"The East Germans started in the 1970's, with their allies, on an ambitious, secret project to colonise the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. You didn't know that, did you? Finn reveals all: with beautiful archive material, swinging musical numbers in retro-socialist style, beautiful miniature sets, guinea pigs and a dramatic plot theory.
Jim Finn has made a name for himself in recent years as a short film maker, thanks to his feeling for irony and his capacity to shape something new from propaganda, news and other historic images. Not to forget his very dry sense of humour. Two years ago, he was given a grant for a short musical film about a secret space project in the early 1970s involving an attempt by East German cosmonauts and their allies to establish socialist colonies on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. As Finn got on with building his models and the shooting days approached, his project started to grow. He couldn’t complete it alone, however, so he received help from various different quarters. The result is his first full-length film, filled with plot theories, guinea pigs and beautiful miniature sets, unique visual and above all sound material: hip choreographed musical numbers in which you can see that the makers have wrestled their way through the entire oeuvre of Busby Berkeley, with retro 1970s music that makes it difficult to stop tapping your feet. There are also moments of tranquility in the almost abstract scenes about the infinity and banality of German-language space travel." - International Film Festival Rotterdam
Interkosmos started out in 2003 as a short film about
an East German space mission whose communist mascot was the "meerschweinchen"
or guinea pig. Planned as a sequel to my film about the capitalist
"wustenspringmaus" or gerbil, it began to grow to include
a space capsule interior, humans in costume, and a dance number.
I wanted the film to look as if I had been allowed to edit audio
and film footage from the East German space archives. Many of
the scenes are recreations and variations of actual training photos
of the cosmonauts. The music is original, but I gave recordings
of 70s German pop and international communist songs to the musicians
for inspiration. I wanted the energy and idealism of the Marxist
left to be a part of the film and to create a communist love story
in the process as well as a kind of funeral dirge for a 75-year-old
experiment in social and economic engineering.
Though the film is made in the style of a
70s documentary, it has the structure of a Hollywood musical.
There is a musical number every 8-12 minutes, which was about
standard in the MGM musicals. There is an overture, exit music,
and a kind of intermission to the film— - the field hockey
number is right in the middle. A real intermission would not
have worked in a 71-minute film. After nearly two years of trying
to figure out the story and how to make it, we built the sets
and started filming in March 2005. Though the story was mostly
worked out ahead of time, I did not actually write the script
until after filming. After a number of revisions, I had the
dialogue and letters translated into German and found the voice
actors to dub the film. I cannot give enough thanks to the arts
community in Chicago as well as family, friends and collaborators
who helped with suggestions, sewing, gripping, shopping, driving,
loading and hammering among other things.