German filmmakers defy the apocalypse | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 22.08.2012
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German filmmakers defy the apocalypse

Two filmmakers in Berlin are standing up to an ancient Mayan prophesy and encouraging people around the world to join them. They are collecting personal reasons why the world should not be allowed to come to an end.

There has never been a shortage of doomsday theories. But few are as famous and feared as the ancient Mayan belief that the world will end on December 21, 2012.

The prophesy inspired Berlin-based filmmakers Lilly Engel and Philipp Fleischmann to make a movie entitled "99 Reasons Why the World Is Not Allowed to End." They created the website to invite people all over the world to respond with their own video messages.

All the clips, which can be up to three minutes in length, contributed will be posted on the website. Meanwhile, Engel and Fleischmann are traveling around Germany, France and Canada to pose the same question: What reasons are there to hang on to Mother Earth? But the filmmakers also out to find out whether anyone is preparing for the apocalypse and, if so, how.

Philipp Fleischmann

Fleischmann says the video clips can be light-hearted

"It's about giving all kind of people around the world the chance to speak and share their personal stories about why life is worth living," said Fleischmann.

Preparing for the end

Celebrities are also among the interviewees, including German filmmaker Klaus Lemke as well as Roland Emmerich, currently seen as Germany's most famous Hollywood director.

That's no coincidence: Emmerich is well known for making catastrophe films and addressed the end of the world a few years ago with his appropriately titled film, "2012." The production was a huge success, costing $200 million and bringing in $760 million.

"99 Reasons Why the World Is Not Allowed to End" isn't intended to be quite as epic, though. Engel and Fleischmann have mainly been talking with ordinary people. In Germany, they found concerned individuals who are hording food and have rented space in a bunker.

While Germans seem to be fairly receptive to apocalypse theories, the French are different. In France, the filmmakers have mainly been met with friendly but skeptical head-shaking when they ask whether anyone is preparing for the end of the world. Many of the French interviewees didn't even understand the question, the filmmakers said.

Canada is the next stop for Engel and Fleischmann, where they can compare opinions from the New World with those from old Europe.

A scene from 2012 by Roland Emmerich

A scene from "2012" by Roland Emmerich

What makes life worth living?

But is it all just a hoax? Fleischmann says no, "It's not a film about the end of the world, but against the end of the world - humorous, humanistic, loving entertainment." Fleischmann aims to contrast the ancient Mayan wisdom with anecdotes from everyday life.

"It's about approaching the inevitable with hope," he added. "It would be OK if the earth kept turning for a while longer."

Fleischmann made an appeal for the public to contribute to the project, saying that thinking about what makes life worth living doesn't necessarily mean that the video clip has to be serious. Love, a picture, a book, a particular place, or just the snack bar on the corner that makes life a bit tastier - there is no wrong answer, the filmmaker emphasized.

For the final cut, excerpts filmed by Engel and Fleischmann will be combined with selected clips submitted by the public. Mark Lanegan, the singer and songwriter responsible for the band Screaming Trees' dark music, will contribute to the soundtrack. Lanegan will also make an appearance in front of the camera, as will English drumming legend Pete York.

German-French broadcaster ARTE is set to air the film on apocalypse day, December 21, 2012. But will we all still be around to view it?

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