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“We Were Living at Such an Accelerated Pace…”: Karim Ainouz on Dreaming of a Different Future

In April, as we began to put together the Summer, 2020 issue of Filmmaker, we asked directors, cinematographers, editors and other film workers to send us their thoughts on the quarantine and their own creative lives. The responses printed here were collected from April through mid-June — personal statements that speak variously to individual filmmaking practices, films halted mid-production, politics, art and life. Read all the responses here. — Editor

My experience during this quarantine has been quite ambiguous. I will explain. Germany, where I am based, was one of the first countries to report cases of COVID-19. I remember that at the end of February, the beginning of the pandemic, everything was very calm despite the rumors that the virus was spreading at high speed. Especially in Berlin, there was never the sense of despair. I have a memory of a feeling that everything was somewhat under control. We were living at such an accelerated pace that when calm prevails it feels weird, but as I said, I cannot complain about those times, especially because I was always healthy, so I managed to experience all the good. It had been a while since I had been so creative, that I had time to think, feel, conjecture. At that time, the pandemic and the lockdown, in my bubble of privilege, seemed like a dream. And the most important, it allowed [me] to dream of a different future, beyond the Capitalocene. 

As the virus spread around the world, the first taste of tragedy also came. 

The reality of Germany proved to be completely unique, and the world began to suffer, especially places like Brazil and the United States, where inequalities are shocking. Brazil still has the peculiarity of being ruled by a murderous psychopath, so things are way more difficult there. No more calm, and pandemic has proven itself very disturbing. I feel it imprint a tragedy in the country’s history. 

I really hope these weird times bring some change, at least the certainty that we cannot go back to what it was before.

Karim Aïnouz is an award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter and visual artist.

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