On Sunday June 28, 2009 I attended the premier screening of the Made-for-TV movie "Schutzlos" / "Defenceless" (working title: "Illegal") by director René Heisig at the 27th Munich Filmfest in the Forum 1 cinema, beginning at 5pm.
The Forum 1 cinema is the former IMAX-theater of the Deutsches Museum. Therefore the rows are very steep and so all 329 seats have an undisturbed view to the very huge screen. The three rows on top carried 'reserved' signs, and so I moved my head around to see who would take their seats up there. No one I recognized.
The audience consisted half and half people from the industry and paying movie fans. I spotted some familiar faces from TV and the movies. As Matthias Brandt entered and made his way up to the top he got a round of applause from the audience.
Ulrike Frick, the woman in charge of the 'German TV movies' section at the Munich Filmfest, introduced the director, once the technicians managed to open the microphones. He said a few words about the movie and wished us a good time with it.
"Augsburg 2008" – The film begins in an internet shop, where Maria is chatting with her two children whom she had to leave behind in Honduras to stay with her former husband. Suddenly the evening is interrupted by a police raid that is in search of illegal immigrants and Maria flees out into the stairwell. To earn enough money to pay back her debts back home and for the support of her children, she works as a cleaning woman for various employees – but since she has no legal documents she is at their disposal. Moroccan Au-pair girl Sami is her best friend, and the grocer Jamshid, who married a German to get a residence permit, is her support if all things go wrong. And then there is the teacher Jens, gorgeous, blond, blue-eyed, and gentle and he can even dance, who is her partner since three months. Only he doesn't know that she is an illegal immigrant and she is afraid to tell him. She realizes that the new stepmother treats the children badly, so she wants them bring over to Germany. In order to earn even more money she has to accept more jobs, in much worse conditions. Jens can't deal with the fact that he should take care of Maria's children in the near future and, so they split. After the kids are finally in Augsburg, Maria's life gets even more complicated, as they also have to keep a very low profile. Without official papers she cannot register the children at school, thus forcing her to leave them unattended at home while she is working. After a string of devastating experiences, when Maria is on the verge of a nervous breakdown not only Jens but mostly the insurance agent Peter for whom she works, help her to consider a happy future in Germany.
The end credits rolled, and the sold out theater gave a thunderous applause. After that the director introduced not only the attending actors Carolina Vera, Matthias Brandt, Mira Mazumda, Sara Kessling and Miguel Hernandez Lara, but also the producers Rita Serra-Roll, Regina Ziegler and Martin Bach, casting agent Franziska Aigner-Kuhn, and Günther van Endert, responsible for the movie at TV network ZDF, and some more members of the crew. He delivered greetings from Maximilian Brückner, "who unfortunately couldn't attend".
René Heisig thanked the TV network ZDF for their bravery to make a movie about such a subject, partly in Spanish with German subtitles, and that it is a good example that our TV license fees are well used for once.
The story that is told here is disturbing, mainly because it is based on the true story of the real Maria Moreno, the script is gripping, and the way it was filmed is touching and most of all the actors are superb. It has one tender love scene – almost Maria's only happy moment. Both Carolina Vera and Maximilian Brückner don't need words to show feelings on screen; the way they look at each other is way more. And Matthias Brandt brings the slightly confused Peter back into life, a role that could have easily become a caricature with a lesser actor. Unfortunately I don't know the date of broadcast yet.
Oh - and I liked the movie very much. It was absolutely worth to leave the comfy sofa in my living room for it!
The following evening between two other screenings I almost run into Carolina Vera, who was also on her way to a screening, and took my chance to pay my compliments to her acting in "Schutzlos" / "Defenceless", and on the movie itself. Apparently she was fond to get a feedback directly. She told me that after the photographers had left after the screening a bit of discussion about the movie took place. We bid good-bye, both being on the run and on leaving she told me that the premiere was the beginning of promoting the movie, which will continue through TV in the weeks to come. It will air later this year on a Monday evening, at prime time 8:15pm, as a 'ZDF Spielfilm der Woche', but I still don't know the date.
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