New stills have been released in a long interview with director Julian Rosefeldt.
You have an extraordinary collaborator in all this, the actor Cate Blanchett. She inhabits thirteen different roles set against twelve different scenarios. How did these characters and their dialogue evolve?
The main idea for Manifesto was not to illustrate the particular manifesto texts, but rather to allow Cate to embody the manifestos. Until the last third of the twentieth century there were only a few manifestos written by women artists. Most were written by men and they are just bursting with testosterone. So I thought it was thrilling to let them be spoken today by a woman.
One challenge was the huge amount of text to be spoken in twelve different accents which Cate had to overcome. And then each of the characters had to speak in a milieu represented by the colour of speech. As if this weren’t enough, for organisational shooting reasons sometimes we even had to cover two roles per day, which also meant an additional costume and makeup change each day for Cate and the hair and makeup team. For these reasons, we had to plan the shoot meticulously. But, here and there, a certain amount of spontaniety and improvisation was necessary. And of course Cate might have read the text or understood the respective scene differently from me, and so sometimes she surprised me with ideas, emerging from the depths of her profound experience and incredible talent. Every day was different and the way that the dialogue – or better, monologue – shaped the scene was constantly shifting and exciting. And despite the highest level of concentration and dedication, and the many working hours each day, Cate admirably retained her very special sense of humour during work. We laughed a lot.
In Manifesto you have used a Sol LeWitt text about Conceptual Art for a scene in which Cate Blanchett plays two characters, a news anchor and a reporter, both called ‘Cate’. What is their relationship to LeWitt’s text?
This is an exceptional scene in a way. Rather than performing a manifesto, Cate is inhabited by LeWitt’s writing. She is the manifesto. The tussle between logic and illogic within the text is also inherent in the scene and the characters. It becomes a piece of conceptual art in a way, right?