The Lower Depths

A young man named Luka admits himself to a mental health unit and recognises in the suffering of his fellow patients a chance to help others. Self-confident and seemingly experienced, he awakens new hope with beautiful castles in the air and appeals to the willpower of his fellow human beings. When he notices that his help bears fruit and that he receives confirmation, he dares to take on ever greater human challenges. Alcoholics can drink again, the lame can walk again and the mentally confused experience confirmation. But these minor superficial victories are soon followed by painful consequences that raise doubts and disbelief about Luka and his way of helping. For the first time Luka faces agonising self-reflection. He has to decide whether he will now confront his own problems or whether he will take refuge in his own castle in the air and thus become a deadly threat to the entire ward.

  • Pablo Knote
  • Julian Dohmen
  • Pablo Knote
  • Philip Malewicz
  • Daniel Warland
    Key Cast
  • Christoph Leszczynski
    Key Cast
  • Isabella Nagy
    Key Cast
  • Steffen Will
    Key Cast
  • Thorsten-Kai Botenbender
    Key Cast
  • Anna Zhara
    Key Cast
  • Denis Wiencke
    Key Cast
    "The Chessplayer"
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Die Unteren Tiefen
  • Project Type:
    Feature, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    19 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 3, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, ARRI Alexa, ProRes 4444
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - ifs internationale filmschule köln
Director Biography - Pablo Knote

Born in Munich in 1994, grew up around lake Ammersee. An avid comic artist and film fan since childhood. Studied Japanese studies for several semesters after graduating from high school. Since 2011, freelance film historian and researcher of classic Japanese cinema with publications at numerous English and German-language websites. Since 2017, student (focus: film director) at the ifs international film school in Cologne.

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Director Statement

"The Lower Depths" marks an important step for me in the discovery of my own handwriting. On one hand, it is an autobiographical film: the characters and their interactions are based on real people and events from my time as a patient in the outpatient ward of a clinic. In a ward like that, you can't hide your problems, and out of this vulnerability comes a solidarity towards your fellow patients. It is precisely these people that I wanted to honour, which is why the film is dedicated to them.

At the same time, the film is also an allegory for a phenomenon of our time: in advertising, on posters and screens, we are surrounded by promises of salvation today. Happiness, it seems, is a question of attitude, one's own will only has to be strong enough! But why are so many people unhappy? Do they simply not believe strongly enough? For us, this led to the conclusion that there is no universal recipe for a happy life and that those who claim to be in possession of one should be met with scepticism.

Our protagonist Luka is an allegorical figure, the human manifestation of these empty promises of salvation. He is based on the eponymous character from Maxim Gorky's play "The Lower Depths". Gorky later distanced himself from the work because he feared he had not condemned Luka's actions strongly enough. We have transposed this character to the present day and tried to reveal an empathetic core beyond his demagoguery. For his illness is incurable, it is a symptom of our time.