Podcast no. 2

14th of January 2018


Welcome to the second edition of ” Little Man ” .

I am Kristian Kiehling and this is a monthly podcast covering everyday life from a filmmakers point of view .


part two : “The Little Man’s Headbutt”


Do you remember me telling you about my new friend the “little man”?

Well,during the last couple of weeks he went on a tour

to visit his relatives.I guess,most of us do this in the festive season. In his case however he had to travel far and wide because he was born in a different country.Like for any true child of Europe the necessity of crossing borders and engaging in inter-cultural dialogue comes natural to him.I think we both share the universal need of making ourselves understood across cultural boundaries-in a world that is growing increasingly segregated and ever more encased in new borders-both nationally and culturally.I still remember the fall of the Berlin wall nearly 30 years ago quite vividly.In January of 1990 my father took us to Berlin.He wanted to make a point of personally attacking the Berlin wall with a somewhat inadequate tool-a small rubber handled steel hatchet.If I remember correctly nothing much came of it except some bright sparks even though my father applied all the strenght of a grown man into trying to chopp some splinters off of the massive concrete border wall that partitioned the West from the East.My father and his four siblings had fled the east German sector before the wall was built and so he perceived this monstrous monument as an obstacle to his own freedom as well as to everybody elses.

When I think back now to this trip to Berlin with my family the significance of my fathers feelings towards this man-made monstrosity were not clear to me back then.On the contrary-I thought he was a goofy old man embarrassing himself and his family with this stunt.Now I am a grownup myself and I think I do understand his motives a little better .He wanted to be there.He personally wanted to help bring down this man made injustice.I understand now that walls are ridiculous and utterly inhumane.And what’s more by now I feel I also have to do my part to bring down walls wherever they are erected.Why?

Lets assume for a moment that we are are looking at our planet from an Astronauts point of view.Scientists working on the International space station for instance have often commented on the beauty of planet earth and how the fact that no borders and walls are visible from outer space changes ones perspective on humanity. Contemplating this luminescent globe floating in a sea of darkness seems to make the beholder think of the fragility of our home as well as of the fact that everything is connected:the vast seas,the land masses,the weather systems-what happens in one corner of the world will always affect the rest.We truly share this planet with everyone.In this respect the International Space Station also serves as a great model of how our species has evolved from the antagonistic term “space race” towards a more collaborative “space exploration” where there are no winners and loosers.There is only one human race and our only home is planet earth.

You know,my friend the “Little Man” gave me some food for thought while he was abroad.In his absence I recalled that he has a certain way of showing his affection with a unique gesture.He tilts his head slightly forward and makes a nasal sound that resembles someone clearing his troat-like this: “chm,chm”.This is his signal to you to join him.He then leans towards your forehead to connect his cranium with yours in the gentlest way possible.I call this the “Little Man’s headbutt”.Now this peculiar “coup de tete” I find remarkeable as it embodies the essence of human nature in one single gesture:our ability for gentle love as well as our capacity for brute force.

And because we all carry both qualities within us at all times,containing and eventually subverting violence into a positive force for the good of all peoples is the political fundament of a truly democratic society.

A friend of mine recently told me how she walked past a prison located in the inner city of Hamburg in Germany.Suddenly she could see a prisoner standing at one of the windows across the yard looking out on to the street.She had the impulse of waving at him and when she did,the prisoner waved back at her.Just like that!It was not a taunt by the way-It was a moment of true contact.

When I think of making films this image stands out to me as a watershed.Many of us would perceive this same situation in a protagonist/antagonist kind of way like they do in the narratives and imagery of Hollywood films:The person behind bars is a criminal and he is rightfully punished for what he did.He and I are not the same.He did not follow the rules and so he has lost his rights.Therefore he is inside a prison and I am outside-it’s simple.

But there are also many people to whom such an image is not so simple at all.For them such an image is ambiguous and it raises questions about the nature of justice for instance.These people would not see the difference in between the prisoner and the free citizen but rather the things they have in common.When I make films I am interested in this perspective.Berthold Brecht once said that he pities the country that needs heroes.I am very sceptical of simple narratives and to me much of contemporary cinema is still to a great and unhealthy degree influenced by the imagery of Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph Of The Will”.Even the contemporary blockbuster scores of the likes of Hans Zimmer are to my ears more like humdrum military marches coercing the audience into emotions with brute force.I also do not understand the argument that television series represent a unique way of storytelling.I know from professional experience that television serials are like comupter games:designed to be addictive with the sole purpose to maximise profit for those who make them.

In my understanding the craft of film should not be a commodity that is sold to people simply to be consumed.I regard film as a language that serves to communicate in between the filmmaker and the audience.Instead of reducing the audience to a peeping tom-a voyeur-I rather believe that film can be a tool for dialogue.When I make a film I want it to be as complex and ambiguous as the “Little Man’s headbutt”.At this point I’ll have to admit that I am only beginning to discover how this could be done.Today for instance I have met my friend the “Little Man” again after a two week seperation and you know what happened?I opened my arms and shouted his name but he looked down!He seemed embarrased and could not find a way to express his emotions on the spot.Whereas I was acting conventionally,his reaction was much closer to the truth of the moment.How often have you seen actors throwing their arms around each other in cheap films,acting the chliche of a situation instead of being truthfull?I was also embarrassed but I overrode my emotions.He on the other hand was being real.


This was the second edition of ” Little Man ” . Thank you very much for listening . The next installment of “Little Man” will follow in one months time – around the 14th of February 2018 .


I am Kristian Kiehling

Stay tuned .

Podcast no. 1

3rd of December 2017


Welcome to the first installment of ” Little Man ” .

I am Kristian Kiehling and this is a monthly podcast covering everyday life from a filmmakers point of view .

part one :  The ” Little Man “

A short while long ago I had the chance to meet somebody whose perspective on the world was surprisingly different from my own .

We became friends and I gave him the nickname ” Little Man ” .

As it sometimes can happen in good friendships my own perspective of the world began to change a little through the course of our interaction . I mean that in a positive way . After all, we are living in a world of ideas and concepts that are manufactured for us by others . Plus , these days we are subjected to a constant stream of ideas in the digital universe . We seem to be totally wired to a collective conscience but we find ourselves isolated and alone at the same time .

I recently had a conversation with an engineer for example .

He was telling me of a peculiar feeling of his – he said he ‘ d recently discovered a void in his life . He said although he ‘ d been trying to fill this empty space with a hobby he now had arrived at a point where this no longer seemed possible . He explained that he suspected that something might be missing in his life on a spiritual level . He was at a point where he ‘d even contemplated  about becoming involved in religion .

The digital revolution has brought about a massive change to our socio – cultural world .

But despite  certain claims made by a Mr . Zuckerberg for example

virtual reality is not giving us a sense of meaning at all .

On the contrary , the pseudo social networks are void of meaning .

And what ‘ s more – I believe the digital age has even altered our perception of the real world . Anyway that ‘ s what has happened with me and that ‘ s what I want to tell you about .

Not far from where I work there is a small public park . I use it often for the occasional walk .This park has recently gained notoriety as a hub for illegal substances . Naturally this has resulted in conflicts between the drug dealers and local residents . The clients of the dealers are mostly white kids and tourists whereas the dealers are of African origin . This has led to the emergence of racial stereotyping in connection to the drug trade . The police were racially profiling people of color and the conflict went on to become entrenched along the usual lines  . Now I myself read a lot and I therefore assumed to be able to connect the dots . However it turned out I was wrong . I started to notice how my tolerance and respect for my fellow human beings was decreasing . The ” foreigners ” in our park and their illegal business affected me to a point where I started to perceive them as a threat . I was no longer able to view the situation in its wider context . I was shocked to notice that I started blaming the foreigners for everything . I was even experiencing physical discomfort which made me stop going to the park altogether . I just could not take it any more being constantly hustled by the drug pushers . In short , I had lost control . I had closed my mind off of the real world . I had forgotten how to interact with the world around me .

This is where the ” Little Man ” comes in .

At this point I ‘ ll have to mention a certain character trait of his : the Little Man is probably the most unbiased person and he is totally connected to the world around him .

In addition to that he is the only person I know who lives radically off the grid . He seems to go by the ancient Greek wisdom ” treat foreigners like you ‘ d treat your friends because you never know – they might be Gods in human shape ” . The ” Little Man ” walks the streets greeting friends and foreigners indiscriminately . He waves his hand at everybody and goes ” Hi , Hi ” And if somebody doesn’t return the greeting he seems to be saying to himself ” No worries , I ‘ ll get you next time ”  .

Anyway , the Little Man insisted we go to the park together .

I reluctantly agreed . And now something beautiful happened . As soon as the dealers started hustling us he simply greeted them in the friendliest manner . Suddenly , grim faces lightened up and everyone broke into wide smiles . Dealers were waving back at us , wishing us a good day . It even came to a cordial chat here and there . To my surprise I noticed that my vague fear was receding by and by . It began to dawn on me that the threat I had seen in the drug dealers had nothing to do with them .

On the contrary : my fear of them was caused by my warped perception of the situation . And this perception was shaped not by my own experiences with them but rather by the virtual bubble I was living in .

This experience shocked me because I became aware that my way of acting prior to this incident had actually had a negative effect not only on me myself but also on the real world around me .

Before , I had taken the seemingly easy path of labeling the situation in a convenient way . I was no longer aware of the world around me and curious as one should be .

My experience with the ” Little Man ” in the park reminds me of a fundamental fact of film making :

Art represents the possibility of total freedom . It can be a weapon in the struggle against the material world that destroys our spirit .

Art is possibly the last resort we have in a life which should be free of consumption and the pressures of a performance oriented society .

And film making can even be more – it can be a tool for democracy .

Because democracy requires empathy . Empathy for our fellow citizens as well as for those who live among us but are denied citizenship .

You know my parents used to say to me when I was little : ” Never talk to strangers ” because they wanted to protect me .

Now shouldn’t we rather teach our children  exactly the opposite ?

Shouldn’t we rather cultivate dialogue to counter the prevalent erosion of civil discourse ?

That would be a truly alternative draft to the anti social virtual universe that our lives are now wired to .That would be a worthy design for a truly social universe  .

If we were to create such an alternative space to interact with one another on a spiritual and cultural level then maybe even the need for people to escape the reality by using opiates would also go away ? OK ,you might say this is naive .

But after all , the whole concept of us versus them is naive .

There is no other . There is only us .

This was the first installment of ” Little Man ” . Thank you very much for listening . The next installment will follow in one months time –  on the 3rd of January 2018 .

I am Kristian Kiehling

Stay tuned .