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photo © Schiwago Film/Novapool Pictures

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2008

Man's dream of eternal youth and life – as old as humanity itself – is the subject of Damir Lukacevic's second feature film TRANSFER which wrapped on location in Berlin in mid-September.

Originally, Croatian-born Lukacevic, who studied Directing at the German Film & Television Academy (dffb) in Berlin, had planned to adapt a short story entitled Thousand Euros, One Life by veteran Spanish authoress Eli Barcelo as one of the films in a series planned by ZDF's Das kleine Fernsehspiel under the banner of "2020", presenting different visions of how the future might look.

Realizing that Lukacevic's proposed adaptation could not be made for 2020’s budget of 100,000 Euros, commissioning editor Christian Cloos accompanied the young filmmaker in further developing the project and actively looking for a production company to come onboard.

Berlin's Schiwago Film was one of the producers approached by Cloos and Lukacevic and decided to take on the job of further development of the screenplay and raising the financing.

"We had a very positive reaction from the film funders to Damir because they knew his last feature, HOMECOMING, and were impressed by the screenplay for TRANSFER," producer Marcos Kantis recalls.

The film's plot centers on the elderly couple Hermann and Anna who have the dream of beginning anew at the end of their lives. In a sanatorium, they buy the young bodies of Apolain and Sarah for a million Euros and, in a personality transfer developed in Germany, the couple received control over these bodies for 20 hours each day. Apolain and Sarah are only themselves again for four hours each night....

"I don't think there is really anything comparable to this film in German cinema," says Kantis. "It is a very modern, futuristic story and a love story. There is a lot of tongue-in-cheek here, but it is also a subject which can be discussed in ethical and moral terms in all seriousness. Moreover, we are medically and technologically up-to-date, and even a bit further."

While the elderly couple of Hermann and Anna were cast relatively quickly, finding the two African actors took a lot more time.

"I hadn't known Ingrid Andree before, but I was fascinated by her visually and what I read about her," Lukacevic explains. The veteran actress had been a big star in German cinema during the 1950s in such films as Rolf Thiele's PRIMANERINNEN, Wolfgang Becker's PETER VOSS, DER MILLIONENDIEB and Helmut Käutner's DER REST IST SCHWEIGEN, but had concentrated on stage work for the theater in the past 20 years. "I wrote to her about my project without knowing her, and two days later she replied that she would like to be part of the film and that she had fallen in love with the script," he says.

"And it was her suggestion that we approach Hans Michael Rehberg – with whom she had often appeared on stage – for the part of Hermann," adds Kantis.

Finding the right actors for Apolain and Sarah led the director and producers to casting sessions in Germany, France, South Africa, London, and, finally, Los Angeles. Thanks to casting director Lisa Hamill they could cast B.J. Britt – whose past credits include Victor Salva's PEACEFUL WARRIOR, Tammi Sutton's SUTURES and the CSI MIAMI TV series – and Regine Nehy who appeared this year opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Neil LaBute's LAKEVIEW TERRACE.

"The story was so structured that we needed young actors between 20 and 30, who are attractive, have a great body and are so good as actors that they can portray the difference between an African and a white man or woman," Lukacevic says.

And Mehmet Kurtulus, who appears with his dark locks bleached peroxide blonde and wearing blue contact lenses, gives an other-worldly dimension to the film by speaking his lines in English (he will dub himself into German for the theatrical release in Germany by Novapool Pictures next year).

After Matthias Glasner's THIS IS LOVE, TRANSFER is the second German feature film this summer to deploy the RED One 4K HD camera as an alternative to 35 mm. "We did some tests with the camera beforehand and were extremely convinced," Lukacevic recalls. "It has another finish instead of the grainy look of 16 mm. Everything is a little bit more perfect and that is ideal for this futuristic story. Nevertheless, there is always a risk with such a camera and the occasional teething troubles."

"You have a needle-sharp picture with this camera," Kantis adds. "At the same time, it all remains a little artificial, but that's something which supports the production design and the actors in the frame."

Genre Fantasy, Science Fiction
Category Feature
Year of Production 2008
Director Damir Lukacevic
Screenplay Damir Lukacevic, Gabi Blauert, Gerald Klein
Cinematography Francisco Dominguez
Frank Brummundt
Gert Wilden
Tom Hornig
Cast B.J. Britt, Regine Nehy, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Ingrid Andree, Jeanette Hain, Mehmet Kurtulus, Ulrich Voss
Producers Marcos Kantis, Martin Lehwald, Michal Pokorny
Production Company Schiwago Film, in co-production with ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel, ARTE
 German & English
Shooting Dates Ueberlingen, Stuttgart, Berlin, August - September 2008
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
Festivals Shanghai 2010, Sao Paulo 2010
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MFG Baden-Württemberg, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds
German Distributor Novapool Pictures/Berlin

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