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Scene from “Sehnsucht” (photo © Peter Rommel Productions)

It was by pure coincidence that producer Peter Rommel learned in a conversation with 3sat commissioning editor Inge Classen that Vienna Film Academy graduate Valeska Grisebach was developing her new project Sehnsucht.

Rommel had been impressed by Grisebach's award-winning 60-minute feature debut Be My Star (Mein Stern) - which had also been produced with ZDF/3sat - and so was keen to know more about Sehnsucht.

"Instead of a completed screenplay, there was only a sequence of scenes and a very detailed treatment which read like a novel without any lines of dialogue," he recalls, pointing out that this approach made it rather difficult when he started making the rounds to raise the financing for the project. "The funders couldn't imagine how the finished film would look," he observes.

Set in a village in the Brandenburg countryside in late winter, the film's action centers on a man, who serves in the local voluntary fire brigade, and a woman who have loved each other since their childhood. They are inseparable. When the man then gets involved in an affair, he takes up his shotgun and aims at his heart...

"A lot of time and expense was spent on the casting and going out to scout for the right locations," Rommel adds. "Valeska went to all of the local fire brigade fetes and spoke to people in the villages about their lives. The three lead protagonists - chosen from 800 men and women approached during nine months of street castings - were amateurs and had to take their holidays and other free time for the shoot. We were particularly grateful, though, for the positive response we got from the people's employers at giving them permission to take the time off."

Rommel points out that the attention given to the cast and the location was crucial because "the film must have an authenticity and a purity as required by the story which reminds me in a way of German Romanticism".

While the preparation for the film was as if for a documentary, Sehnsucht itself has a more documentary-style character than, say, Andreas Dresen's Grill Point, which was also produced by Rommel. "You can't compare them, especially since Valeska's film was made on film rather than DV," he explains. "At the same time, this film also had a small crew to help create an atmosphere of intimacy during the shoot."

Meanwhile, Sehnsucht marked Rommel's second collaboration with David Groenewold's Berlin-based media fund GFP Medienfonds after they worked together on the production of Andrew Hood's debut feature Das Apfelbaumhaus (previously known as Skin Deep).
Genre Melodrama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2005
Director Valeska Grisebach
Screenplay Valeska Grisebach
Cinematography Bernhard Keller
Natali Barrey, Valeska Grisebach
Beatrice Schultz
Cast Andreas Mueller, Ilka Welz, Anett Dornbusch
Producers Peter Rommel, David Groenewold
Production Company Rommel Film, in co-production with German Filmproduction GFP/Berlin, 3sat/Mainz, ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel
Runtime 90 min
Format 16 mm
Festivals Berlin 2006 (In Competition), Buenos Aires 2006, Paris Cinema 2006, Festival des deutschen Films Ludwigshafen 2006, Karlovy Vary 2006, Copenhagen 2006, Warsaw 2006 (In Competition), London 2006, Vienna 2006, Ghent 2006, Gijon 2006 (In Competition), Thessaloniki 2006, Anger 2006, Palm Springs 2007, Viennale 2017, Premiers Plan Angers 2019
Awards Special Jury Award Buenos Aires 2006, Filmkunstpreis Ludwigshafen 2006, Alice Award Copenhagen 2006, Special Jury Award Warsaw 2006, Best Film & FIPRESCI Jury Award Gijon 2006
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, BKM, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg
German Distributor Piffl Medien

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