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Dagmar Manzel, Tanja Schleiff (photo © Claussen+Woebke/Fabian Roesler)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2005

What would happen if it suddenly turned out that the people you thought were your parents aren't the real ones after all?

This is the question with which the 30-year-old Hillevi is confronted when she learns by chance that she was adopted. Driven by the desire to find out who she really is, she sets off on the quest to find her birth mother and leaves the idyllic rural security where she had grown up. She soon manages to find out where her mother and her three sisters are living. Without giving her identity away, Hillevi observes Ottilia, her mother, and her sisters Katharina, Lisa and Paula, but the search for her roots increasingly becomes an encounter with herself and a journey of discoveries and decisions where she finally acknowledges that she must face the future by herself....

The inspiration for 4toechter came from the Swedish bestseller authoress Inger Alfvén's novel En Moder Har Fyra Doettrar which producer Uli Putz had been given as a birthday present. She was so taken by the family drama that she gave the book to Jakob Claussen, one of the other two partners in the Munich-based production outfit Claussen+Woebke Filmproduktion, to get his opinion. He was likewise convinced of the book's potential for the cinema, and they set about acquiring the film rights from Alfvén.

"We then looked for a screenwriter in Germany to adapt the novel and decided on Gabi Blauert," recalls Putz. "Compared to the screenplay, the novel is much more complex. We left some characters out and we don't have the different time periods."

Thanks to Blauert's well-crafted screenplay the production didn't have any problems in putting an impressive ensemble of actresses together for the roles of the mother and four daughters. The mother Ottilia was a crucial part to cast, but Dagmar Manzel (Willenbrock, Nachbarinnen) immediately accepted the offer, while the role of Hillevi was taken by Tanja Schleiff who has recently been part of the ensemble at the Schauspielhaus Duesseldorf and can be seen in Doris Doerrie's Der Fischer und seine Frau and Dominik Graf's Der rote Kakadu. Stefanie Stappenbeck (Barfuss, Im Licht der Nacht) was cast as Katharina, Lisa Maria Potthoff (Die Bluthochzeit, Am Tag als Bobby Ewing starb) as Lisa, and 18-year-old Amelie Kiefer, who has worked in commercials and television from an early age, has her first feature film role as Paula.

4toechter marks the third collaboration between Claussen+Woebke Filmproduktion with director Rainer Kaufmann – the previous two films were Einer meiner aeltesten Freunde (1993) and Die Apothekerin (1997) – and is Kaufmann's first feature film since Kalt ist der Abendhauch (1999). That is not to say that he has been idle in the intervening years: in 2002, Kaufmann directed the comedy Der Job seines Lebens for ARD and Die Braut wusste von nichts for ZDF and followed this a year later with the mini-series Die Kirschenkoenigin and the TV movie Marias letzte Reise last year.

According to Putz, 4toechter is an attempt to cater to an audience interested in adult women's stories. "There is a market for them," she argues. "Many women would go to the cinema more often if there was intelligent entertainment for them to see there."

Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2005
Director Rainer Kaufmann
Screenplay Gabi Blauert
Cinematography Klaus Eichhammer
Ueli Christen
Annette Focks
Knut Loewe
Cast Dagmar Manzel, Tanja Schleiff, Stefanie Stappenbeck, Lisa Maria Potthoff, Amelie Kiefer, Barbara Nüsse
Producers Jakob Claussen, Uli Putz
Production Company Claussen+Putz Filmproduktion, in co-production with ZDF, ARTE
Format 35 mm, color
Shooting Dates Suttgart and surroundings, August - September 2005
Sound Technology Dolby
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, MFG Baden-Württemberg
German Distributor Prokino Filmverleih/Munich

Claussen+Putz Filmproduktion GmbH
Jakob Claussen, Uli Putz
Herzog-Wilhelm-Str. 27
80331 Munich/Germany
phone +49-89-2 31 10 10
fax +49-89-26 33 85