Talking about creating the short film The Cave with Sabine Asanger
by Yayoi Lena Winfrey
The films Sabine Asanger creates require more than just a cursory viewing. Indeed, the filmmaker has a way of completely engaging her audience through storytelling steeped in philosophical contemplation.
One of Asanger’s techniques is mixing live action with animation, and her director’s reel features some thought-provoking clips. There’s a giant rabbit hopping among psychedelic mushrooms, marching glasses of water, glowing dollar bills, a little girl who accidentally sets a deadly fire, and a boy cured of sucking his thumb through a violent act encouraged by a smiling flower. Asanger’s work displays a speculative sense about the world around her and, in order to grasp her messages, the filmgoer is compelled to speculate along with her.
In her short film The Cave, winner of the Indie Fest’s Award of Merit, three slaves are tied up inside a dark cave. Bored out of their minds, two of them have become lethargic while the third discovers that he can easily untie himself by pounding on his ropes with a rock. After making his escape, he embarks on a wondrous journey of freedom drinking in the visual beauty of the world. But what is most shocking is that the others refuse to follow him to a place free of bondage. Asanger’s message is clear; there are those who will always prefer the safety of familiarity. Her thought-provoking stories, always with a moral at its center, tend to evoke analysis of her heavy statements that are not aimed at the superficial.
Q: You started making films at a very young age. Was there ever anything else you wanted to do?
A: Not really. Ever since I was four years old, I was interested in making films. It was during that time I saw a guy get killed in a movie. He was bleeding and I was totally shocked, telling my mom the guy was dying. She told me that he wasn’t really dying and that the blood was ketchup. From then on, I was fascinated by movie magic and wanted to be part of it somehow.
Q: Your films are very thought-provoking with a dreamy, fantasy-like quality. Do you think telling a story, with strong visual images, is conducive to getting your powerful messages across?
A: I love mixing reality with fantasy, I guess, because as a filmmaker you have the chance to create the impossible. I was always a big fan of symbolism, and that is why I like to tell stories through images.
Q: Where did you get the idea for your short film The Cave?
A: I was taking a class in philosophy and was overwhelmed by Plato’s cave allegory. Plato created this extremely stylized world that runs parallel to how humans conceive reality versus what reality really is. It is like the concept of film. You create a reality that others can see through the frame, but the actual reality can only be seen by the filmmakers.
Q: How has winning the IndieFest Award of Merit for The Cave helped your career?
A: It has allowed my film to be recognized as well as help me get recognized as a filmmaker. It’s great!
Q: The films in your director's reel show a lot of diversity when it comes to actors. Is that something that you have a special sensitivity for, casting with diversity in mind? Those roles could have been played by anyone, but you cast people of color.
A: In my past films, ethnicity was not ever a question. The only importance is that the actors fit the character of the roles they play.
Q: Why did you name your production company Bunnybeez?
A: I have two bunnies, Creampuff and Blueberry, who have inspired me over and over again. And “bine” from Sabine is the German word for “bee”, which is a symbol of working. So to me, it is “Inspiration + Work”.
Q: What are some of your upcoming projects?
A: Right now, I’m developing a script that involves short tales in Los Angeles. Of course, there is a touch of magic involved. These will be modern day fairytales.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for independent filmmakers?
A: Be persistent and don’t lose sight of your dreams and goals. It’s a tough, but fun business to work in.
Thank you, Sabine. Surely, following your dreams has taken you to this coveted spot in your film career. Hopefully, your themes of fantasy melded with reality will continue to work their magic in your movies.