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Melodies of Spring (Maerzmelodie)

Melodies of Spring
Scene from “Maerzmelodie” (photo © X Verleih)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2007

Producer Manuela Stehr of X Filme Creative Pool fulfilled two dreams in rapid succession this year.

First of all, she had always wanted to shoot in the Babelsberg Studios and then had the opportunity to do this with Vanessa Jopp's Christmas comedy Meine schoene Bescherung (as reported in the last issue of GFQ).

And a second dream came true literally back-to-back to Jopp's film when Stehr began production in May on Martin Walz's latest feature film, the musical romantic comedy Maerzmelodie as soon as Meine schoene Bescherung had wrapped.

"Martin was keen to work with us and offered me a ‘couple’ of screenplays, but they weren't really something I could get excited about," Stehr recalls. "Then we started chatting and I said that something I had always wanted to do was a film with music where the actors also sing and music is a dramaturgical element. Martin reacted by saying that he was currently working on just this kind of project!"

In the screenplay by Walz and Lars Hoeppner, Alexandra Neldel, who became known to TV viewers as the German version of Ugly Betty in the Verliebt in Berlin soap, plays the primary school teacher Anna who is a nervous wreck from having to deal with rampaging pupils, while Jan Henrik Stahlberg, co-director of the black comedy Short Cut to Hollywood earlier this year, is cast as the actor Thilo who earns a living of sorts by selling wine in a call center.

Their friends Valerie (Inga Busch) and Moritz (Gode Benedix) try to play cupid by bringing the two unfortunates together, but even this doesn't go as expected: Anna has a minor nervous breakdown and Thilo falls head over heels in love! But, first of all, they have to solve their own problems and admit to themselves that they must change something in their lives. Gradually, Anna and Thilo find a way to themselves and each other through the power of emotions and music.

"Jan Henrik and Alexandra are a wonderful couple and we also have some great secondary characters with people like Jockel Tschiersch, RP Kahl and Meret Becker," Stehr explains. "We have explicitly avoided trying to make the film one that is set in Berlin. It is a film which could take place in any medium-sized town."

Ahead of the shoot, the preparations focused on the choreography of the scenes where the songs' lyrics illustrate and underscore the characters' thoughts. While the actors sang along during the actual shoot, the final version of the film will have the original songs – from the likes of Zarah Leander, Gitte Henning, Marius Mueller-Westernhagen, and Ton Steine Scherben – appearing on the soundtrack.

Genre Music, Romantic Comedy
Category Feature
Year of Production 2007
Director Martin Walz
Screenplay Martin Walz, Lars Hoeppner
Cinematography Matthias Fleischer
Simone Klier
Emil Vicklicky
Anina Diener
Cast Jan Henrik Stahlberg, Alexandra Neldel, Gode Benedix, Inga Busch, Gedeon Burkhard, Jana Pallaske
Producer Manuela Stehr
Production Company X Filme Creative Pool, in co-production with SevenPictures Film
Format 16 mm
Shooting Dates Berlin, May - June 2007
Sound Technology Dolby SRD
Festivals Berlin 2008 (German Cinema), Shanghai 2008, Sao Paulo 2008
With backing from German Federal Film Board / FFA Filmförderungsanstalt, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds
German Distributor X Verleih

X Filme Creative Pool GmbH
Kurfürstenstr. 57
10785 Berlin/Germany
phone +49-30-23 08 33 11
fax +49-30-23 08 33 22