Christina Heurig

images · art direction · set design

‘The preacher’s realm – set design for “Burning topics” (AT | short film)

Set design for short film “Brennende Themen” (“burning topics”), in which a priest creates in a mockumentary style self-made interviews with a housewife back in 1930s. They discuss the consequences of media for society and – sexuality.⁠

see full article for more portraits and on-set photos.

 

 

The silver lining between moral, ethics and individual desires.

It’s a silver lining between what we are and what we’re supposed to be. A preacher might be an ascetic, holy man – but can he really resign from human pleasures of life?

Where does mental satisfaction start, where does it end? For me, the series provokes a recalibration of spiritualism: what do we need to feel truly fulfilled? It might be more physical than just a prayer.⁠

In the script, the preacher falls in love with the housewife as they try to stage ‘interviews’ about modern ‘technology’ (such as telephones, radios, photography,…) and what these new inventions bring to the social life and sexuality. The preacher remains rather reserved throughout most of the story, whereas the housewife superficially looks innocent – but with time we explore her more frivolous side.

The preacher struggles clearly between the things he’s been taught for years and his real desires. For me, these images sum up his eternal conflict nicely: in a surreal, poetic, nearly spirital way we are invited in his private realm, where his thoughts can roam freely.

I paid a great attention to detail. In the images is for example a 1930s original ‘vibrator’ hidden and a book that says “Is the bible right?” on the title. In these portraits all props lead towards a rather private, intimate feeling: the bed, gramophone (music = emotions), tea pots, vibrator and erotic photos a preacher is forbidden to look at.

 

 

Domestic pre-war setting of 1937: Preacher and housewife discuss modern life (and try to document it on film).

The film is shot in a humorous, mockumentary style: preacher and housewife try to film their discussions on film in the ‘latest’ fashion. He visits her in her home, where the second world war hasn’t arrived yet. Her husband is off to war – and she is bored. While drinking coffee and consuming snacks, they break off the weirdest discussions.

Throughout the scenes I’ve hidden visual hints that refer back to his suppressed sexuality. In the background is for example a nacked women statue (that he’s even caught observing).

This ‘fake’ documentary doesn’t take it too serious with facts in general, so I put some fun into creating my own ‘fake’ microphone. Funnily enough the preacher holds it like a monstrance in a procession.

They do carry on their interview inside, where delicious japanese erotic art is mounted to the wall. In the background is a book prominently visible “Is the bible right at all?”

 

Some behind the scenes from the shoot in April 2019

We were a small team, but all of us worked tightly together.
direction: Caroline Wloka
DOP: Kim Howland