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Up the stairs

Director: Mia Maariel Meyer

DE, 2015, 92 min, Color

Logline:

Adam is a gambler. He manipulates slot machines to lessen the mountain of debt which his once gambling addicted father Woyzeck has piled up. Suffering from dementia Woyzeck lives a lonesome and locked up existence in their little family house on the edge of prefabricated housing blocks. The well-functioning life of the two begins to falter when Adam's sixteen-year-old son Ben suddenly shows up. Adam's attempts to be a father to Ben fail and push him into the hands of the Kiez gangster Bardo, who drags him into his criminal activities. Adam sets off and fights for his son.

 

“Up the stairs” is a complex father-son story that centers on the themes of “heritage”, “responsibility” and “greed”. The film tells  the story of three generations that all individually become culprit and victim simultaneously, driven by their addictions and aspirations.

poster treppe webseite
 

Up the stairs

Director: Mia Maariel Meyer

DE, 2015, 92 min, Color

Logline:

Adam is a gambler. He manipulates slot machines to lessen the mountain of debt which his once gambling addicted father Woyzeck has piled up. Suffering from dementia Woyzeck lives a lonesome and locked up existence in their little family house on the edge of prefabricated housing blocks. The well-functioning life of the two begins to falter when Adam's sixteen-year-old son Ben suddenly shows up. Adam's attempts to be a father to Ben fail and push him into the hands of the Kiez gangster Bardo, who drags him into his criminal activities. Adam sets off and fights for his son.

 

“Up the stairs” is a complex father-son story that centers on the themes of “heritage”, “responsibility” and “greed”. The film tells  the story of three generations that all individually become culprit and victim simultaneously, driven by their addictions and aspirations.

Synopsis

Synopsis

Adam is a gambler who spends his time in casinos and gambling dens. He is anything but a common gambler though, he manipulates slot machines and uses the stolen money to square his father’s debts. Once a gambling addict, Adam’s father Woyzeck is now suffering from a severe case of dementia. His existence is limited to the confinement of a small, run down once family owned house Adam and Woyzeck share, located on the brink of industrialized apartment blocks. The family home represents the last shreds of prosperity the family managed to clasp to, which Adam is struggling to maintain. Amongst his strolls through the gambling dens, Adam has befriended Ukrainian bartender Dosie. Even though he cannot open himself up to her, he is repeatedly drawn to visit her. These visits provide a slice of hope to his monotonous routine.

This entire structure begins to stagger when suddenly Adam’s sixteen-year-old son appears at his doorstep. Ben has broken all ties with his father and lives in a different city with his mother. Amongst attempts of rapprochement and accusations it becomes increasingly eminent, that school-expelled and socially alienated Ben is just searching for a quick way to get cash and run away. The search for money and freedom pushes him into the arms of the paranoid loner Bardo. Ben’s quick-wittedness as well as his callousness impress Bardo, who eventually offers him a job as his runner. Bardo sells licenses, which allow gamblers to hack slot machines. He uses Ben to collect the levies.

The further Ben dives into the matter of the game, the more he uncovers his own family history. Adam on the other hand is crippled with feelings of remorse and tries to push Ben onto the right track. Motivated by Dosie, Adam tries to spend more time with his son. Adam wants to give Ben the childhood, he himself never had. Meanwhile the situation between Adam, Woyzeck and Ben becomes increasingly difficult. Adam’s attempts to be a father fail and push Ben even closer towards Bardo. Bardo shows Ben how to prove himself in the neighborhood and to manipulate gambling addicts. Adam stops believing in his own ability to be a good father. Ben feels betrayed. At this point Adam must learn to let go and to fight for his own family. His journey begins.

Credits

Cast and Crew

CREW:
Director: Mia Maariel Meyer
Screenplay: Mia Maariel Meyer
DoP: Marco Braun
Sound: Adel Gamedahr
Editing: Anne Kliem
Music: Martin Wandere
Production Company: Onni GmbH
Producers: Patrick Wolff, Marco Leberling, Mia Maariel Meyer


CAST:
Hanno Koffler
Christian Wolff
Matti Schmidt-Schaller
Karolyna Lodyga
Patrick Wolff
Ken Duken
Antonio Wannek

Biography

Biography

Mia Maariel Meyer is an award winning filmmaker and writer with a distinctive cinematic visual style. She has worked as a writer, director in New York, London and Berlin. To date she has created over 25 short and medium length films as well as various documentaries and commercials. Her films In 2012 she won the Grimme Online Award for the documentary series „140sekunden“ together with Tim Klimes. Despite working as a director, Mia is passionate about teaching directing which she does at the Schauspielfabrik Berlin amongst other institutions.

Interview

Director's note

“Up the stairs” is a complex father-son story that centers on the themes of “heritage”, “responsibility” and “greed”. The film tells the story of three generations that all individually become culprit and victim simultaneously, driven by their addictions and aspirations.

The grandfather gambles away everything, is crippled by the early on-set of dementia and robbed of the power to recognize his mistakes. The son, fails as a father himself and tries to ridden himself of his remorse through false play. Lastly, the grandson, he has never been able to properly get to know his father and now does everything in his power to hurt him. The grandfather’s gambling addiction affects relationships within the following generations. It has become the core theme of the sons and the most hatred topic of the grandson’s life.

A very fascinating aspect of film making is the possibility to demonstrate, as well as dissect a social environment and a psychological state through the emotional interactions of characters. Even though gambling addiction and the disintegration of families is a large topic in Germany, in film it is usually only examined in a one-dimensional and rather stereotypical manner.

"Up the stairs" is family drama with a happy end, in which gambling remains the catalyst of all conflict. It was very important to me that the film does not center on addiction but rather on its strains on a family, such as the chain reaction spurred by the grandfather that trickles through three generations.

Why is gambling not the main theme? There are over 200 000 registered gambling addicts in Germany, a quarter of which is have debts above 25 000 Euros. Among all addictions, gambling is the one that demands the highest suicide rate by 5%.

More than 25 years of market research have been conducted in this industry. Every sound, every button is designed to tempt the player with hopes that will never be fulfilled. The environment of gambling addicts, their fascination with the game, their need to gamble their entire existence in order to once catch a lucky break is unimaginable for anyone surveilling such a scene.

In this production I am looking for a way, in which not to make a typical German suburbian film. It will instead focus much more on the environment and the microcosm of the family as well as its absurdity. My strongest inspiration has come from “Kitchen Sink Realism”, directors such as Lynne Ramsey (Ratcatcher), Andrei Zvagintsev (The Return) and the Dardenne Brothers. Besides displaying the environment’s crudeness I plan to demonstrate it in an absurd way. I plan on using a strong symbiosis between electronic music imagery, inspired by Windig Reffs “Drive” and Nan Goldins pictures.

Festivals

Festivals

Internationale Hofer Filmtage
Internationales Filmfest Braunschweig
Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis
Sehsüchte Film Festival
Achtung Berlin
Festival des Deutschen Films, Ludwigshafen
International Uruguay Film Festival
Cinema Jove Film Festival
New Directors New Films Film Festival
Indy Film Fest Indianapolis
Lucania Film Festival