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Credits
  • Director: Nikias Chryssos
  • Producer: Nikias Chryssos, Hans W. Geissendörfer, Hana Geissendörfer
  • Screenwriters: Nikias Chryssos
  • Cast: Pit Bukowski, Daniel Fripan, Oona von Maydell, David Scheller
  • Cinematography: Matthias Reisser
Product Details
  • Format: DVD / Blu-ray
  • Catalog: ART41
  • UPC: 851597006049 (DVD); 851597006322 (Blu-ray)
  • ISBN: 9781939196460 (DVD); 978-1-939196-72-9 (Blu-ray)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Country: Germany
  • Language: German with English subtitles
  • Rating: NR
  • Year: 2015
  • Length: 85 minutes
  • Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
  • Color: Color
Gallery
With his surrealistic and dark, yet strangely heart-warming approach towards an unusual family’s world, DER BUNKER’s director Nikias Chryssos may well be the nephew of John Waters and the illegitimate son of David Lynch and Luis Buñuel. A student rents a windowless room in a bunker home nestled deep within a forest. Here, instead of finding tranquility for his studies, the young man becomes increasingly involved in the dramas of his landlord’s family. They include the stern father, his wife (whose swollen leg almost takes a life of its own) and their precocious 8-year-old son Klaus who, despite being German and "learning-challenged," is being home groomed to become the President of the United States. Initially friendly and welcoming, the situation becomes increasingly bizarre. A funny, visually arresting and a bit unsettling modern fairy tale.
Reviews

 

 

 

“A weird damn movie. It was incredibly well acted, beautifully shot, and quite capably directed by Chryssos, and all in all, it’s an excellent film. It’s a slow, twisted mindfuck of a film, very much in the vein of Dogtooth for those who have caught that gem. The cast, led by Pit Bukowski (The Student, who looks like a cross between a young Sting and Jessie Plemmons from Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights) is excellent. They’re all sufficiently creepy and nonsensical, which fits perfectly into this bizarre “horror” comedy.” Horror News

“A delightfully demented dystopian update of a Brothers Grimm fairytale as assembled for a decidedly deracinated generation of Germans… only Chryssos knows what is going inside his head, but it amazes me that a man that could make such an uncompromisingly wayward flick could be such a stereotypical conformist bitch when it comes to politics.” – SoiledCinema

“A striking and very entertaining blend of black comedy and borderline surreal horror.” – Mondo-Digital

“Chryssos’ ability to create intriguing yet ultimately anonymous characters and disciplined refusal to explain anything about their situation makes Der Bunker a future cult classic.” – LoserCity

“Artsploitation have come through with another supreme slice of foreign weirdness…, Yup, way beyond weird and darkly funny, which I was not expecting. The movie has a building sense of quirky dread which I thought would transform into some bloody carnage, but it only unfolds into more surreal lunacy. If a mash-up the 70’s cult-classic The Baby (1973) by way of Delicatessen (1991) sounds like a good time, this ought to be a fun watch for you, for others it might just be a head-scratcher. Highly recommended for fans of surreal black comedies.” – McBastard’s Mausoleum

Der Bunker and the bizarre go hand-in-hand. Only a unique mindset with skewed vision could have pulled together such a twisted dark comedy tale of the mortal coil in holding your children to your hopes and dreams for them. Colorfully unapologetic, Der Bunker canisters another world sluggishly revolving through multiple levels of layers of psychosexual and frustrating concepts that flaunts a conventional cinema defiance attitude to establish bold filmmaking possibilities. In short, director Nikias Chryssos shoots high and doesn’t miss with his first run.” – ItsBlogginEvil

“This film is literally a melting pot of genres. Just when you think that this film is playing things for laughs, in then takes a sharp turn in a completely different direction. Oddly enough when it comes to the narrative things are straight forward and easy to follow…From a production stand point there is not a single area where this film does not deliver and then some. The rock solid visuals add greatly to the story at and and there is also a diversity to said visuals that goes in hand in hand with this eccentric behavior on display. And perhaps in a film filled with odd imagery, one is more bizarre then the moment when Klaus gets some of his mother’s milk. Performance wise all the actors are amazing in their respective roles. With this film most mesmerizing performance coming from Daniel Fripan in the role of Klaus!” – Michael Den Boer, 10KBullets

“I will begin by quoting the great John Waters in saying “Get more out of life. See a fucked up movie.” This one definitely fits the bill….I can advise those who would venture to see this comedy that they should definitely expect the unexpected and soon enough you’ll find yourself understanding the odd rhythm of this world.” – The MovieRat

“As Der Bunker moves forward, we are treated to just some of the quirkiest people I’ve watched in years. The kid is weird, but his parents are even more head scratching…And even as weird as they can be, they are still pretty likable….Chryssos did a great job of telling a very strange story. Der Bunker is full of charm.” – Alex Harrison, TheNerdMentality

“Extreme and subversive.” – FulVueDrive-In

“It’s the perfect back-to-school film, whether you’re hitting the books, teaching a class or having your little one pried from your hands. This creepy, artsy fairy tale hooks you immediately with its dark yet lively atmosphere, charming originality and intriguing, over-the-top characters. Der Bunker is a captivating gem, loaded with stunning imagery, powerful performances and a gripping story that is sure to stay with you for a very long time…Der Bunker is certainly one of the most original pieces to come out in ages. Not only is it provocative in its zaniness, but it’s also incredibly relateable. You will laugh your way through this entire story, even when disturbed and perhaps disgusted. This film is one of the most aesthetically stunning films to fall into this viewer’s hand in quite some time. Each scene is incredibly sexy and creepy and weird and full of childlike energy and heaviness at the same time. Fans of unusual, unsettling David Lynch-type stories should put this one at the top of their must-see list. – 28DLA

“One of the year’s highlights. Only Germany could have produced such a delightfully twisted movie. The German-language film is the most interesting movie I’ve seen this year for its sheer originality. Der Bunker crosses the charm of Wes Anderson with David Cronenberg’s bizarre perspective. Der Bunker is thoughtful and compelling. Ultimately it’s a tale about childhood, education and parenting. How it gets there is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Funny, dark and even heartwarming, nothing can prepare you for Der Bunker. Sit back and enjoy its uniquely unsettling storytelling.DoBlu

“One of the oddball breakout films of last year…Der Bunker is an impressive piece of work, reflecting a distinctive sensibility and a swarming intelligence that questions the more commonplace rhythms of narrative order. – ScreenAnarchy

Der Bunker is a very strange award winning German black comedy….I didn’t really know what to class this as, as it certainly isn’t horror, but it has a sense of unease and peril throughout that contrasts with the ridiculous nature of the piece.” – TheRottingZombie

“I assure you, that spending a  night in the twisted world of Der Bunker would guarantee, at least, a sleepless half hour of uneasy contemplation upon awakening…this film plays out like a combination of The Miracle Worker and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks… challenging, sweet, inspirational and totally off its fucking nut.” – MonsterMovieApp

Der Bunker is a film that doesn’t want the viewer to be comfortable, nor is it concerned with being easily interpreted.  It’s dingy and grimy, and the characters are unnervingly exaggerated caricatures.  The titular bunker is presented as a home but is more like a large cell, particularly for Klaus and Student, who are subject to the demands of Father, Mother, and Heinrich.  Der Bunker is a challenging, fulfilling film; a Kafkaesque fever dream that deconstructs family to its absurd base and is recommended if you are feeling like getting a little weird and dirty. – CinemaBluster

“Nothing could have prepared me for the oddity that awaited me when I pushed play. The film’s unique genre bending and taboo breaking are distinctly European. Hailing from Germany, Der Bunker blends absurd humor, family drama, and horror undertones. Der Bunker is one of the most unique movies you’ll see this year, but it’s not merely weird for the sake of weird…those who champion the surreal works of David Lynch, John Waters, and David Cronenberg – are likely to be charmed and captivated.” – BrokeHorrorFan

“Grotesque and absurd, but like a car crash, I was horrified but found my eyes glued to the screen…you will be entertained.” – SplatsOfBlood

“We’ve all been there: You rent a room based on an ad promising a lake view, only to discover upon arrival that it’s actually a windowless hovel in a remote bunker inhabited by a disturbing Lynchian family of three. Der Bunker, the directorial debut of Nikias Chryssos, is a heady dose of weirdness…but it also works as a nightmare version of overprotective parenting. Klaus faces impossible expectations and extreme coddling at the same time, literally sheltered from the world in a surreal perma-childhood. – , BuzzFeed Entertainment

“For those of you who felt The Lobster was just a tad too mainstream for a Summer release, Der Bunker should strike your fancy. Dark, exploitive and fairly twisted…Der Bunker is ultimately a John Waters film by way of David Cronenberg. A lot of the film’s charms are trashy, and perverse, but ultimately very, very funny. If you’re looking for something really different, not clearly defined as Horror or Comedy, yet clearly soaked in a foot bath of both, check yourself in. Der Bunker is a cinematic curiosity piece made for a crowded late-night screening, and certainly something weird for collectors of the mondo trasho to add to their shelves. ForcesOfGeek

“…as he arrives at the family’s bunker, he suspects that he has arrived at the airbnb from hell…it is a twisted tale with a serious message about education and childhood, where the abnormal gradually becomes normal.” BattleRoyaleWithCheese

A funny, visually arresting, and a bit unsettling modern fairy tale. Der Bunker is film without a genre. You could start by labeling it horror, but you’d almost certainly have to back it up with comedy, and then psycho-sexual thriller, and then drama, and then even science-fiction, and after a while it gets to the point where you realize to saddle it with one or several genre labels is fruitless. Perhaps schizofreude–an erratic, unpredictable, dangerous film from which an audience can derive pleasure by their witnessing extremely discomforting scenarios that straddle the line between obviously funny and vaguely disturbing. Der Bunker comes highly recommended for seekers of the strange, and its blu-ray makes the case for an easy purchase. – CutPrintFilm

easily one of the most unique and truly bizarre films I have seen this year, and that is saying something because I have watched some crazy ass movies this year. ..The film is essentially an exercise in mood, and is beautifully staged and shot…If you are looking for something you have never seen before, and I can’t imagine seeing again, then look no further. Truly bizarre. Cult films do not come much stranger than this one. I have been thinking about this movie a lot in the twenty four hours since I have watched it, and can’t seem to shake the strange power to captivate that this strangely funny film holds. It is absolutely as bizarre a film as I have seen in a long time. If you are looking for something COMPLETELY removed from the mainstream, and you don’t mind somewhat vague surrealist filmmaking, this movie is going to be one that you will be talking about for a long time. I honestly believe that this is destined for cult status.BlurayAuthority

DER BUNKER Makes New York Weekly News’ “Top Ten List” — Cam Williams, NewYorkWeeklyNews

“…strap on your crash-helmet and settle in for a weird ride.” – read full review: ShatteredRavings

An extraordinary piece of filmmaking….There are parts you’ll snicker at, smirk at, even laugh aloud watching, even as you squirm in discomfort. It keeps you off-balance, and just when you anticipate the next move, it still surprises you with its cleverness. Like all comedy, you’ll either find it funny or you won’t. I’m reasonably certain, however, that you probably haven’t seen anything else quite like it. I’ve kept this review brief because I don’t want to ruin the experience for you: you should click away to watch Der Bunker as soon as you can. Then click back and tell us what you think at The Slaughtered Bird. – read full review: TheSlaughteredBird

Der Bunker is not what the layperson might call an artsy-fartsy German film that’s different for the sake of being different. The set decoration is unsettling, the costumes are bizarre, and the story piles layer upon layer of mystery. Yet Chryssos explains everything that needs explaining, leaves some elements in question, and made me believe that he had a plan for everything–even if he had no intention of revealing certain parts of that plan to me.” – read full review: KickingSeat

“If you’re a fan of the weird and wonderful, then you should immediately go and watch Der Bunker. I can guarantee you that the film is unlike anything you have ever seen. Der Bunker is a brilliantly written/directed début. Nikias Chryssos introduces characters with no back-story, but are easily some of the best characters to hit the screen in some time. Such a weird and unique tale brought to life by so little. A great achievement for any filmmaker, it’s hard to believe that Der Bunker is his first feature-length. It’s going to be shocking to see what movie this man releases on us next. I will be eagerly awaiting its arrival.” – read full review: MovieHooker

“What an engrossing and bizarrely enjoyable ride it was. But bizarre is barely a word that could describe the brooding strangeness at the core of this darkly comic film, comparable to the works of David Lynch, with shades of David Cronenberg. Der Bunker leaves a feeling of satisfaction, and curiosity, that demands a second viewing. Der Bunker is a surprisingly captivating and titillating film that is mired in strangeness and enigma, a masterful achievement by writer and director, Nikias Chryssos, and an incredibly palpable surreal social satire.” – read full review: WeAreIndieHorror

“What in the unholy hell did I just fucking watch?” That is the question I guarantee you will ask yourself after sitting through the new German…whatever the hell it is…I mean it’s a film; but just what kind defies description. Der Bunker is a flick unlike any other…well worth your time; especially if you have a desire to see a film that’s like an unholy combination of the works of Herzog, Miike and Lynch. You have been warned, and recommended all at once dear fiends!” – read full review: OutreEye

“There’s more than enough surprises to keep lovers of the weird glued to the screen..Der Bunker is a joke on the insularity of the nuclear family and its impenetrability to the outsider. It’s a joke that naturally turns into a nightmare…” – read full review: 366WeirdMovies

“Chryssos directs and writes this and he’s drawing comparisons to John Waters and David Lynch and from the standpoint that this is a quirky cult film-type, the comparison isn’t wrong. Fans of those two worthies (and others along the same lines) will likely dig the very oddball world that Chryssos delivers here. For my taste, this is something you might have seen back in the days of the Weimar Republic only with a kind of Russ Meyers edge, along with the filmmakers I’ve already mentioned. This is a strange one, but if you like strange, you’re gonna like this.” – read full review: Cinema365

Oona von Maydell shows off her pert pair in a few different scenes. In one she sits up out of bed topless and lets us see those luscious suck sacks. In another she is nursing her son who is way too old to be nursing. It’s a little odd, but those knockers look fantastic…Pit Bukowski climbs into bed to relax with his shirt off and lets us get a nice look at his tight upper body. This sexy Pit will make your naughty region pulse!” – read full review: MR SKIN

“If 2014’s haunting Danish mystery Borgman and 2016’s taut chamber thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane had an 8-year-old child in a 30-year-old man’s body, it might look a lot like the charmingly, bafflingly bizarre “Der Bunker.” This singularly original German import—the feature writing-directing debut of Nikias Chryssos—defies easy genre classification, snubbing its nose at anything resembling convention. With the narrative so brazenly askew, anything seems possible. Satire, horror and surrealism blur in “Der Bunker,” a film of eccentric social mores set in a world resembling a forebodingly charred fairy tale.” – read full review: Dustin Putman, TheFrightFile 

“Chryssos’ ability to create intriguing yet ultimately anonymous characters and disciplined refusal to explain anything about their situation makes Der Bunker a future cult classic.” – read full review: LoserCity

“It’s hard to believe that this is writer/director Nikias Chryssos’s first feature length film. The cinematography, the atmosphere, the user of color, and the camera work is all flawless. The opening scene alone is enough to grab audience’s attention. In fact, everyone on board with the film does a fantastic job. Among everything though, what stands out to me the most are the costumes and musical elements. Der Bunker is all pros and no cons. It’s strange, it’s fun, and it’s hella entertaining. I really don’t have anything negative to say about it. If weird is your cup of tea, then I highly recommend you add this one to your “must watch” list. – read full review: ModernHorrors

Der Bunker is one of the most unexpected finds of 2016, an eccentric, unsettling original making its U.S. premiere with this excellent Blu-ray release. Charmingly, bafflingly bizarre… the picture excites by constantly evading norms of decency and expectation… Leonard Petersen’s music score [is] as ambitious and creepily avant-garde as the movie itself.” – read full review: TheBluFile

Der Bunker [is] a claustrophobic black comedy of ill manners and bad education that centres on an unassuming postgraduate who is locked underground with a family unit who make the Munsters look like the Waltons.  Part domestic satire, part family-horror shot with black eyed humour, Chryssos’ film is a deranged one off. Shot within bright neon glows and pulses, Der Bunker applies a modern indie horror aesthetic to its dark farce, making the most of its confined, but precisely detailed, sets. Der Bunker’s vision of familial hell uses both cruelty and camp to set the scene for an unsettling lesson in horror.” – read full review: TheMovieWaffler

Der Bunker is one very unusual and thus quite remarkable little film.” -read full review:  SearchMyTrash

“If  Serbian Film was about a typical family in the underground of Serbia. This film can be seen as a typical family in a very odd part of Germany. This film had such a quirky charm that I found myself really getting behind it. The dark tone and humor worked fine…This film could be an art house delight, if it played midnight houses around the US. I see this film, as a break from the normal. A break from the formula and also a break from the turning my brain off. This film is proof that you can have a film with a dark tone and succeed, not trying to soften it up to appease a studio head. – read full review: WickedChannel

“The Bunker” is a dark, twisted, and funny tale about childhood, growing up and education. The movie is twisted, trashy and a lot of fun. I suppose we can say that it is a dark fairy tale with a tablespoon of sci-fi, and a dash of camp.” – read full review: ReviewsByAmosLassen

“Easily one of the most unique and truly bizarre films I have seen this year, and that is saying something because I have watched some crazy ass movies this year. It is at once confusing, eerie, beguiling, funny, gross, and absurd. If you are looking for something you have never seen before, and I can’t imagine seeing again, then look no further. Truly bizarre. If you are looking for something COMPLETELY removed from the mainstream, and you don’t mind somewhat vague surrealist filmmaking, this movie is going to be one that you will be talking about for a long time. I honestly believe that this is destined for cult status.” – Jake Keet, Blurayauthority

“A very bizarre, absurd, weird, twisted, eccentric and entertaining piece of German-language cinema. Something that I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I have never experienced a film like Der Bunker before that I can even compare it to. Nikias Chryssos has created something completely different….Nikias Chryssos’s story is completely absurd and the more the movie rolls on the more ludicrous it becomes. This eccentric family never fail to surprise and disturb the viewers in equal measure as each layer of family life is peeled away. I have to congratulate Nikias for being brave and bold enough to deliver something so bizarre and unusual for his first full length feature.

I have a feeling this is destined to be cult favorite for years to come thanks to a brilliant story and fantastic direction from Nikias Chryssos, an extremely strong cast giving it there all, and a brilliant team behind the scenes. This bizarre film is one that has the ability to grab an audience’s attention no matter what language it is in. I highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for something completely different and ‘out-there’.” – read full review: MovieBlogger.com

“Artsploitation Films newest release on Blu-ray and VOD is the German production Der Bunker, and it is an absolute home run for the distribution company. What they have on their hands is by far one of their best releases and a sure fire modern cult classic and hit amongst cult cinema fans. It is a hard one to completely peg down, but it is probably the closest thing to being what director Wes Anderson would create if he were to make a truly dark comedy that crosses into the horror and sci-fi genres. The direction and cinematography are superb…[Chryssos] pushes the limits of weird and breaks into the realms of more sci-fi and horror, evoking memories of David Lynch and David Cronenberg. This is someone to keep an eye on. While not for everyone…chances are that you will absolutely love this wonderful little oddity.” – read full review: SpoilerFreeMovieSleuth

“The acting is top-notch and the film is damned effective. At what I’m not certain, but it’s effective. I would recommend anyone watching the movie to go in blind, like I did. Don’t read up on it ahead of time, and don’t bother trying to figure it out as you view it. Just let yourself EXPERIENCE it.” -read full review:  LeglessCorpse

“This film is so bizarre…indeed very, very weird. Der Bunker is something like The Baby meets 10 Cloverfield Lane as co-directed by John Waters and Takashi Miike (in German).” – read full review: iHorror 

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes this little gem which slaps you around the face, pulls your twisted carcass in, and then spews you out more deranged than before. Der Bunker is brilliant, fascinating and utterly bizarre, yet it has this strange warming charm about it.” It’s beautifully shot and edited and the score is just a perfect fit. It’s a delightful arthouse film that’s quirky and highly appealing which is destined to be a cult classic. I loved it. For me, this is one of the best films I’ve seen this year! – read full review:  HorrorMovies.ca

“Flat out fantastic!” – Harry Knowles, Ain’t It Cool News
“An incredible wealth of talent embedded into each frame of the film.”– Mike McCutchen, Ain’t It Cool News
“The film seems to have sprung from one of the darker corners of Wes Anderson’s subconscious.” – A.V. Club
“The film is flawless from start to finish.” – Collider.com
“Funny, horrifying, theatrical, abstract, allegorical, and mysterious.”– Exberliner
“This has midnight cult title written all over it.” – Hollywood Reporter
“Wonderfully twisted.” – IGN.com
“A pitch black comedy.” – TwitchFilm
“Downright bizarre.” – Uproxx.com
Twisted and trashy…A dark fairy tale of sorts with everything from darkly throbbing Lynchian undercurrents, outré touches of scifi and more than a soupcon of camp a la John Waters” – Entertainment Today
Unique, eerie, and surprisingly affecting, Chryssos’ debut is a treat.” – Cinehouse
It’s a hell of an experience to stomach, but dammit, even if you can’t come up with an answer to Der Bunker on your own, the ride is still worth it. – wegotthiscovered.com
It’s also a visually beautiful film and in it’s weird beauty I couldn’t help but compare it to Wes Anderson, that is if Wes Anderson made weird films about bunker families. – ukhorrorscene.co.uk
Der Bunker is an impressive piece of work, reflecting a distinctive sensibility and a swarming intelligence that questions the more commonplace rhythms of narrative order. – twitchfilm
“Verging somewhere between The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a Rotten Tomato top-lister, Greek-German director Nikias Chryssos gives us something that is warped and trashy in one hit.” – Theupcoming.co.uk
Der Bunker is as strange as a David Cronenberg film and as fun as a Terry Gilliam movie.” – popculturebeast

Screenings
2015 - Fantaspoa Film Festival
2015 - Mauvais Genre Gene Film Festival
2015 - Fantastic Fest
2015 - Beyond Fest
2016 - Edinburgh Dead By Dawn Film Festival
2016 - Cleveland International Film Festival
2016 - Cinedelphia Film Festival
2016 - Amsterdam Imagine Film Festival
2016 - Istanbul Independent Film Festival
2015 - Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival
2015 - Berlin Film Festival
2015 - Los Angeles Beyond Film Festival
Awards
Fantaspoa Film Fesitval 2015 - Best Actor (Daniel Fripan)
Mauvais Genre Film Festival 2015 - Prix du Jury
Mauvais Genre Film Festival 2015 - Prix du Jury de la Critique
Fantastic Fest 2015 - Next Wave Award - Best Film
Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival - Best Director
Director Interview

THE AF INTERVIEW with Nikias Chryssos

Getting Started

AF: Was there a particular event or time that made you realize that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?

NC: I never really felt like saying “I’m a director” before I made the first feature. I would always say “I went to film school” or something like that. Even now I feel it’s just something I want to do, but of course, earning money is also important.

AF: Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

NC: To keep going, I guess. The first spark, the first idea is a bit like falling in love, everything seems wonderful, and then the real work starts.

AF: What was the inspiration for your film, Der Bunker?

NC: I was interested in themes like education, the bond between parents and child, religious communities, power structures. Spending New Year’s with Oona who plays the mother and Pit who plays the student, I felt there was so much chemistry and good vibes going on that I thought I want to shoot a movie with them. The first idea was someone who seeks isolation but ends up getting caught up by strangers he meets on his way. At the beginning, I thought of a female hitchhiker, then a mysterious couple, then a couple with a child.

AF: A very interesting choice, using an adult to play a child. I assume it was because of the breast-feeding scene but was there any other reason?

NC: Klaus is someone who’s stuck between being a child and an adult. I love Daniel Fripan and always want to work with him. So I thought maybe he can play an 8-year-old here. Also, I didn’t want to shoot with children because by law you can only work with them for 2h a day or something like that. J And of course, it brings a lot to the character, an element of mystery and uneasiness. So Klaus was always connected to Daniel Fripan, and I don’t think there are a lot of actors who could have played this role without feeling completely out of place or just ridiculous.

AF: Would it have been problematic using a real child in your country (as it would have been impossible in ours)?

NC: I guess this child would have had to come from a very open family. There was this cover on TIME magazine in May 2012 with a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, asking “Are You Mom Enough?” So maybe they’re not that hard to find.

AF: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?

NC: Be patient, pursuing and be OK with dealing with all the insecurities that a job like this can bring with it – or, as Werner Herzog put it, the “humiliations”. Be interested in as many things as you can, stay curious, read, and generate additional sources of income.

AF: Was there a defining lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your filmmaking? How did that lesson happen?

NC: Maybe that perfectionism can be a blessing and as well as a curse. The feeling that everything has to be perfect from the start can really block you, so giving that up in the right moment of the process, felt very liberating.

AF: You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

NC: Yes, a lot! Sometimes making a movie can feel like conducting an experiment: What happens when you bring these people together in this place? That was true for the characters in the story but also for the people I worked with. I was very happy to find so many great collaborators that I’d be happy to work with again. All the departments crucially contributed to the movie, and that is the nicest and most rewarding way of working for me, when the team expands what you have thought of in the first place.

AF: What was Pit Bukowski like to work with? This is his second film with our label, the first also being a “Der” film, “Der Samurai”.

NC: Pit and me shot a short film together before called THE GRANDFATHER and became friends. I actually met him casting another short film in 2005 when he was still a skateboarding teenager and had just gotten back from his high school year in Texas – but at that time, it didn’t work out. We talked very early about the story and his role in DER BUNKER in long and fun brainstorming sessions. Pit is quite smart, very blunt, and he sometimes reminds me of the young Klaus Kinski and Rutger Hauer. It was nice to cast him in a more subtle role than the ones he often is cast for on TV, like the “rough teenager”.

AF: Were there any unexpected problems during the shoot?

NC: It was an intense shoot, being locked in this psychotic setting for a month with four extreme characters, but we survived, and the nightmares slowly faded. 

AF: Just for my own personal understanding, where did the “alien” subplot originate?

NC: That was something I developed with Oona von Maydell, the actress who plays the mother. We talked a lot about being “possessed” and listened to tapes of exorcisms. She started speaking in a distorted voice and we assumed the mother has someone else living inside here, someone she communicates with, that she functions as the medium for, and who gives her an additional authority and leverage. That’s how Heinrich developed. He’s literally “the wound that doesn’t heal” and I like how the mother puts him in the context of the “faraway prince”, a very romantic idea.

AF: What are personal attributes that make for a good filmmaker, and what do you do to foster them?

NC: Finding the right people to work with, being curious about as many things as possible, developing elephant skin without losing your sense of wonder and naivety.

AF: How does where you live influence how and what you make, and do you think American films currently effect your work and process?

NC: Berlin is a very open, international, and creative city and most people I studied with moved here. I come from Heidelberg which is a smaller town, and I like these contrasts. In general, it’s good so see as many different things as possible and to take your influences from wherever you find them. In this way, I can relate more to many American, Belgium, Greek, Japanese films or filmmakers more than the German ones. But maybe from the outside, DER BUNKER has a lot of German elements, too, which I wasn’t even aware of. Well, I guess the name sounds very German already. Maybe we should have called it DAS BUNKER even.

AF: Why “President of America” rather than someplace closer to home?

NC: For me, the word “President” was mostly a place holder of the highest office in a society, like “the most powerful leader”. In Germany, the President has more representative duties and the real power lies with the Chancellor. And some have noted indeed that Klaus’ hair looks a bit like Angela Merkel’s, the German chancellor. (Or a mixture of her and ET.) I didn’t want to make it too concrete and too German, just as the true nature of the student’s work is left quite open – we just understand that his ambitions are very high.

AF: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?

NC: Honesty, playfulness, a sense of anarchy, strong visuals, a mind that is interested in the world, that challenges the status quo of things, that dares to be an outsider, is just true and liable to itself, and humor. I like if a filmmaker does not cater to a specific, unknown audience but goes all the way in what he or she thinks is the best possible and most interesting and most personal movie he/she can make and then lets the audience deal with it.

AF: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you?

NC: King Kong, Freaks, Casasblanca, The Tenant, Home Alone, The Goonies, 2001, Army of Darkness, Badlands, Two-Lane Blacktop, Zerkalo, Calvaire, The Shining, the Marx Brothers, Tim & Eric, The Simpsons. The list is very long!

AF: When you get angry at a movie, what sets you off? Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike? Is there something you try to subvert or avoid or rebel against in your work?

NC: The too easy or obvious choice of a topic, like the typical social drama with a “relevant” theme that becomes an easy award-winner.

AF: What initially sparked the idea for your movie?

NC: The location and the character of the student, someone looking for isolation and finding all kinds of obstacles on his way. At first, I thought I would shoot this in my grandparents’ old holiday house in Switzerland which had this bunker room behind a thick iron door from Cold War times, and I thought it would be funny that this guy arrives searching for an idyll and is basically immediately locked away.

AF: Generally speaking, when we want to learn about a film, we talk to the director. But those that make films know how much they are really collaborations. What makes a fruitful collaboration? What do you do to enhance the collaborative process?

NC: The best collaborators bring something new to the process, something you hadn’t thought of before, and if you listen, it expands your movie and makes it better. They are the people to turn to when you are in doubt about something, bringing in new ideas, or helping you find out for yourself what the best solution might be. So they can be mirrors, counselors, creative collaborators, friends.

AF: Is it possible to keep from rehashing what has been done before, and if so how do you avoid it?

NC: I think you always build on something that has been done before and my film wears its references more or less on its sleeve while hopefully still forming something that is unique about it. Maybe it’s good to not pressure yourself too much about being original or not. Your own voice will come through Someone said, that your own style develops when you fail in copying others. Maybe that’s true.

AF: What failures (of your own) have you been able to learn from in your filmmaking experience? How did they change you and your process?

NC: In every film, I set myself a little goal. Here, it was to be more playful again, not too conceptual from the beginning. The short film I had made before felt very strict and pre-planned and I wanted something that is quite stylized but also “alive”.

AF: It’s often really hard to reconcile the difference between what we desired and what we achieved. How have you encountered this and how do you move through it?

NC: I think in the end, a project keeps developing and sometimes you forget what you sought to realize in the first place – which can be a good thing as something new has already emerged. In the end, though, I think you only realize a small part of what you were trying to tell anyway – if the ambitions are high enough, that’s probably OK.

AF: When do you know a script is ready to shoot, and what is your process of getting it there?

NC: I guess the script is finished when it’s time to shoot! With DER BUNKER, I first thought I would do this as a kind of “ad-lib” film – just a loose structure of scenes and develop the dialog on the set with the actors. But then I wrote a first draft which I constantly discussed with the actors and my producer. Sometimes I would rewrite scenes during the shoot also. I didn’t want to go in a development process that would take years, as I felt an urgent need to shoot. I had another project that I rewrote what felt like hundreds of times, and it’s still alive, so the approach differs from project to project.

 

About the Director

Nikias Chryssos was born in 1978 in Germany of German-Greek parents. From 2001 to 2002 he studied film and video production at the Surrey Institute of Art & Design in England. From 2002 to 2009 he studied film directing with a focus on Scenic Film at the Film Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg and completed his studies with a diploma.

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Credits
  • Director: Nikias Chryssos
  • Producer: Nikias Chryssos, Hans W. Geissendörfer, Hana Geissendörfer
  • Screenwriters: Nikias Chryssos
  • Cast: Pit Bukowski, Daniel Fripan, Oona von Maydell, David Scheller
  • Cinematography: Matthias Reisser
Product Details
  • Format: DVD / Blu-ray
  • Catalog: ART41
  • UPC: 851597006049 (DVD); 851597006322 (Blu-ray)
  • ISBN: 9781939196460 (DVD); 978-1-939196-72-9 (Blu-ray)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Country: Germany
  • Language: German with English subtitles
  • Rating: NR
  • Year: 2015
  • Length: 85 minutes
  • Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
  • Color: Color
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