Denmar 2015, 62min
In this new documentary by award winning director Jonas Poher, Jens Michael Schau tells his story for the first time.
What he did becomes clear quite quickly: Jens Michael Schau killed his lover, the well known author Christian Kampmann; a horrible and unforgivable deed, Schau himself is the first to admit. Now he has served his sentence and has been placed back into society. He is not quite ready to cope with it and, so he fears, neither is society.
What he did is an exceptional film in that it shows a number of challenges in documentary filmmaking: how do you deal with a participant who is not very talkative, even if he has interesting things to say? How do you visualise events of which there are no images? Filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen found a way to deal with both: he made the interaction with Schau part of the film and he uses recordings of a stage adaptation of Schau’s autobiographical novel by the Mungo Park Theatre to fill in some visual and audio-gaps.
The story of the tragedy is not very exceptional. Theatre director Martin Lyngbo even calls it “a textbook case” crime of passion. Schau was trained as a psychologist. In the mid-1980s he was at the beginning of his writing career. He was also 9 years younger than the acclaimed Kampmann, suffered from insecurity and had a hard time coping with the open relationship they had from time to time, which was the spirit of the 80s. In addition, he was worried about the AIDS epidemic raging in the gay scene at the time. His parents rejected him after his coming out. Afraid of being left alone and unable to cope with his anxieties, he killed his lover of 13 years in a fit of uncontrolled rage and jealousy, or so it seems.
Years later we see a fragile old man, bald, white moustache, struggling to accept what he has done and to allow the years he shared with Kampmann to have a place in his life. He is afraid to be rejected by society, avoiding the streets for fear of meeting former friends and offending people with his presence, and hence locking himself up – again – in his house. Being an author, he trusted his story to paper and apparently feels uncomfortable talking about it, represented as someone who only answers when posed a question, and he does it monosyllabic, while looking at the filmmaker with big, open, questioning eyes. Rather than the story itself it is the interaction between theatre and documentary, the interaction between Rasmussen and Schau, and the relationship between these two narrative lines that makes the film worthwhile.
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