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(Himmel hat vier Ecken, Der)

Scene from "Der Himmel hat vier Ecken" (photo © schneider+groos filmproduktion/Josef Wutz)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2010

Shooting was completed at the end of May on Klaus Wirbitzky’s first feature film for the cinema, Der Himmel hat vier Ecken.

However, he is no stranger to the director’s chair since he has worked extensively for television on such children’s TV series as Die Pfefferkoerner and 4 gegen Z or the drama series Die Rettungsflieger.

“The story is about two boys coming from different social backgrounds,” says producer Ute Schneider of Hamburg-based schneider+groos filmproduktion. “To begin with, there is the sensitive loner Joschi who had to move here with his father from a better district after his parents’ separation. And then, we have Niko, full of bravado, whose family came to Germany from Kazakhstan, staying out of the way of his drunken father.”

In the neighborhood cinema, the two friends secretly idolize the figure of a vampire up on the screen. In a magical twist, Count Karpatovicz steps out of the screen to help the boys realize Niko’s sister Tatjana’s dream of escaping from the confines of the rundown tenement to become a boxing champion.

“We didn’t have to look far for the courtyard because we found the ideal place in the Muenzhof near Hamburg’s main railway station,” Schneider recalls. “It’s a popular location with filmmakers, but we didn’t have any problems with the residents about shooting there.”

Principal photography had begun at the end of April in Lueneburg at a school in the architectural style of the 1970s for an attic scene, and other locations included an underground station, football ground and the harbor area in Hamburg. In addition, several scenes were shot at various places on the studio lot of Studio Hamburg where the film’s editing and sound mix will also be done.

While casting sessions were held over three months in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein to find the child actors, Wirbitzky’s screenplay made such an impression on LA-based actor Udo Kier that he took no time in deciding to play the vampire. In fact, they already knew each other from working together on the 4 gegen Z series where Kier played the villain.

Meanwhile, the production landed something of a coup by casting Niko’s sister Tatjana with the real-life flyweight boxing world champion Susianna Kentikian in her first acting role.

Other parts are taken by Charly Huebner, Sandra Borgmann, Lisa Maria Potthoff, and Mark Zak who recently appeared opposite Angelina Jolie in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Tourist.

“It is our first film with children, but I have to say that they were very professional and well prepared,” Schneider notes. “It is quite a different kind of shooting situation because you have to keep to the legally fixed maximum times the children are allowed to work.”

Category Feature
Year of Production 2010
Director Klaus Wirbitzky
Screenplay Klaus Wirbitzky
Cinematography Michael Toetter
Sebastian Thuemler
Andreas Lupp, Nils Tuennermann
Cast Moritz Jahn, Lukas Mrowietz, Susianna Kentikian, Udo Kier, Lisa Maria Potthoff, Charly Hübner, Sandra Borgmann, Doris Kunstmann, Mark Zak
Producers Ute Schneider, Christof Groos
Production Company schneider + groos filmproduktion/Colonge & Hamburg, in co-production with NDR/Hamburg
Format 35 mm, color
Shooting Dates Lueneburg, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, April . May 2010
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
With backing from MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds, Nordmedia

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