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Isolde Barth, Oktay Oezdemir (photo © 2007)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2008

The cast and crew of Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg student Olav F. Wehling's graduation film Kronos are sure not to forget their two months of shooting in the Moroccan desert in Ouarzazate and Merzouga last autumn.

"It was a real challenge in all areas," recalls Christopher Zwickler who produced the film with fellow student Lisa Groezinger. "Firstly, there was the challenge of bringing a large German team to Morocco and looking after the needs of 25 people."

The project's financing was another challenge – the team had staged a benefit party at the Filmakademie in the summer to raise funds – and producer Lisa Groezinger agrees that "it is unusual for a student feature film to go on location to a place like Morocco. In addition, we were shooting at locations in the desert and working with a Moroccan crew so that the language on set was English."

However, the production could draw on the services of the Filmakademie-graduate Karim Debbagh who returned to his homeland in 2003 to set up the Tangiers-based production house Kasbah-Films which also produced Michael Dreher's award-winning Fair Trade and organized production services for Simon Gross' Fata Morgana before becoming a co-producer on Kronos.

Debbagh is now handling production services and line production for Irene von Alberti's new feature Tangerine and Lancelot von Naso's Waffenstillstand and is developing a new project with Michael Dreher called Das Zimmer.

After his 2005 debut feature Down the Drain (Futschicato) about life in an unconventional commune which won prizes at Saarbruecken's Max Ophuels Festival, Ludwigshafen's Festival of German Cinema and Pristina's Skena Up Festival, Wehling now turns to the world of Greek mythology with Kronos to give a contemporary version of the story of Cronos, Uranos, Gaia and Rhea as a family on the run in the desert from an apocalyptic catastrophe.

The head of the family Uranos is played by Klaus Gruenberg (whose credits include The Longing and Bella Martha), his wife Gaia by Munich-based actress and Chabrol "regular" Isolde Barth, while the daughter Rhea and son Cronos were cast with up-and-coming talents Sonja Gruentzig and Sergej Moya. Oktay Oezdemir – who appeared in Detlev Buck's Tough Enough and Zueli Aladag's Anger – is cast as a mute boy whose attempts to help the family survive in the blistering heat lead to a fatal chain of events.

"Thematically, Kronos may not follow on from Down the Drain, but it again shows that Olav likes working with an ensemble cast," Lisa Groezinger explains. "He enjoys the work with actors and they were all there the whole time. There were only lead parts in this film."

While cast and crew sometimes had to make do without their creature comforts, the production "on the whole, had luck with the weather," she adds. "It was very hot but we had purposely chosen to shoot in October and November when the sand storms are fewer. We had a phenomenal experience, though, when there was a rainstorm in the Sahara during the shoot. It wasn’t planned, but it was a godsend!"

Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2008
Director Olav F. Wehling
Screenplay Olav F. Wehling
Cinematography Armin Franzen
Katja Fischer
Matthias Klein
Stefanie Kromrei
Cast Isolde Barth, Klaus Gruenberg, Sergei Moya, Sonja Gruentzig, Oktay Oezdemir
Producers Lisa Groetzinger, Christopher Zwickler
Production Company Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, in co-production with ZDF, CP Medien/Ludwigsburg, Kasbah Films/Tangier, Panther Studios/Oberhaching
Format 16 mm
Shooting Dates Morocco, September - October 2007
Sound Technology Dolby SR
With backing from, Caligari Foerderpreis der Stadt Ludwigsburg, Artus Postproduktions, Deutsche Bank

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