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Tender Parasites (Zarte Parasiten)

Tender Parasites
Scene from "Tender Parasites" (photo © RheinFilm/Stefan Behrens)

Jakob and Manu have developed their own specific survival strategies. Without a permanent home or steady job, they live in a makeshift camp in the woods and use the municipal swimming pool when they need to shower. Always short on cash, they make a living as providers of human services. They notice what is missing in other people's lives and make a living by satisfying others’ desires and giving them what they need or what they lack.

Manu takes care of old Mrs. Katz, who is grateful and pays for this service. Jakob is looking for a new “client”. At an airfield for glider planes, Jakob provokes an accident, which catches the pilot's attention and awakens his sympathy. Martin, the pilot and a former manager, takes Jakob home and introduces him to his wife Claudia, who is initially not thrilled with the “visitor”. Little by little, Jakob succeeds in winning acceptance within the family. Jakob reminds Martin of his son Benjamin, who died a few years ago in an accident. Jakob makes himself available – in place of Benjamin. An open-ended offer, immediately terminable.

When Mrs. Katz suddenly dies, Manu is ready to move on, but Jakob decides to stay with Martin as he feels that the job is not yet finished for him. He increasingly feels at home and secure within the family. As Jakob takes on the role of the deceased son more and more and becomes estranged from Manu, she decides to pay Jakob and his new family a visit and win him back.


Christian Becker (field recordings) was born in 1971 in Duesseldorf. He worked as an assistant photographer in Duesseldorf and in Paris. Thereafter he studied at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and at the Escuela de cine y television in Cuba. In 2002, together with Oliver Schwabe, he founded "field recordings" and both directors decided to work as a duo. Their first feature film EGOSHOOTER had its premiere at Locarno in 2004. TENDER PARASITES is their second feature film.

Oliver Schwabe was born 1966 in Hanover. After studying Photography, he studied at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and at the New York University, Department Arts and Media. Active as a filmmaker, cameraman, scriptwriter, and producer, a selection of his films as a director include: EGOSHOOTER (2004), ZARTE PARASITEN (2009), and THE BROTHER (2016) in co-direction with Christian Becker, and his latest documentary TOKIO HOTEL – BEHIND THE WORLD (2017).
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2009
Directors Christian Becker (field recordings), Oliver Schwabe
Screenplay Christian Becker (field recordings), Oliver Schwabe
Cinematography Oliver Schwabe
Florian Miosge
Aurelio Valle
Katja Schlömer
Cast Robert Stadlober, Sylvester Groth, Maja Schoene, Corinna Kirchhoff
Producer Juliane Thevissen
Production Company RheinFilm/Cologne, in co-production with WDR
Length 87 min
Format 35 mm, color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Versions English, Italian
Sound Technology Dolby SRD
Festivals Venice 2009, Rotterdam 2010
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW

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