Helge Albers and Roshanak Behesht Nedjad • Producers
by Martin Blaney - German Films
17/02/2009 - "We looked for an English name because we knew from the outset that we wanted to work internationally," says Helge Albers, one of the founders of Flying Moon Filmproduktion, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.
It was during his studies of Film and Television Economy at Babelsberg's Academy of Film & Television "Konrad Wolf" that Albers met his future partners in the Berlin-based company during the production of Ulrike Klein's film Das Erbe des Foersters: Roshanak Behesht Nedjad, a mechanical engineer by training who had come to the film industry through her involvement in the Kommunales Kino and a film festival in Stuttgart, was serving as a production manager on the film, while Konstantin Kroening was the DoP and subsequently received a nomination at Torun's Camerimage festival for his work on Klein's film.
As Nedjad recalls, the three became friends through this film although they continued working as freelancers on other productions before deciding to take the plunge at the beginning of 1999 and set up their own production company.
Making a good start
The company got off to a good start with Uli Gaulke's documentary Havanna mi Amor, which won the German Film Award for Best Documentary in 2001. At the same time, international co-productions have been a characteristic element of Flying Moon's output. “From the beginning, we wanted to make films that are understood and noticed beyond the borders of Germany,” he explains. “That can happen with films coming from Germany because it wasn't a hard and fast dogma that we are only going to make international films.”
Thus, the company became a co-producer on Yesim Ustaoglu's 2003 film Waiting for the Clouds [trailer] and Sabiha Sumar's Golden Leopard winner Silent Waters because of the strength of their screenplays. “When we read the screenplay, we knew right away that the people watching the film later in the cinema would be moved,” Nedjad adds.
It was after the experience of collaborating with French producer Philippe Avril on Silent Waters that Flying Moon decided to become a member in the pan-European company Unlimited S.A. with various experienced professionals from other parts of Europe, including Avril, Austria's Danny Krausz, Belgium's Jacqueline Pierreux, the Netherlands' Metropolitan Pictures and Luxembourg's Hemisphere Films.
“The idea behind the venture was to build up a network of contacts through Europe so that one knows what is going on in other countries,” Albers explains. “At the same time, there is no exclusivity so that we can produce with other French companies and Philippe, for example, can work with other German producers as he did on Susanne Schneider's Es kommt der Tag with Wueste Film.”
Flying Moon's involvement in UK director Ben Hopkins' collaboration The Market: A Tale of Trade [trailer] came about through a contact made thanks to the German distributor Piffl Medien. “Everything would seem to speak against such a project with an English director in Turkey,” Nedjad notes. “We had to explain to everybody why this should be – after all, why not?”
In addition, Flying Moon's success with Gaulke’s documentaries have led other documentary filmmakers to knock on the company's door. One of the most fruitful collaborations of these first ten years has been with Korean-born Sung-Hyung Cho on her Full Metal Village, which won film prizes in Hessen and Schleswig-Holstein as well as becoming the first documentary to ever win the top prize at the Max Ophuels Festival in 2007.
Looking to the future, 2009 will see the company dealing with the release of a number of films made over the past two years as in-house productions or co-productions: from Uli Gaulke's Pink Taxi through Marian Quinn's 32A [trailer] and Anne Hoegh Krohn’s Liebeslied, to a second collaboration with Sung-Hyung Cho on the documentary Endstation der Sehnsuechte.
Albers is also in the process of raising the finance for Portuguese filmmaker Hugo Vieira da Silva's Red Cross, which was presented at the Torino Lab in November and won a €200,000 production grant there. The co-production with Francisco Villa-Lobos' Contracosta Productions has already received support from Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Portugal's ICA.
Moreover, projects in development include German/Polish film The Pope Project, which received support from the German-Polish Co-Development Fund last summer. Written by Marta Palatore and to be co-produced by Lodz-based Opus Film, the comedy is set against the background of Pope John Paul II's visit to his homeland in 1987.