Stars of Dresden: Michael Nathansky

One of our top festivals open for submissions on FFL, Filmfest Dresden, recently just wrapped with its prize-giving ceremony. To celebrate, we’ll be taking a look at some of the filmmakers that won accolades as part of our new “Stars of Dresden” series.

That’s what we call a German splash. After premiering his short GABI at the Berlinale, Michael Nathansky scooped up the Golden Horseman Audience Prize in the National Competition. Deeply interested in questions of being at one with your inner self, he decided to explore these topics through the life of a German floor tiler. An immensely talented filmmaker, here’s his story.

Michael’s first filmmaking steps

I started writing poems, super cheesy poems about what I would call “wannabe philosophical topics”. Then those poems became dialogues, dialogues that were basically observations of the people in my hometown Cologne. These dialogues became scripts. And then at the same time I participated in documentary workshops, where the scripts became my first films.

Michael’s current title

My current film is called “GABI” and it tells the story of a woman, who starts to rehearse everyday-life situations, hoping to find the contact to her own emotions again.
It’s a very personal story in the sense that I also sometimes wish that I could somehow wake myself up, because I feel that I am not very close to myself. I thought that it would be nice to “transplant” this inner conflict into the life of a floor tiler. And then I watched films that concerned these questions of self-reflection, such as by Woody Allen, and I watched films that tell the stories of hard working people, for example by the Dardenne Brothers. During the process of writing and shooting, creating this mixture was the biggest challenge.

Michael’s festival strategy

We were very lucky to run at the Berlinale, where we had the chance to get in contact with a lot of people. I think it always helps to look at the profile of the festivals, and check yourself if your film fits to it. But I have to say, that the festival world is still very new for me and I am starting to discover it right now.

Michael’s festival memories

I really liked Filmfest Dresden, where we also won the Audience Price. Something very interesting happened during a screening that unfortunately I couldn’t attend. The festival made a special version of the film, so that blind people could also experience it. And during the Q&A, the producer of the film Virginia Martin asked one of the blind spectators whether they liked the film. He gave one of the most beautiful answers, showing that he had understood everything (and maybe more) of what we had tried to tell with the film. For the first time, I didn’t feel bad for having too much dialogue in a film.

Michael’s future steps

After shooting “GABI” the one thing I knew was that I wanted to work with the lead actress Gisa Flake again. I feel like I still haven’t found the answers I tried to find by making “GABI”, so for the next project I am staying with these same questions and conflicts. It’s not that I think that I will ever find the answers, but I know that there is still a lot to ask!


Andrew Wilkin

Andrew Wilkin is the Client and Community Support Coordinator at FFL. His editorial background has involved working at unlike. His film experience has included a position at moviepilot. Reach him at