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Usedomer Maler

Usedomer Maler

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2002

The Baltic Sea island of Usedom exercises a physical and metaphysical attraction for Germans like few other parts of the country. With its unique stretches of unspoiled beaches, its extensive tracts of forests and rolling fields, not to say thriving communities based around the various inlets, it has been, and still is, an irresistible magnet for artists, exercising an appeal on the soul.

In the 1920s, the island was known as the "Badewanne von Berlin" ("The Bathtub of Berlin") after the Kaiser decided it was the perfect place to unpack the imperial swimming trunks and enjoy the, sometimes bracing, onshore breeze. Today, it is still an extremely popular holiday and weekend destination.

Usedomer Maler (literally, "Usedom Artists", as in painters) is a film by Heinz Brinkmann (script, direction), who was born on the island and still resides there. The central theme of his film is an examination of the question why so many artists have fallen under the island's spell and become so attached to it.

Otto Niemeyer-Holstein and Lyonel Feininger are perhaps the most important representatives of an illustrious, provocative and politically very mixed group of painters and artists who, since the 1930s, have become inseparable from the island of Usedom. The film shows how they, and others, both captivated and horrified the locals with their art and antics.

Among other famous personalities who made Usedom home away from home are Heinrich Mann, Victor Klemperer, Maxim Gorki and Hans W. Richter. Contemporary residents include Wolf Biermann, Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler and the documentarist and painter Juergen Boettcher, also known as "Strawalde".

"Generally speaking, it is not easy for an artistically ambitious documentary to gain theatrical distribution or a broadcast slot," says award-winning producer Herbert Kruschke (among several, German Film Award for Verrieglte Zeit, 1991, director Sybelle Schoenemann). "This is a genre which is often neglected and shouldn't be.

"The author (Heinz Brinkmann) has a special relationship with the landscape and the art it inspires and I was immediately interested in the project. "We are aiming the film at a small, specialized, audience which appreciates quality content and narrative."

Category Documentary, Feature
Director Heinz Brinkmann
Screenplay Heinz Brinkmann
Cinematography Hartmut Schulz
Karin Schoening
Producer Herbert Kruschke
Production Company Kruschke Film- und Fernsehproduktion/Berlin, in co-production with artia nova/Hanover, in cooperation with NDR/Hamburg, SDR/Stuttgart
Format 35 mm, color
Shooting Dates Usedom, Berlin, February through December 2000
With backing from Filmfoerderung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
German Distributor PROGRESS Film-Verleih/Berlin