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Peter Jordan, Monica Bleibtreu, Ulrike Grote on the set of “Herzschlag” (photo © ZDF/Gisela Koehler)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2007

Director and co-writer Ulrike Grote is certainly a name to watch out for. Her 2004 short, The Runaway (Ausreisser), has received any number of accolades, including the Television Award from the Royal Television Society, the Student OSCAR, Best International Short Film in Quebec and was nominated for the OSCAR in the Short Film – Live Action category.

With Herzschlag, the Bremen-born actress, screenwriter, theater and film director has teamed up with the cutting edge ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel to bring us a hospital drama that, says Grote, “is full of deep emotion and surprising comedy as seven people are confronted with the finality of life in one night. But, as so happens in life, fate strikes, even when it seems most unlikely, full of surprises and, for some, even offers an opportunity to start over.”

Grote and her co-producing, co-writing partner Ilona Schultz have assembled a mightily impressive cast for their multi-stranded narrative, including such stalwarts as Eckhard Preuss, Ulrich Noethen and Monica Bleibtreu.

Preuss plays Paul, a doctor, part of a husband and wife team, who is struggling to deal with the loss of their son, Lukas. He is having an affair with Sophie, who is caught up in an unhappy marriage. What she takes to be morning sickness soon lands her in the hospital with something far worse, a brain tumor.

Joachim (Ulrich Noethen) is a successful international journalist who is on the road so often he has lost touch with his family. But when he makes a surprise visit home, he is surprised to receive a call from his wife’s lover: Sophie (the very same!) is in the hospital.

Hanns Dunkel is an orderly in the intensive care ward. He lives with his mother Marie (Monica Bleibtreu), who is senile, and has no time or space for a private life. Marie is unable to remember from one second to the next and today she has set fire to their apartment because she forgot she had a pan on the stove. Hanns is able to prevent a disaster at the last moment. During the emergency, he loses the brochure from the nursing home where he wants to take Marie. She finds it and draws the conclusion. She packs and moves out, for the cemetery where her husband is buried. There, she meets Fritz, who is about to take his own life following the loss of his wife. Suddenly in her clarity, Marie takes him to Hanns at the hospital, except he’s out desperately searching for her. It gives Marie time to discover that Fritz is really a very nice guy...

Genre Tragicomedy
Category Feature
Year of Production 2007
Director Ulrike Grote
Screenplay Ulrike Grote, Ilona Schultz
Cinematography Ute Freund
Gisela Gondolatsch
Joern Kux
Iris Trescher
Cast Naomi Krauss, Janna Striebeck, Ulrich Noethen, Eckhard Preuß, Monica Bleibtreu, Peter Jordan, Annedore Kleist, Willem Menne, Elmar Lause
Producers Ulrike Grote, Ilona Schultz
Production Company Fortune Cookie Filmproduction, in co-production with ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel, in cooperation with ARTE
Format 16 mm
Shooting Dates Hamburg, October - December 2006
Sound Technology Dolby SR
With backing from MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Kuratorium junger deutscher Film

Fortune Cookie Filmproduction
Bahrenfelder Steindamm 55
22761 Hamburg
phone +49-40-85 18 66 85
fax +49-40-85 18 66 85