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(Fraeulein Stinnes faehrt um die Welt)

Scene from “Fraeulein Stinnes faehrt um die Welt“ (photo © taglicht media)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2008

While Annie Lennox was singing with Aretha Franklin in the 1980s that “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves”, their message came sixty years too late for Claerenore Stinnes, who decided in 1927 to do it for herself and became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by car. Unfairly lost in the mists of history (although some might argue that’s due to history being written by men!), her epic story of true-life adventure and romance with travel companion and cameraman Carl-Axel Soederstroem is finally hitting the big screen.

Containing film and photographic material the two of them shot on the way, Fraeulein Stinnes faehrt um die Welt (“Fraeulein Stinnes Travels the World”) also uses re-enacted footage to depict the two-year journey and the budding love affair between two people who came from the most different of backgrounds. But they first have to overcome the obstacles of the journey itself, as well as their emotions and social conventions.

Claerenore, essentially the black sheep of the family, was already an accomplished racing driver by her mid-20s before she decided to show what she and a “modern” car can do. When her crew alternatively fell ill and ran off, she was left with Swedish cameraman, Carl-Axel. And so off they went: Istanbul, Damascus, Tehran, Tiflis, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Ulan Bator, Beijing, Tokyo, San Francisco, Panama, La Paz and back via the US, Paris and Berlin – two years in all.

As producer Bernd Wilting says, “This is a story that, when you hear it, you don’t believe it. 1927! And the next reaction is, ‘I never knew that!’ Even more astounding is that her story has never been filmed; not even a documentary. And we’ve acquired original footage shot by Soederstroem. What a treasure!”

Wilting felt the film deserved to have women in the key positions, so he hired Erica von Moeller to direct, with Sophie Maintigneux as DoP.

“I want to understand what created this woman,” von Moeller says. “What drove her on to risk her life? Her strategic planning and use of the media fascinate me. How did the journey and surmounted dangers change her? She was one of the first citizens of the world who wanted to bring people together.”

Sandra Hueller plays Claerenore. A graduate of the Ernst Busch acting school in Berlin, her latest screen outing is in Anonyma (dir: Max Faerberboeck). Danish actor Bjarne Henriksen is best known for his role of the chef in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration.

Producer Bernd Wilting, a very experienced public broadcaster, founded taglicht media, together with Uli Veith, in 1996. The company specializes in high quality documentaries with the emphasis on history, science and nature, as well as human interest.

So fasten your seatbelts, even though Claerenore couldn’t since they hadn’t been invented in 1927, and settle back for the ride!

Genre Drama
Category Docu-Fiction
Year of Production 2008
Director Erica von Moeller
Screenplay Soenke Lars Neuwoehner
Cinematography Sophie Maintigneux
Gesa Marten
Anina Diener
Cast Sandra Hüller, Bjarne Henriksen
Producers Bernd Wilting, Uli Veith
Production Company taglicht media/Cologne
Shooting Dates Morocco, Kommern, Dueren, Cologne, January - February 2008
Sound Technology Dolby Stereo
Festivals Sao Paulo 2009
With backing from German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, MEDIA
German Distributor Real Fiction Filmverleih/Cologne

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