Marcus H. Rosenmueller, Santiago López Jover on ‘Welcome to Siegheilkirchen’ and Bringing the Work of Manfred Deix to Life

“Welcome to Siegheilkirchen” not only honors Manfred Deix, one of Austria's most renowned cartoonists and satirists, but also the country's first animated feature film.
The film, which will be rolled out at the gala premieres at the Zurich Film Festival, follows a child whose immense talent for drawing gives him an outlet for his dissatisfaction while growing up in a small, conservative Austrian town where sympathy with Nazis is still widespread . Deix initially worked as art director on the project before he died in 2016.
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For Marcus H. Rosenmüller, “Welcome to Siegheilkirchen” has been going on for a long time. It was the first animated film for the acclaimed German filmmaker, who joined the project almost a decade ago after producers Josef Aichholzer and Ernst Geyer convinced Deix to make a film based on his work and partly inspired by his life became.
The film took several years to develop and the process became a learning experience for Rosenmüller, who was responsible for preproduction and script. "I was very green behind the ears," he jokes, noting that it took a long time to get the story right and to fund the film. "I was impressed and surprised that it is always a very long way to make an animated film."
The Spanish animation supervisor Santiago López Jover, whose credits include Tomm Moore's “Song of the Sea”, “Kahlil Gibrans The Prophet” by Roger Allers and Tom Tykwer's “A Hologram for the King”, co-directed the project in 2016 . “It was a necessary collaboration between animation filmmaking on my part and all of the previous work on the story that Marcus did,” says López.
For Rosenmüller, the close cooperation with López was a valuable educational experience. “What I learned from this animation film I can apply to feature films, especially if you focus on what is really, really needed for the story. What Santi taught me was what to focus on: movement, emotions. As a co-director, it was really fantastic for me. "
The collaboration resulted in work that remains true to the art and spirit of Deix. “There are many elements that are inspired by his life,” says López.
It shows in the satire and appearance of the characters as well. The film captures the artist's contempt for the prejudices and discrimination prevailing at the time, adds Rosenmüller.
"The content of our story is the content that Manfred Deix always fought against with his caricatures: the Nazis who still lived in the villages, the scandals of the church and the bigotry of society."
The subject of his satire, his criticism was above all hypocrisy, emphasizes López. "And the film reflects that."
While the characters are very Deix's cartoon style, the film has an overall natural and realistic look to it. "The reference I used for the animators was 'The Illusionist' by Sylvain Chomet," explains López. This 2010 film (based on a script by Jacques Tati) similarly used caricatures in realistic settings.
The experience with “Welcome to Seeilkirchen” has given Rosenmüller great appreciation for the genre, especially for the creative freedom in the implementation of ideas and scenes that are not possible in live action. “You can be free in your head. You can just paint it. You can just do it. That is the big advantage in animation. "
"Welcome to Siegheilkirchen" (formerly "Snotty Boy") is distributed internationally by Picture Tree International and is distributed by Pandora Filmverleih in Germany, Filmladen in Austria and Presens Film in Switzerland.
For his next project, López plans to direct "Hikari", an animated film set in 19th century Nagasaki about Jinsaburo Moriyama, a Japanese Christian persecuted for his beliefs. Jonathan Clarke's Kilkenny-based Distillery Films is producing the film, which has already secured development funding from Screen Ireland. “Welcome to Siegheilkirchen” producer Aichholzer Filmproduktion and Manuel Cristóbal's Madrid-based Sygnatia co-produce.
López and Cristóbal ("Buñuel in the Labyrinth of Turtles") are also working together on several other as yet unannounced animated films for adult audiences.
In his next project, a modern remake of the TV classic "Meister Eder und seine Pumuckl" from the 1980s, about a magical goblin who lives with an old carpenter, Rosenmüller will be doing animation again. Produced by Münchner Neuesuper for RTL and its streaming platform TVNow, the new live-action animation show will be shot next year.
Rosenmüller's other recent picture, "Lifeguard Off Duty", about a grumpy lifeguard trying to save the local swimming pool from closing, recently hit German cinemas to rave reviews.
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