Director's statement: Pascal Hofmann
Both a cosmopolitan and a loner, a man of the world and a Grisons bedrock, Not Vital reconciles contradictions, but will not easily adapt. To participate in my portrayal of him was only interesting for Not Vital if something "new" and "independent" would emerge. Storytelling, exaggeration and condensation - all stylistic devices in Vital's own artistic repertoire - thus became my guide.
NOT ME is my third artist portrayal film. The first two - about a musician and about a film director - I realised in co-direction with the Zurich filmmaker Benny Jaberg. For the current project I also worked with Benny, who is responsible for the wonderful cinematography already awarded the "Deutscher Kamerapreis 2020". NOT ME is my first film about a visual artist. While I enter new territory with every project, with this particular one I was able to draw on my own experiences as connecting points.
"When you describe someone, you are actually describing yourself", said Daniel Schmid in our artist portrait "Le chat qui pense". This statement reveals important aspects of my work. As a film author, I also explore how the art of my counterpart resonates with my inner self, searching for the intersections. Having grown up in the Grisons mountains myself, I am interested in the artistic exploration of my alpine homeland.
Childhood dreams and longings often remain lifelong driving forces within us. NOT ME explores what role they play in Vital's work. He himself says: "Perhaps a free man is simply one who can realize his dreams. When I think of my childhood dreams, the more of them I could realize, the freer I felt. Ever since I was seven I wanted to go away or become a sculptor. But absolute freedom doesn't exist". The film thus tells a universal story - beyond the individual and specific. After studying oeuvre and vita, I was convinced: Not Vital has to be approached with an open mind and intuition. The keys to Vital's work are imagination, suggestion and dreams, so that fiction plays into reality again and again. While reluctant to explain everything, I did not want to lose myself in transfiguration.
To portray Not Vital's alter ego in the form of a little boy was initially a simple idea. In the course of the work on NOT ME, however, this little boy was discussed critically again and again. What does he really stand for? Is he a metaphor for the innocent gaze of a boy at our planet? Am I that boy too? "There's a lot of you in there too", Not told me when I first showed him the rough cut. This project came into my life at a time when my father was seriously ill. The confrontation with my dying father, my own life, my own childhood, inevitably crept into my work on NOT ME. And my questions to Not were mostly also questions to myself. For a long time I struggled with the knowledge that the farewell to my father, and with it my own history became tangible in the film. Intuitively, however, I also knew that there must be room for this sincerity toward my protagonist.