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Director Leander Haussmann (center) on the set of “NVA“

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2004

It’s sometime during the 1980s and two opposing systems face off: capitalism vs. socialism, East vs. West, NATO vs. the Warsaw Pact.

NVA is set in the DDR, an independent state recognized by most of the world. And, like all states, especially ones that feel powerful and self-confident, this one also has an army, the NVA or “Nationale Volksarmee”. Every young man is obligated, at the end of his eighteenth year, to serve eighteen months in the ranks. Obligated! With conscience objection a fast-track ticket to prison, there are only two ways of avoiding conscription: you’re either a complete cripple or a woman.

In this follow-up film to his highly successful and award-winning slice-of-DDR-life comedy, Sun Alley (Sonnenallee, 1999), writer-director Leander Haussmann’s young heroes bid farewell to sex and pretty girls, booze and LSD, to everything they love because - they’re in the NVA now!

“The NVA has become a myth,” says Haussmann, “which refuses to die. It’s an example of an army that was never allowed to fight a war. It wanted to, of course, because that’s what armies are for, but could never admit it, not when it had given itself the title of Army of Peace!”

Because its officers never got the chance to show the world what they were made of, they stayed on a constant internal war footing. “They busied themselves with human material,” says Haussmann, “the soldiers the system swallowed every six months. And because they couldn’t escape, they all had to deal with the experience. For some it meant heads down and follow orders. For others, like the two main characters, Henrik Heidler and Ole Krueger, both of whom are unwilling to suppress their personalities, needs and dreams, it meant falling foul of a system where the rule of the average reigned supreme.”

NVA is a film about the individual’s fight against the general, as embodied by a uniform system. It’s a film about the victory of love over hate. And because it’s a comedy, it’s also, says Haussmann, “a costume film with the ugliest costumes ever seen since an NVA training film.”
Genre Comedy
Category Feature
Year of Production 2004
Director Leander Haußmann
Screenplay Thomas Brussig, Leander Haußmann
Cinematography Frank Griebe
Hansjörg Weißbrich
Cast Kim Frank, Oliver Broecker, Jasmin Schwiers, Detlev Buck, Maxim Mehmet, Robert Gwisdek, Philippe Graber, Daniel Zillmann
Producers Claus Boje, Detlev Buck
Production Company Boje Buck Produktion/Berlin, in co-production with SevenPictures Film
Format 35 mm, color
Shooting Dates Bad Dueben, Saxony, April - Setpember 2004
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, BKM, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg

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