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(Haus und Kind)

Scene from “Haus und Kind” (photo © Kineo Film/Conny Klein)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2008

Producers Peter Hartwig and Cooky Ziesche embarked this summer on their third collaboration with veteran screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase for Andreas Kleinert's Haus und Kind (“House and Child”) after previously working together on Andreas Dresen's Summer in Berlin and Whisky mit Wodka.

It was particularly after their experiences on Summer in Berlin in 2004 that Hartwig and Ziesche decided to work with Kohlhaase on more projects in the future. Ziesche developed the story idea for Haus und Kind together with Kohlhaase before she and Hartwig started looking for the right director for the project.

Their choice fell on Andreas Kleinert who was last seen in the cinemas with his surreal grotesque drama Head Under Water which premiered at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.

"Cooky had made two epiosodes of the series Polizeiruf with Andreas Kleinert for RBB and he was our first choice as director for the film," recalls Hartwig who has served as production manager or line producer on some 35 TV movies and feature films since 1995, including many of Andreas Dresen's films as well as films by Dani Levy (My Fuehrer) and Oskar Roehler (Angst). "Andreas Kleinert works very well with the actors and they appreciate his directness and attentiveness. He is a very passionate director with great attention to detail. There are many nuances in a Kohlhaase script which one could easily read over, but Andreas is very precise."

The project by Hartwig's Babelsberg-based production company Kineo Film then found its champions in Cornelia Ackers, a commissioning editor at BR who had already worked with Kleinert in the past, and in Andreas Schreitmueller at ARTE in Strasbourg.

The plot of Haus und Kind centers on a professor of Modern German History (played by Stefan Kurt) who wants to move into a new house in the country with his wife (Marie Baeumer) and also have a child with his girlfriend (Stephanie Schoenfeld). A summer and winter between Berlin and the Baltic coast see the man getting himself entangled in that old, old story: what does a man do with two women? Or rather: what do two women do with one man?

As Kohlhaase explains, he sees Haus und Kind as "playing with the classical love triangle constellation. After all, how can monogamy prove its worth if it doesn't have a chance to fall into temptation? The man confidently dedicates himself to his goal, but we already have a feeling that things won't go well. We are dealing here with a serious subject but it can also be told with irony. Everything can end murderously or laconically."

Meanwhile, Kleinert expresses his admiration for Kohlhaase's skill "of how he manages to describe, in a few clear sentences, processes that are much more complex in reality. At first glance, the story appears to be quite simple, but it has so much to say about our time and that really touched me. It is not comparable with other films by Kohlhaase. I wouldn't describe it as a pure comedy because there are melancholic and even tragic moments."

Moreover, Hartwig and Kleinert are both full of praise for lead actor Stefan Kurt whose recent films have included Dani Levy's My Fuehrer, Chris Kraus' Four Minutes and Justus von Dohnányi’s Bis zum Ellenbogen.

"Stefan Kurt looks a bit like one of those desperate characters from a Woody Allen film," Hartwig explains. "He perfectly transports this desperation of not being able to make a choice between two women."

"You can do a lot with Stefan," Kleinert adds. "Every close-up is exciting. We are shooting with him every day and he is in every scene, and yet he is constantly surprising us with new reactions and nuances. It is a perfect joy!"

As for the personnel behind the camera, it is clearly a case of 'never change a winning team' for Kleinert, since he is working on Haus und Kind with many of his regular family of collaborators from the past 15 years – ranging from the DoP Johann Feindt (who is a respected documentary filmmaker in his own right) through editor Gisela Zick to costume designer Dorothee Kriener and production designer Gabriele Wolff.

"That makes the atmosphere on the set more relaxed and the actors feel more at ease when they see that we have been working together for so long," Kleinert says.

MB

Year of Production 2008
Director Andreas Kleinert
Screenplay Wolfgang Kohlhaase
Cinematography Johann Feindt
Gisela Zick
Gabriele Wolff
Cast Marie Bäumer, Stefan Kurt, Stefanie Schoenfeld, Lilly Marie Tschoertner, Karin Neuhäuser
Producers Peter Hartwig, Cooky Ziesche
Production Company Kineo Filmproduktion/Potsdam, in co-production with ARTE, Typhoon Films/Munich for Bayerischer Rundfunk
Original Version
 German
Shooting Dates Seegrehna, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Berlin, Ahrenhoop, June - August 2008

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