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(Cindy liebt mich nicht)

Scene from “Cindy liebt mich nicht” (photo © Alin Bader/Penrose Film)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2009

After coming to international attention with her 30-minute short Stand Straight (Aufrecht Stehen), which was the opening film for the Berlinale 2007's Perspectives German Cinema sidebar, filmmaker Hannah Schweier turned to Cindy liebt mich nicht, the first joint novel by Jochen-Martin Gutsch and Juan Moreno, for her first feature-length film and graduation project from the Baden-Wuerttemberg Film Academy in Ludwigsburg.

In Schweier's adaptation of the 2005 novel, two thirtysomethings - Franz (Clemens Schick), a barman working in the "Cindy liebt mich nicht" bar, and David (Peter Weiss), a trainee at the public prosecutor's office - are both having an affair with a young woman at the same time without either of them knowing about this love triangle. Maria (Anne Schaefer) is a special kind of woman who gives everyone exactly what they seem to need, and yet continues to live in her very own world. The two men meet when she suddenly disappears and they decide to set off together to look for her. The trail initially leads them to Maria's parent's home, from there to a psychiatric clinic, and then finally to Denmark where they discover the secret of Maria's true story, but also learn some truths about themselves...

"Searching together for her leads them to a surprising truth after which nothing is as it once was," Schweier explains, adding that the film shows "the great longing, looking for and finding of love and the question why we decide on somebody."

She sees the film as being "about the existential questions that a relationship evokes: why I am together with someone? Do I love them for what they are? Or for what I am looking for? What must I risk for this?"

"In the end, this story is about liberation from illusions which the characters have had of Maria, but also from themselves and their own lives," Schweier suggests. "They mature because they no longer let themselves become entrapped by the supposedly limitless options and because they come to realize that loving always means vulnerability. They also realize that love is, above all, one thing: the decision for a person despite all of their weaknesses."

"We knew Hannah from the Film Academy although we were in different years," recalls Felix Eisele who launched the Berlin-based company Penrose Film with fellow production students Julia Kleinhenz and Katja Siegel last year. "Then, by coincidence, she came to us with the idea for Cindy liebt mich nicht since the Film Academy had changed its rules and could now have external production companies involved as a partner if it was a feature film project."

The young producers already knew Schweier's short Stand Straight and were therefore particularly keen to read her screenplay for the feature film.

"What interested me personally was that it spoke as if from my own life and about people one meets each day," Julia Kleinhenz recalls. "I had the feeling that I was reading a part of my life. But it doesn't only appeal to our generation as the story also speaks to older and younger generations as well."

"It was very clear from our discussions with her that this subject was something that had occupied her for some time," Eisele continues. "We were really bowled over by the fact that she had thought long and hard about how to put this up on the screen."

Schweier's meticulous approach also extended to the casting of the three lead characters in the love triangle. "Hannah had already had some ideas of whom to cast while she was working on the script," Kleinhenz explains. "She already knew Clemens Schick from working with him on Stand Straight, so that was clear relatively early on. And then she spent a very intensive time with casting director Karen Wendland going around all of the theaters to see the new young acting talents coming through."

In fact, the triangle was completed with the casting of stage actors: Peter Weiss who graduated this year from the Ernst Busch drama academy and will be a member of the ensemble at Halle's Neues Theater, and Anne Schaefer, a member of the ensemble of actors at Munich's Staatsschauspiel since 2006/2007.

Cindy liebt mich nicht is the first production of a new company – av medien penrose – which was founded by the three Penrose Film producers with Stuttgart-based Bernhard Stegmann of the established player av medien in spring 2009. Structured as a co-production with Penrose Film and with access to equipment and post-production facilities from the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg, the film received backing from MFG Baden-Wuerttemberg.

In addition, the producers are especially indebted to the commissioning editors Milena Bonse and Burkhard Althoff of ZDF's Das kleine Fernsehspiel unit. "They were real partners and stood by us all the way," notes Eisele. "They gave useful tips during the development of the script and have also been there for us during the shoot."

Genre Love Story / Romance
Category Feature
Year of Production 2009
Director Hannah Schweier
Screenplay Hannah Schweier
Cinematography Thorge Horstmann
Barbara Toennieshen
Matthias Klein
Nora Grabowski
Cast Clemens Schick, Peter Weiss, Anne Schaefer
Producers Felix Eisele, Julia Kleinhenz, Katja Siegel, Bernhard Stegmann
Production Company av medien penrose/Stuttgart, in co-production with Penrose Film/Berlin, in cooperation with ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel
Format Super 16, color
Shooting Dates Mannheim and surrounding areas, Gedser/Denmark, September - October 2009
Sound Technology Dolby
Festivals Berlin 2010 (Perspectives German Cinema)
With backing from MFG Baden-Württemberg

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