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(This Is Love)

“This Is Love” producers Lars Kraume, Matthias Glasner, Juergen Vogel (photo courtesy of Just Publicity)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2008

Principal photography wrapped in September on This Is Love which is the first project of the Berlin-based production company Badlands Film director Matthias Glasner set up last year with fellow filmmaker Lars Kraume and actor Juergen Vogel.

"The film's title comes from the song This Is Always," Glasner explains. "I found this romantic text also to be so threatening because there is that level about the obsession of love. It's like The Police's song Every Breath You Take, which one can see both ways. It is a seemingly romantic film which also looks at the dark sides of love, of suffering and breaking down, and everything love can do to us and change our personality."

Set in Vietnam and Germany, This Is Love centers on Chris and the nine-year-old Jenjira on the run from the mafia. Together with his friend Holger, Chris bought the young Vietnamese girl's freedom from human traffickers – without actually being able to pay. Meanwhile, the female detective Maggie learns after 16 years why her husband up and left her without a word. These two worlds come together when Chris is accused of murder and Maggie is charged with interrogating him.....

As Glasner recalls, the idea for the new film came during his research for his previous feature film The Free Will which was shown in the Berlinale Official Competition in 2005: "I came across a story which moved me a lot about a man falling in love with a child and suffering because he knows that he can never live this love, that he will never be able to really fall in love. The other story around the Maggie character played by Corinna Harfouch was about being left and not knowing the reason why. These were issues which were of interest to me and people in my circle of friends, so I decided to address the question of love and suffering."

While he had Corinna Harfouch in mind from the outset for the part of Maggie whilst writing the screenplay – she had appeared in two of his feature films Sexy Sadie and Fandango and several TV movies – a happy coincidence brought him to the choice of the lead actor, the Dane Jens Albinus.

"I was working on the screenplay in Hong Kong and happened to see Lars von Trier's The Boss of It All where Jens has the lead. I was quite impressed by his performance and then learned by chance that he is also represented by my agency in Berlin. I liked the idea of writing a part for someone I didn't know in the same way as I did with Sabine Timoteo for The Free Will."

Actor Juergen Vogel, who won a Silver Bear at the 2005 Berlinale for his work as lead actor/co-screenwriter and producer of The Free Will, notes that the success of this film nationally and internationally was a great help when they were putting the financing together for This Is Love.

"Stylistically and formally, it is a quite different film from The Free Will," Vogel explains. "The story offers an insight into a world that one is not aware of, it is quite an adventure."

The shoot began with two days of filming on location in Saigon – with the local service producer Star Film handling the logistics on the ground – before moving back to Berlin and then interiors in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Vogel adds that the decision to use the new RED digital camera had financial and artistic reasons: "When you are shooting with an eleven-year-old child who is appearing in front of the camera for the first time, it is much easier to work with two cameras rather than having to have a 35 mm setup. Moreover, we found that you can create a very interesting aesthetic for the special kind of world where this film plays."

"Using the RED was ideal for Matthias so that he could improvise on set," adds executive producer Joerg Schulze of cine plus Filmproduktion whose previous credits include Philip Groening's Into Great Silence. "We had only two days of shooting in Vietnam, which was important because you can't capture that atmosphere of the Saigon streets and clubs in the studio in Germany, but using the RED meant that we had plenty of material to work from."

"That's certainly an advantage of the RED that you have lots of material," Glasner agrees, "and I also like the fact that what you see directly on the HD monitor is the final result."

Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2008
Director Matthias Glasner
Screenplay Matthias Glasner
Cinematography Sonja Rom
Mona Bräuer
Christoph M. Kaiser, Julian Maas
Frank Pruemmer
Cast Corinna Harfouch, Jens Albinus, Duyen Pham, Jürgen Vogel, Katja Danowski, Devid Striesow
Producers Matthias Glasner, Lars Kraume, Jürgen Vogel
Production Company Badlands Film/Berlin, in co-production with Schwarzweiss Filmproduktion/Berlin, cine plus Filmproduktion, WDR, ARTE
Shooting Dates Vietnam, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, July - September 2008
Sound Technology Dolby SR
Festivals San Sebastian 2009 (In Competition), Berlin 2010 (German Cinema), CPH:PIX Copenhagen 2010, Rio de Janeiro 2010
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, BKM
German Distributor STUDIOCANAL/Berlin

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