'Fidelity': How Every Conflict Can Be Told in 20 Minutes

Amid the real-life political turmoil in Turkey, filmmakers from Germany’s Hamburg Media School saw an opportunity for storytelling with a unique narrative in their Student Academy Award-winning drama “Fidelity.”

“If you want to tell a story about situations, society and family, it’s automatically political,” screenwriter Georg Lippert tells Made in Hollywood at the Student Academy Awards on Sept. 17 in Beverly Hills.

The award ceremony honored cinematic achievement from 15 student-filmmakers from universities and colleges around the world. Lippert’s “Fidelity” took the top honor with a gold medal in the Foreign Film category.

The story follows a modern young woman in Instanbul who helps a young political activist evade arrest after a demonstration, but things escalate—at home and at work—after she refuses to cooperate with police.

“It’s about the price you have the pay for liberty,” he explains the premise of the drama. “A family finds out if they are willing to pay the price to find out if they have an opinion.”

Lippert says his team was inspired to create a film in politically volatile Turkey because the director, Ilker Catak, lived part of his life in the country. “There’s a politically tense situation with riots going on, so we tried to tell a political story,” Lippert says. “It’s such a big topic now there.”

Coming in at under 25 minutes long, the weighty subject matter in the short film is tackled with brief exposition—of which Lippert says is a screenwriter’s technique that can be applied to virtually any film, no matter its length.

“A professor told me every conflict that’s told in a long feature film can be told in 20 minutes,” Lippert explains. He said his original screenplay was nearly twice as long before he began editing for time. “When you tell the story in 20 minutes you really have to cut away anything that doesn’t push the story forward—mostly it’s dialogue. As they say, you kill your darlings.”