Music/Film: Tea with Mary Ocher - Part I: Film

"Mother, mother, mother, why did you not bear a son?.."
- Mary Ocher stands in a corner, her powerful voice echoes through Terra Music Bar in Berlin.
 It's a very intimate show. Candles give the only light, there is no stage, just Mary and her guitar, each song is followed by a quiet "Thank you." She's a wonderful sight with her big glasses and bright blonde hair and when she plays her last song we are sad it's over.

Two hours earlier in Mary Ocher's flat:

Her cat greets us. "He's not normally this friendly.", she tells us. "He's probably trying to say: I'm the one who broke that lamp you really really liked." Mary is very sweet and at first even a little quiet, despite her eccentric appearance. She makes us tea and we sit at a large kitchen table. I remember a black board on the wall with something nice written on it, now I wish I had a picture...or had at least written down what it said...
There are three main themes we want to talk to her about: Film, Travelling/Living in Berlin as an Artist and Music.

 - This is Part I: FILM

INTERVIEW: Kilian, Poppy

In Part I: Film, we talk about one of Mary's films: The documentary All my problems are imaginary (but my friends are real).

Mary: Somebody actually told me they only watched 10 minutes of the documentary, so I thought: „Fuck, that’s such a bad sign!"

Poppy: Well, I did watch the whole thing and thought it was really good.  It was about friends of yours who are artists. You asked questions about their problems and it was interesting to hear different answers and  different people talking about the same problems. So how did you get the idea?

Mary: Well, I was reading Andy Warhol’s autobiography and he mentioned something quite optimistic, that when his friends talk about their problems, he just kind of forgets about his. It distracts him.
I thought it was just a very fresh way to look at it. 'Cause normally I’m thinking so much about my problems, that I’m just feeling that it’s not really healthy and it’s not really helping. So I though “Well, I’m really curious to hear what other people consider their problems. Because it could really shine a new light on your problem.

Poppy: What reactions did you get from the people you interviewed and the audience? The people you interviewed spoke very openly, so what did they say when they saw the film?

We did one screening, maybe we’ll do more. So it was the first time and some people didn’t really know what they thought of it. Everybody was trying to compare themselves to the people and I’m just really happy that the people who were in it were all kind of different.

Yeah, you really noticed there was a good mix of people. Often you would get completely opposite answers to the same question. Did you think about that when you chose who you wanted to interview?

M: Well, I thought of people who had interesting stories and who were also close friends. And nobody said that they wouldn’t want to do it, because I though maybe some would think that it was too personal,, exposed. But they were all okay with it.

Everyone very honest, which surprised me. At first I though people would be kind of shallow, because nobody really wants to open up about their problems like that. Did you have to coax them into being that open or was there a certain way you tried to make them feel comfortable?

No, no, I sort of made them treat the camera like a person and as I was the only other person in the room they felt comfortable, they trusted me. My only worry was that maybe when they watched the “product” they would feel they said something that they didn’t want to say or feel uncomfortable about the way they said things. But luckily, I think there were maybe just two sentences, two things, that different people said they wanted to cut, little details.

Why did you chose artists, I mean, because you have many friends who are artists or…

Just because… I think almost everyone  I know is an artist, I think I have almost no friends who are not doing some kind of art.

You can watch All my problems are imaginary (but my friends are real) here

In part two we talk about Travelling/Living in Berlin as an Artist