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photo © Büchner Filmproduktion

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2013

An observational film, FAMILY BUSINESS is the story of two families brought together by two important aspects of contemporary familial care: time and money.

Jowita and her husband Andrzej live in Lublin/Poland. Like many, they took advantage of the good times and started building a house without a loan. Then things turned bad, Andrzej lost his job. Four years later, their 13-year-old daughter Oliwia’s room is still just an empty shell. Needing money, they all decide the mother should now work in Germany.

At the same time in Bochum/Germany, another family faces a momentous decision: only after their father’s death do Birgit and Ulrike realize just how much help their mother Anne, now 88, needs in everyday life. They spend four long months taking turns, patiently getting her through the day. Finally, they can’t go on. They move the furniture out of the dining room into the lounge, to make room for Jowita.

The film accompanies both families from the moment they decide to merge lives. Both experience for the first time what it means to open one’s own family to strangers, to leave previous roles and surrender responsibility.

Who does what out of love and where does the work begin? Where are one’s own borders, where those of the unknown others? Where do the sparks fly or the paint rub off on one another? Whilst Jowita knows better how to estimate Anne’s dementia-related unease than her own daughters, she, Jowita, is suddenly surprised by her own daughter Oliwia’s first love. The situation forces everyone to re-plot their course when it comes to being there for one another.

Now surrounded by so many people all concerned about her, and having lived with Jowita for two months, Anne sits back, wrapped toasty warm from head to toe in her wool blanket, and summarizes her situation as she sees it: “I‘ve no idea what she‘s doing here. I, in her place, would never move in with any old Polish family.“

Genre Human Interest
Category Documentary
Director Christiane Büchner
Screenplay Christiane Büchner
Cinematography Justyna Feicht, Thomas Plenert
Cast Anne Pacht, Jowita Sobolak, Birgit Pacht, Ulrike Pacht, Oliwia Sobolak
Producer Tobias Büchner
Co-Producer Mariusz Wlodarski
Production Company Büchner Filmproduktion/Cologne, in co-production with Lava Films/Lodz, MDR, ARTE
 German, Polish
Shooting Dates June 2012-April 2013
With backing from Creative Europe MEDIA, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, BKM, German Federal Film Fund

World Sales
Autlook Filmsales
Salma Abdalla