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Scene from THE FIRE (photo © Filmsyndikat UG/Christina Laube)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/1970

After an evening out, the 35-year-old, self-confident Judith is raped on her way home. She fights with all possible means to prevent her life being changed, wanting to remain the strong woman she was before. Her lawyer advises her to press charges and she makes plans with her partner Georg to start a family. But the destructive consequences force their way into Judith’s life. Her sexual relationship breaks down as she becomes increasingly obsessed with thoughts of retaliation as legal proceedings against her attacker suffer one setback after another. When the perpetrator’s false statement causes her hopes of legal redress to collapse, Judith looks for another way to get justice. She observes the man, brings about encounters and it almost looks like she is out for revenge. But Judith is pursuing another, unusual, radical path to prove the criminal’s guilt and bring him to account.

“THE FIRE throws up the question whether there can be any way whatsoever to recover from being raped,” says director Brigitte Bertele. “The grim reality is that it can happen to anyone at anytime, anywhere. Instead of an empathy for the victim, social and legal debates are often dominated by a rhetoric in which the victim is shut out and the causes are sought in the woman’s conduct, appearance and relational aspects so as not to have to face the fear of what rape entails. THE FIRE is a very quiet, slow and accurately narrated drama in which the unspoken is given its space.”

Bertele’s previous credits include the 2008 feature film Nacht vor Augen, also written by Johanna Stuttmann, which had its world premiere in the Berlinale’s Forum. It won Bertele an NDR Newcomer Award at the 19th Internationales Filmfest Emden 2008 and the DEFA Newcomer Award at the 18th Filmkunstfest Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2008. Both women were also nominated for the Adolf Grimme Award 2010. Stuttmann’s trophy case includes the Baden-Wuerttemberg Script Award 2007 and she was also nominated for the German Film Award 2009.

THE FIRE premieres in public broadcaster SWR’s Debut im Dritten slot, established especially for first time, or as close as, features such as this; films, in the words of commissioning editor, Stefanie Gross, that are “gripping, quiet, sometimes loud, but always have unusual stories and have their own, radical, viewpoint.” Previous candidates include such critical and audience hits as DIE FETTEN JAHRE SIND VORBEI, KROKO, VIER MINUTEN, EMMAS GLÜCK, REINE GESCHMACKSSACHE, NOVEMBERKIND and ALLE ANDEREN, which shows how high the quality bar has been set. Production company Filmsyndikat was co-founded in 2009 by Hartwig Koenig, who can look back on over twenty year’s with the Debut im Dritten series.

Genre Crime Drama

Year of Production 2010
Director Brigitte Maria Bertele
Screenplay Johanna Stuttmann
Cinematography Hans Fromm
Dominique Geisler
Christian Biegai
K.D. Gruber
Cast Maja Schoene, Mark Waschke, Florian David Fitz, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Ursina Lardi
Producer Hartwig Koenig
Production Company Filmsyndikat/Baden-Baden, in co-production with SWR
Format 35 mm, color
Festivals Max Ophüls Festival Saarbrücken 2011, Achtung Berlin 2011, Festival des Deutschen Films Ludwigshafen 2011, Filmfest Emden 2011, Montreal 2011 (World Competition), International Film Fest Oldenburg 2011, Sao Paulo 2011 (New Directors Competition), Film Festival Petaluma 2011, Thessaloniki 2011, Filmfest biberach 2011, Kinofest Lünen 2011, FilMZ Mainz 2011, Goa 2011, International Women's Festival Rehovot 2011, Shanghai 2012, Human Rights Film Festival Barcelona 2012, Berkshire IFF 2012, Film Festival for Women's Right Seoul 2012, International Crime & Punishment Festival Istanbul 2012
Awards Best Director Montreal 2011
With backing from MFG Baden-Württemberg

Filmsyndikat UG
Hartwig Koenig
Varnhalter Weg 31
76534 Baden-Baden/Germany
fax +49-72 23-9 91 93 13