Filmfest 2016

Another film looking back at recent German history right after BARBARA: Jewish woman Nelly returns to Germany in 1945, having survived Auschwitz. Her face has been destroyed and needs to be rebuilt. When she finds her ex-lover Johnny in the bar Phoenix, he doesn’t recognize her. He thinks Nelly is dead, but notices her marked similarity to her. He hatches a plan to claim Nelly’s inheritance with the woman he takes to be a lookalike. In a basement, he molds her into the right image, while Nelly tries to spark her lover’s memory. A rollercoaster ride of rapprochement and release. A subtile film about suppressed memory and the strange art of staging reality. “During the shoot, I realized this man who manipulates a woman, telling her how to look and act, is not that different from the classic male director. It was a painful insight for me.” – Christian Petzold

tags: Relationship, History, Feature film, Grief/Trauma

Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Nina Kunzendorf


Screenplay: Christian Petzold, Harun Farocki

Original Material: Hubert Monteilhet

Director of Photography: Hans Fromm

Film Editor: Bettina Böhler

Composer: Stefan Will

Production Designer: K.D. Gruber

Costume Design: Anette Guther

Sound: Dominik Schleier

Producer: Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber

Production Company: Schramm Film Koerner & Weber, Tempus Film

Co-Production Company: Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Arte

World Sales: The Match Factory GmbH

Distributor: PIFFL MEDIEN GmbH

Director: Christian Petzold

Editor: Bettina Ricklefs, Frank Tönsmann, Andreas Schreitmüller, Hubert von Spreti, Monika Lobkowicz

TV channel: Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Arte


Christian Petzold was born in Hilden, North Rhine Westphalia, in 1960. He moved to Berlin in 1981, studying German lit and theater studies at the Free University. He graduated in 1989 and went on to study directing at dffb film school, working as assistant director for Hartmut Bitomsky and Harun Farocki, and writing film criticism. Petzold shot his graduating film PILOTINNEN 1994. After TV movies CUBA LIBRE and DIE BEISCHLAFDIEBIN he shot his first theatrical film THE STATE I AM IN (2000), a daram about a teen and his parents, who are wanted terrorists. The film won a string of awards, including the German Film Prize in Gold as Best Film. In 2001, Petzold’s collaboration with Nina Hoss began on SOMETHING TO REMIND ME, with whom he went on to shoot a series of films: WOLFSBURG (2003) won the Berlinale FIPRESCI Award and the Adolf Grimme Prize in Gold. Nina Hoss also starred in YELLA (2007), JERICHOW (2009) and BARBARA (2012). He shot an episode of TV three-parter DREILEBEN (2011). Petzold’s latest theatrical film PHOENIX (2013/2014), also starring Nina Hoss, won the International Film Critics’ Award at San Sebastián Film Festival.