderful people captured in beautiful pictures...
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Humanity. is about the grace of charity. We personally think that everybody who is able to help people in need should not hesitate to do so. So this is something personal as well as it should be universal.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Well, there was no script in the beginning...We had no idea what awaited us in Myanmar.
So we just travelled there and shot basically everything that happened. Back in the editing lab we sorted hours and hours of footage and tried to find out if there were children we followed through the whole process of arriving until their release and if there were other interesting stories we could tell. So we started editing, very roughly.
When the first rough cut was finished, we started working on the voice over to connect the scenes and get a storyline into the documentary...Of course scenes were switched with others during this process...After having around 20 versions of Humanity. we were finally happy.
So what was missing was sound. A good friend of ours offered to write the score so all that was left was the English voice over since the German language version was spoken by Dr. Julia Berkei and Dr. Barun Sarkar themselves. The English language turned out to be much more difficult so we had 2 speakers for each Dr.. But in the end, 11 months after the production started we finally premiered at RIIFF...
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Since RIIFF was our world premiere we have not received much feedback. wearemovingstories.com is our first official article which makes us very happy... But we sent Humanity. to dozens of festivals this and next year so we hope to get some more attention in the coming months.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We just started our festival run. And all beginnings are hard. We appreciate any form of publicity. And after reviewing wearemovingstories.com we think it is a perfect platform for this to start. We think we fit in there quite perfectly since you embrace new voices in documentary...
Humanity. is our first entirely self-produced documentary and we want to share it with the world.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Well, of course it would be great if Humanity. would somehow receives distribution. But not only because of the financial aspect, it is more that we could widen the audience so the children of Myanmar get more attention and the Medical Interventions Team could get more support to help project.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Academy Award?! :)
Honestly, we just wanted to be a part of this to help the project. The people of Myanmar are so welcoming and friendly, so when Humanity. helps to increase attention for the children of Myanmar, we are satisfied... But of course we would not say no to one or the other official festival selections...
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
This is probably something that the audience should answer. So if you have a question to us or you want to discuss about Humanity. please do so...
Would you like to add anything else?
We really love the project and the work of the Medical Intervention Team. So we are thankful for everything that helps to promote their work and our documentary. Thank you Carmela for being a part of it! We know that there are so many films out there so we
appreciate that you picked Humanity. for your selection.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Humanity. was entirely produced for free...So right now we are raising money for the next project. This means we do some freelancing jobs, mostly in the commercial film sector.
Interview: August 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 30 min.
Director: Frederik Wiegel & Thilo Jäger
Producer: Frederik Wiegel & Thilo Jäger
About the writer, director and producer:
Frederik Wiegel: Born in Brasil / Raised in Germany / Studied filmmaking at NYFA in NYC / Selfemployed filmmaker based in Germany / owner of Headroom Pictures
Thilo Jäger: Filmmaker based in Germany / graduated media designer / camera operator and editor for various national and international agencies and film productions
Sara Jones (voice of Dr. Julia Berkei in the english language version) / P.J. Escobio ( voice of Dr. Barun Sarkar in the english language version
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Social media handles:
Other: Homepage: http://humanity-documentary.de / http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6952896
Where can I see it in the next month?: website will have updates on screenings.