For her stark portrayal in the documentary film Aufera, of the life of two men in Cuba, struggling to make a living and trying to escape to a different life, Laurentia Genske is the recipient of TheWIFTS Diversity Award 2015.
Afuera – Why Cuba - Why this subject: As a tourist in Cuba, one often feels a little overpowered – there is so much to offer, you should always buy something, whether you want it or not. You get the impression you are a walking bag of money and the interest shown is faked, to get what really counts – your money. During the time I spent in Cuba, my impression arose that there is a certain distance that arises between Cubans who are working in the tourism sector, and the tourists. This is reinforced by the stereotype, misty-eyed view, that the tourist has on Cubans, like sitting on the roadside smoking a cigar and listening to Buena Vista Social Club. However, the dream of an ideal life outside Cuba often causes envy and resentment among many Cubans - a balancing act between the stereotypes: desperation on one hand and dreams on the other. With my film, I try to break through this distance and take a look behind the scenes. What kind of life does the taxi-driver lead, or the salsa dancer in the dusty bar La Trova in Baracoa? Which risks are they taking by spending time with tourists? With my film, I try to show a different perspective, by giving an insight into the tough and harsh reality of Cuban everyday life of two men, who are striving for a different life.
My approach to documentary filming: For me, the Documentary Filmmaking is comparable to a love relationship. When I am interested in a theme, or in a person, I would like to portray, then I am always intensively from the bottom of my heart dedicated to it. For me, the most important thing is building up an intense relation to the people I portray. I am following them step by step, and always attempting to find their personal truth. I am observing their behavior, trying to see the world through their eyes and getting to know their mysteries and secrets. My aim is finding and capturing these moments of truth in one character's life; that is, always with the intention to create an authentic and true image of the person. I am searching for glances, which are showing so much more than a thousand words. I am interested in strong people, who carry hope in their lives, who, even though they are suffering, still hold onto their dreams. I want to give a voice to the people who can't be heard. As filmmakers, we have the great possibility to call attention to social misfits and injustice. This is why documentary film is so important to me: It's not only giving an insight into the unknown and abducting the viewer into a stranger world. Furthermore, the documentary film has the ability in questioning prejudice-afflicted viewpoints and changing attitudes.
Laurentia Genske was born 1989 in Cologne, Germany. At the age of seven, her career started with photography, with the dream at the time of becoming a photographer. Following her school examination in 2008, she became eagerly interested in moving images, and worked for two years in the media sector and studied to become a camera assistant.
Since 2010, Laurentia has been studying documentary film directing and cinematography at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. From 2012 to 2013, she studied documentary film directing at the International Film and TV School, Cuba (EICTV). Over the last years, she has been involved in several German television productions as director of photography. Genske has two feature film documentaries to her credit: Am Kölnberg (2014) and Afuera (2015), and a short film El Manguito which is in the post production process. The Am Kölnberg film has been a success and has won many prestigious awards: amongst others, the German Documentary Film Award 2015. Am Kölnberg has been running in cinemas across Germany since March 2105.