Director Michael Steiner inaugurated this year’s Zurich Film Festival “And Tomorrow We Will Die”, a timely thriller about a real-life Swiss couple caught by the Taliban during a 2011 trip to Pakistan.
The film will make headlines in the wake of the recent Taliban victory in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops. Nonetheless, it looks at a complex geopolitical situation that involves not only the Taliban, but also Pashtun militants, and the continuing impact of the centuries-old conflict caused by the British-drawn border between Afghanistan and the then British India that divided the Pashtuns. Land
The film follows Daniela Weidmar and David Och (portrayed by Morgan Ferru and Sen. Shelkar) as they fulfill their dream of running the ancient Silk Road through Pakistan, where they are abducted and taken to the war-torn Pashtun region of Waziristan and handed over to the Taliban.
Talking to DiversitySteiner said it was crucial to describe in detail the background to the region and to express himself as a member of the Taliban and Pashtun tribes, and to reflect on Och and Weidmar’s personal and personal circumstances. Instead of discovering stereotypically bad boys, Steiner was able to portray “real living people” based on the descriptions of men holding their captives. “I think that’s pretty accurate,” Steiner added, explaining that he only came out to tell the story of Weedmar and Ouch in the film.
Steiner became interested in the story when he first read about it. He was particularly interested in abducting Weedmar and Och in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan and taking them to Waziristan, about 1,000 kilometers away. He added that terrorists usually do not take their prey to such great distances, over mountains and other areas.
The couple was able to escape captivity after 259 days and return to Switzerland in 2012. Och and Weidmar were initially wary of receiving negative coverage in the Swiss media, which raised questions about their story and even condemned them for traveling to Pakistan.
“The way they were treated after what they did was unfair,” Steiner added, noting that their stories of suspense and adventure were full of movie possibilities. “They saw things in Waziristan that none of us saw because there was only one foreigner there at the time.”
“At first they weren’t so sure if they could trust me,” he recalls. Over time, they found out they could, and they started discussing film projects. Och and Weedmar later wrote their best-selling book, Und morgen seid ihr tot, which Steiner adopted as the basis for the film.
The project initially faced funding problems but that changed when it was raised on the board of Zurich-based Zodiac Pictures. “It was a long journey, this movie,” Steiner notes.
The film was shot in the Indian state of Rajasthan as well as in southern Spain and Switzerland. “We couldn’t shoot in Pakistan so we had to shoot in India, and we had to turn India into Pakistan – it was a big challenge.”
Steiner added that it was a difficult task for Ferru and Shelker, who had to enter the mentality of being held captive for so long. “Your life is in danger and this combination of where you are always in the same position creates a strange mixture of emotions within you.” Working with a coach and discussing experiences with Och and Weidmar helped the actors move on to their feelings of stress, Steiner added. “It was quite demanding.”
“And Tomorrow We Will Be Dead” is Steiner’s second film to open the Zurich Film Festival after his 2010 horror film “Sentantschir”. The Netflix-acquired filmmaker’s 2018 comedy “The Awakening of Moti Olkenbruch,” similarly premiered in Zurich.
Steiner is working on his first TV show, a series on Swiss broadcaster SRG SSR, about a former policeman who opens a private detective school in Basel. In pre-production, the show, titled “Academy de Dectecive”, will begin in November.