Sargeant Major Eismayer is the toughest instructor in the Austrian Army. He hides a secret that threatens his job and his family: he’s gay. One day Falak, who is openly gay, joins Eismayer’s ranks. The two clash, but Eismayer is also drawn to Falak. The screenplay of David Wagner’s film Eismayer, presented at the Venice International Film Critics’ Week, has been inspired by a real story.
Why did you pick this story for your debut film?
Eismayer intimidated me, as well as many other soldiers. When I read his story, though, I realized there was something intimidating him, too. This made him more interesting in my view. There is a strong conservative consensus on masculinity, which is part of the ongoing debate on gender issues. His lifestyle as a man dadn’t been tolerated, and turned him into a kind of ultra-male, with all the consequences this may have.
How do you think your film will be received?
I have seen several well-made gay movies, but in many of those, protagonists were just too handsome to be relatable, and too good-natured. They just didn’t look real. I want my audience to reflect on their prejudice on gay men and on masculinity in general.
How did you work on the aspects of military life that are shown in the movie?
I used several sources to make my movie as authentic as possible. I drew from my own experience in the Austrian Army and I interviews newly-enrolled soldiers. During principal photography, a military instructor was always with us, to educate us on military language, gestures, ranks, and manoeuvres.