G | 2017 | Documentary | 92 min. | Cinema Release 15|11|2018
Distributor W-Film, Cologne / Language En, Ger, Fr, Norw
Production Countries GER, FRA, USA, GB
Director Susanne Bohlmann Production Menno Döring & Christopher Hawkins Camera Lars Filthaut, Anna Baranowski, Susanne Bohlmann Sound Design Jana Irmert Music Martin Fliegenschmidt & Sebastian Müller-Schrobsdorff
Funding Film- und Medienstiftung NRW
Synopsis What's the price of happiness? In the masterclass of the "Pink Elephants" we get some answers. The class is structured to be a pressure cooker. The leader, Bernard Hiller takes the willing on a high intensity shortcut through life. In his sessions, which take place all over Europe and the USA, he makes the aspiring actors dance, crawl, cry, grovel and grow. He demands they talk about their fear; their barriers. The Hollywood acting- & life-coach takes them to their physical and emotional limits. For many a euphoric cleansing but for some it’s cynical shock therapy. “Pink Elephants” follows very different people making their way through the workshops, documents their highs and lows and questions Hiller´s unconventional methods, somewhat reminiscent of a sect. This journey passes through conflicting truths and perceptions of happiness, manipulation and success. In the end you’ll have to make up your own mind.
"I always asked myself and those around me, what really happens in these classes? How much dependency is healthy and can you be manipulated into health and happiness? If turning our brains off to listen to our heart is good for us or those who would seduce us? And should a good teacher educate us to be independent? And is it only the perspective which sees something sinister in amongst all the euphoria?
After each Masterclass we became wiser and more stupid. We were charmed and repelled in equal measures.
We have calmly and heatedly discussed our questions over again. But no matter how we feel about Bernard Hiller and his controversial methods, he made us think.
Time and time again I‘ve caught myself thinking about my dreams, about missed opportunities and how wonderful the feeling of helping people is. But at the heart of these thoughts I increasingly found contradiction; that Fame, Money and Hollywood can‘t be a worthy motivation. And that dependence is a fatal flaw in any freedom.
Working on this film has changed me and my team.
Many told us how Bernie saved them. They had led sad and anxious lives and through his class they found joy. Some made us cry, some made us laugh. We heard stories about sect methods & disappointment. Nothing was really tangible. but one thing became clear: This is not a black-and-white story; this is about topics that concern us all, like happiness, success, freedom or love.
I believe that in amongst all the emotion lies some truth; somewhere between heaven and hell we may find an answer. An audience can only find their truth by themselves."