ARTISTS is a multi-layered, independently produced feature-length trilogy. On its surface it’s about the everyday lives of artists based in Berlin, as they search for the meaning of art and their purpose in life; their struggles, their successes, their loves, and their losses. Together, they represent a generation of artists in crisis. Underneath their individual stories, the films also reveal the power of the camera, the effect it has on us, the way it gives us courage, and the way it changes our personalities. Underlying the episodic storytelling, the films explore the actual filmmaking process, not only by including the crew, but also by exposing the audience to behind-the-scenes footage and combining multiple forms of the genre, ultimately creating a uniquely honest documentary.
Besides weaving the making of story into the actual films, ARTISTS consciously explores the different documentary forms in order to question the authenticity of documentary films in general. Mostly scenes were shot in an observational style, intimately focusing on our characters’ ordinary lives, but within this framework we often used a participatory approach, including the crew and the production process in the narrative and acknowledging the effect our presence had on the situations we filmed. Still other scenes were shot in a cinema verité style, involving improvisation and reenactment, prompting the viewer to wonder what is real and what’s not, as well as question the reliability of memory. Other scenes were performative, experimental, and poetic. And finally, a voice-over narrator guides us through the films, giving us any necessary background information and reflecting on what we are watching.