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Scene from “Valerie” (photo © credofilm)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2006

It no longer counts for anything how beautiful, desirable and desired you are if you find yourself stranded without a penny to your name. That’s as in not just short of cash for the moment, lacking some ready change, being less than liquid, but meaning you do not have any means to pay for anything.

That’s exactly the situation Valerie (Agata Buzek), the title figure of Birgit Moeller’s film school graduation film, finds herself in. She is a photo model, used to the finest things in life and so unprepared for the high speed curve-ball life has just thrown in her face.

Fans of Schadenfreude can start salivating here because, compounding Valerie’s financial predicament, she is currently without work, has no prospects of getting any, it’s Christmas Eve and she’s stuck in the underground carpark of the luxury Hotel Hyatt in Berlin! Unable to cope and forced to sleep in her car, Valerie finds herself embarking on a double life from which she is able to extract herself only through her developing friendship with Andre (Devid Striesow), the parking attendant.

Award-winning commercials and video director Moeller (her spots for Nike won her Gold at the Spotlight Festival 2003 and the First Steps Commercial Award 2003) could have crafted a comedy. Instead, she has opted for an insightful and detailed study of what happens to an individual when everything they have previously taken for granted loses its validity, when everything that has, up to now, defined that person and their existence is not only called into question, but fundamentally challenged.

“It’s the human condition at its most basic,” says Moeller. “There is not only that element of ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ but also the nagging fear and doubt that, I believe, is at the root of all human existence.”

If Valerie sounds tailor-made for misogynists then prepare to be disappointed, because, as Moeller says, “the film stands and falls on your perception of the title figure. There is much about Valerie that is unattractive, but nobody wants to spend ninety minutes in the company of a character they don’t care about. As the layers of her previous life are stripped away, she emerges anew. She is, if you like, a constant work in progress. At the end of the film she is a totally different person to the woman we meet at the beginning. There is redemption and newly-born hope.”

Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 2006
Director Birgit Möller
Screenplay Ruth Rehmet, Ilja Haller, Milena Baisch, Birgit Möller, Elke Sudmann
Cinematography Kolja Raschke
Piet Schmelz
Dorothee von Bodelschwingh
Cast Agata Buzek, Devid Striesow, Guntbert Warns, Birol Uenel, Anne Sarah Hartung
Producers Susann Schimk, Jörg Trentmann
Production Company credo:film/Berlin, in co-production with Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB), ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel
Format 35 mm, color
Shooting Dates Berlin, December 2005 - February 2006
Sound Technology Dolby SR
Festivals Munich 2006, Warsaw 2006 (In Competition), Warsaw 2006, Molodist Kiev 2006, Seville 2006 (In Competition), Hamptons 2007 (In Competition), Sao Paulo 2008
Awards Best European Films, Best Direction / Best Actress NEFF 2007, Best Film Hamptons 2007
With backing from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg

credo:film GmbH
Joerg Trentmann
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10117 Berlin/Germany
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