Under the Lemon Tree
“You know, I’m from another era,” explains the old man to someone who could someday also become just such an old man. Claudio Schreiber, whose restless spirit led the Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger to declare him “king of the byways,” used to take care of the director Jakob Fischer and his brother. But now the children have grown up, they’ve spotted all the penguins in the zoo, and the (grand)father figure has become a friend who embarks on his final journey with this film. Perhaps the time has come to take care of the person who was once the carer: Claudio is an unreliable narrator who in the smoke of his roll-ups plots his own episodes of air and love; a figure somewhere between storyteller and rockstar, dancing bear and philosopher, who on the basis of a single question can unravel the world’s greatest problems along with their solution.
Fischer carefully pins the camera to Claudio’s movements, which provide the tact here; in the montage, the steady change of settings records the protagonist’s restlessness within the film’s form. This roughly eighty-year-old man, captivated by the sea, as he says, likes best of all to be on the move. From off camera, Fischer’s voice sorts out the adventure, refers to what has happened between the recordings, questions the gaze at the person that he features. But what this film shows is a connectedness; one that is incessantly tangible as it transgresses spaces, times, and other borders. Life, it’s a project, a process that is performed on the main roads of this world, as we learn from Der König der Seitenpfade: “If you have no expectations then you stay forever young.” (Anne Küper)
Claudio Schreiber, whom director Michael Glawogger once declared “king of the byways” for his chronic discontinuity, lived by the motto: “If you have no expectations, then you stay forever young.” Jakob Fischer, for whom Claudio was a quasi–friend, father, and grandfather, sets off on a final journey with him: on a ship to Greece. (Diagonale 2022, cw)
For many years I had been planning to make a film about Claudio, and once his health started to deteriorate, I knew I couldn't stall any longer. So, I accompanied him on his annual trip to Greece. He was already 80 years old, although he would have said "quatre-vingt", 20 times 4. It was him and I and a camera. Anyone else would have been too much, and would have disturbed the spontaneity of our conversations. This way he often forgot I was even filming him. I asked him short questions and he gave me long answers. While I was editing the film, he passed away, so it took me quite some time before I was able to work on it again. Another reason being, that I had to admit to myself that the film would never be able to describe everything that Claudio was. So my approach became much more atmospheric. Showing what it was like to spend time with him. As a possible answer to the question: "What was he like, that Claudio?" (director's note)
Der König der Seitenpfade