Thanks to films such as “The Wall”, “The Baader Meinhoff Complex” and “The Lives of Others”, Martina Gedeck is one of Germany’s most important actresses of our time, and she also has a great love for art house cinema. Also “The Silent Trabants” by director Thomas Stuber is anything but a blockbuster. It is a quiet and intense film about people from the lower fringe of mainstream society who struggle with their loneliness and a pronounced lack of love and closeness.

In an interview with, Martina Gedeck tells, among other things, what appeals to her about this poetic material and how she prepared for the physically and mentally intimate scenes with her partner Nastassja Kinski. Ms. Gedeck, did you already know the stories by Clemens Meyer on which the film is based when the inquiry came?

Martina Gedeck: No, I only read the book afterwards and, to be honest, I really couldn’t imagine how it all came together in the end. When the script came in, I saw that it all came together very well. I found it exciting how it transitions from one character to the next and they all revolve around each other.

What interests you in general about a project? What does it have to bring with it for you to accept?

In general, it always has something to do with what the film tells. Whether it’s something that interests me and that I can imagine people wanting to see and that it will bring them something. Does the film tell something about us, does it concern us in any way? And there isn’t that much, or you’ve seen everything 1000 times. I like projects that are different, new. Of course, when I get an offer like “The Diary of Anne Frank” or “The Baader Meinhof Complex”, then it’s a little different. These are important topics and are interesting in and of themselves.

And what particularly appealed to you about poetic material like “The Silent Trabants”?

They are people from our world, our time, our society. People you might meet on the street. I like that about this. That’s exactly what I liked about Thomas Stuber’s last film (“In the gangs” – editor’s note). That’s when I thought: man, that would be an interesting director…

So does it also influence your decision as to who is responsible for a film?

It’s the be-all and end-all. The director makes the film, and I know that Thomas Stuber loves poetry. That he loves to take a close look, to show people, not just superficially, but to make visible and tangible what they are feeling. This is so important and also so beautiful. It’s what’s special about his films. People don’t always have to wear their hearts on their sleeves, but you still know what’s going on with them and how they’re doing. So it was more or less a secret wish of mine to work with Thomas Stuber. I knew that he wouldn’t do it in a cheesy way or turn it into a sentimental number, but rather stick to reality.

In the film there are intimate scenes between you and Nastassja Kinski that you would not have expected at first and for which the chemistry between the two of you was surely important?

Absolutely. We met beforehand, because the makers of the film also have to know whether it fits, whether it works. And even then I loved it with her. Nastassja is very open, very permeable and soft. She adapts completely to the other person. I like that. But neither is it predictable. She acts entirely on her own. This creates moments that are new. It’s different every time, never routine. When it became clear that we would make the film together, we kept in touch and rehearsed with Thomas Stuber. We had two or three rehearsal days where we touched things up a bit. Luckily, the night shoots ended up being long and intense. Having enough time is often the secret. And with Nastassja it was just right, because she has something shy and at the same time something very direct. An interesting combination.

The Christa you play is a quiet, lonely woman in search of closeness. What particularly touched or challenged you about this character?

She is very caught up in herself, actually paralyzed. She’s been humiliated, and that anger runs deep inside her. She can’t find a place for it and doesn’t know how to put it, who to talk to about it. And actually she doesn’t even want to talk to Birgitt when she meets her for the first time. She says, “Leave me alone. What do you want from me?” That she then slowly opens up to her about the few sentences that she says and with which she doesn’t tell her whole life straight away. She doesn’t talk about herself or say things like “Oh I’m so lonely” or “I feel bad”. It’s just between the lines, and I found that fascinating. You see someone who is actually full to the brim and wants to say it all, but just can’t. And yet you can see it on her. The acting is very exciting and exciting, and also difficult.

Christa is a female character that you rarely see in the cinema. In your opinion, has anything changed in recent years when it comes to the portrayal of women?

I do think that women are now told differently. In any case. For example, I’m currently playing a role in a miniseries that a man would have played in the past. A woman who asserts herself and takes power. And the man plays what the woman used to be. He is the introverted sufferer in the victim position.

What’s it like behind the scenes? Are there more women in positions such as director and camera that were previously considered male domains?

Yes, many young female directors are currently being employed. That’s good, even if I find that sometimes it’s artificial. But maybe that is still necessary today. Nevertheless, there are many very good male directors, and as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t always have to be a woman. It still seems like a battle of the sexes. But of course, for years I only worked with men, there were almost never women who directed. Therefore, there is probably no other way at the moment. I think in art, ability and talent count, regardless of gender or skin color.

The old sorrow of the quota. Women would like to be hired for their performance, not their gender…

It is generally difficult that you always have to relate to your outside. On how you are perceived. We would all like to be freer, whether man or woman. You want to free yourself from the fact that someone is constantly telling you how you have to be and judging you. There’s a lot of pressure there, I think, and it’s counterproductive. If I have the feeling that I have to prove myself with the character, the role, with my work, then I’m not free. Then I am not alive, but embedded in concrete.

A pressure that was certainly greater at the beginning of your career than it is today, when you are one of the most important actresses in Germany?

Of course, you have to prove yourself at the beginning. Showing that you have a passion for acting, a talent… and that you’re hardworking and dependable. Otherwise it doesn’t work. We didn’t have to deal with social media in the past, but there were other things for that. I was under a lot of pressure back then. The decision-makers were men, which fortunately is somewhat absent today. Because then you also relate to men, flirt, dress up, make yourself pleasant. But you also do that for women when they have the power and there are many female producers, for a long time.

Now one has the feeling – certainly also due to various postponements due to the pandemic – that you have been pretty busy lately. What’s next?

I also make music or reading concerts with musicians, with whom I recite. There will be some of these again next year. Otherwise, I’m currently shooting for the aforementioned mini-series entitled “Heligoland”. It’s half over, it’ll continue in February and March. Other things are being planned, but not yet ready for a decision.

Nicole Ankelmann spoke to Martina Gedeck

“The Silent Trabants” will be shown in cinemas from December 1st.