Were you always interested in the subject food?
No, I wasn’t. In my opinion, this topic was neglected a long time. When I developed the project, I didn’t know that Erwin Wagenhofer had the same idea and made the documentary We feed the world. Both films were financed by the EU at the same time.
Even if your film Our Daily Bread was financed by the EU, you pointed out the European agricultural politic in a critical way…
For me, it’s a big illusion. The whole European agriculture wouldn’t run without the cheap workers who are often illegals. For the film it wasn’t important where to shoot because all over Europe the process is the same. The film allowed us to look behind the scenes into a very closed zone: the foodstuff sector.
Do you think your film had an effect on the public?
The documentary was shown all over Europe in the cinemas and in the television. We received a lot of emails saying: “The film changed my mind. Now I pay more attention to my food and where it comes from.” The film was even projected in the US and in Japan where it was a big success. It is absolutely impossible to film in Japanese slaughterhouses. The Japanese’s were very enthusiastic about this and it was a real track record.
Why did you choose to do the film without voice over?
In the beginning, the scenario was based on interviews; approximately 60% of the shooting were interviews. Then we had rough cut problems, the material wasn’t so efficient. We had to visit the places again. While viewing the material, we became award that the images were strong enough and that we don’t categorical need the interviews. All my other films are based on portraits but in this case it was the wrong direction. The film is more coherent like this. It was a long process to get there.
Why are these images so shocking for us?
The work in the slaughterhouses changed a lot. Today, every worker is only working on one special part of the body, with always the same movement of the hand. There is no interference between the different sectors. For the workers it’s a normal work and most of them are happy to have a job.
Are you still interested in the subject?
Yes, the research for the film changed my mind a lot. I ate a lot of meat before and now I eat less and try to get organic meat. Of course, organic supermarkets are better but even organic farming is not 100% clear. And who can afford to buy only organic food? Even if you grow your own food in your garden, you have to kill potato bugs and other small insects. You have to resign yourself to this fact.
Are you planning other food related films?
First of all, the film is more about our society and about what we are eating than about food. For me the film is a statement but I don’t want to go on in this direction. I always focus on one topic, make a film about it and then continue in another direction. The films should speak for themselves.