Unterwegs – Rotterdam

33. Internationales Filmfestival Rotterdam 2004

'Unterwegs' hat am 23. Januar 2004 auf dem Filmfestival Rotterdam Weltpremiere gefeiert!

Die internationale Jury hat sich bedankt - mit dem 'VPRO Tiger Award', der am letzten Abend des Festivals feierlich verliehen wurde...

The Jury:

"Jan Krueger uses a raw and unconventional film style to portray a contemporary virus, namely fear of the unknown and the dislocating effect of the alien. In the end everyone is left behind alone - even the viewer of this fairy tale about good and evil."

Die ausgezeichneten Filme:

'Unterwegs' / 'En Route' von Jan Krueger
'Ljeto u Zlatnoj Dolnini' / 'Summer in the Golden Valley' von Srdjan Vuletic
'Bu Jian' / 'The Missing' von Lee Kang-Sheng

production note

by Martin Blaney / ‘German Export Union’

This summer saw Jan Krueger, a graduate of Cologne's Academy of Media Arts (KHM), embarking on his feature debut Unterwegs after coming to international recognition with his short film The Whiz Kids (Freunde) which screened in Venice’s short competition in 2001.

Unterwegs charts a journey of discovery through Poland by four characters after they meet at a campsite in Brandenburg: single mother Sandra (Anabelle Lachatte – from Hans Weingartner's The White Sound [Das weisse Rauschen]) and her six-year-old daughter Jule (Lena Beyerling) are testing the water together on holiday with Sandra's new boyfriend Benni (Florian Panzner) when their paths cross with that of the enigmatic small-time dealer Marco (Martin Kiefer, one of the boys in The Whiz Kids). In the days that follow, unknown tensions, conflicts and emotions come to the surface between the four....

As with The Whiz Kids, Krueger also shot this first feature-length film on digital video. "It certainly made sense to work with DV Cam for this story," he explains. "My experiences on The Whiz Kids showed that you are then in a situation which is not as controlled as one might be with film. Another important decision was the actors, whether they would be able to cope with this freedom and have aspects in their own personalities which could relate to the characters. Moreover, there were scenes in the screenplay where I hadn't written everything out because we hoped that we'd also be able to capture places and the journey there in a much freer way, in addition to the classically staged parts."

Krueger adds that the production was able to shoot mainly chronologically – starting at the campsite in Brandenburg, then moving eastwards to the seaside resort in Poland, and coming in the third part to a seemingly uninhabited, deserted old house in the country – but admits that they had underestimated the popularity of seaside holidays in Poland. "The resort was so packed that we had a problem with the background sound. You couldn't really ask people to turn their music off for two hours, so we had to look for alternatives," he recalls.

Looking back at his first experience of directing a feature-length film, Krueger points out that "there is naturally a difference in the stamina you need and in the preparation: we spent some 2 1/2 years on the screenplay, looking for actors and visiting Poland several times to see locations. And you also need more strength and concentration for the shooting itself." It came in very handy then that he had Bernadette Paassen as his director of photography since she had studied at the film school in Lodz and can speak Polish. She was onboard the project from the very beginning as Krueger was also taken by her approach to her own documentary video work, which was similar to that for his fictional work.

Unterwegs marks the first DV production by Schramm Film. Producer Michael Weber met Krueger at the Ophuels-Festival Saarbruecken at the beginning of 2002 thanks to the matchmaking services of ZDF commissioning editor Joerg Schneider who had previously worked with the Berlin-based production house on Henning Winckler's School Trip (Klassenfahrt) and Angela Schanelec's most recent project Marseille.

Jan Krueger was born in 1973 in Aachen. After studies in Electronics, Physics and Social Studies from 1992-1996, he enrolled in the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM) to study Film and Television. Since 1998, he has been working as an author and director for an advertising agency and the public broadcaster WDR. His films include: In den Kreis des Lichts (documentary, 1997), the music video to Udo Lindenberg's Verfuehrung von Engeln (1999), and the shorts Hochzeitsvorbereitungen (2000) and The Whiz Kids (Freunde, 2001) which received the Silver Lion and the Prix UIP in Venice for Best Short, First Prize at the Short Cuts Cologne festival and the Prix Canal+ at Angers in 2002.