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Movies Made for TV
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

The FilmFest Hamburg held exclusive previews of two installments from the made-for-television film Die Pfefferkörner.  Anyone unfamiliar with this series for kids should see it.  It is a Hamburg-made production and incorporates everything that is typically Hamburg. They even referred to the series as being “official Hamburg memorabilia.” The title comes from Pfeffersack (pepper sack), an old word for spice traders which they changed to Pfefferkörner (pepper seeds) since the kids are small and they are located in the Speicherstadt. This detective series has a website which shows the three generations of characters, including five kids: Yeliz (Maria Lieb), Laurenz (Tim Tiedemann), Lilly (Laura Gabriel), Karol (Moritz Glaser) and Marie (Nina Flynn), as well as news, games and chat room.  They have cool detective tools and special knowledge which they use to solve one mystery after another. These premieres will be shown in 2009. 

The first episode Swanenmord dealt with a mysterious killing of swans on the Alster. You learn about the “swan father of Hamburg” who cares for all the swans. You also get a good view of the Speicherstadt. The kids use laptops and cameras to catch the killer and director Miko Zeuschner gave tips to the audience on constructing this apparatus at home in order to spy on parents. 

The second episode ”Bildertausch” dealt with an artist who makes copies of famous works and tries to switch paintings in the museum in order to cover her gambling debt. The five detectives use all sorts of unusual tools to recover the painting and help the artists catch the real criminal behind the scenes. We found the second episode better than the first since the first ended rather strangely. The series is funny and cool and gives kids a chance to view their hometown on television. That it is tremendously popular was evident in the fact that this location tour was completely booked out even before the film festival got underway.

A good friend of mine, Agnes Sonntag, invited me to the cinema with her. She explained that her old school friend Holger Karsten Schmidt had written a TV murder mystery and would be there to answer any questions. The screening of Der Tote in Der Mauer directed by Markus Imbodin was packed. This film, like many Deutsche Krimis, did not have a very interesting title; in fact, the film prior to this one was called Tod in der Eifel.  I asked why this title and also how much influence do people have on script changes?  Schmidt said that having Tod or Mord in the title brings in a million more Euros. He actually had a different title, Der Letze Fall von Kommissar Dudek, which he found more intriguing since Kommissar Dudek (Michael Mendl) has cancer and most likely will die within the next three months. The mystery dealt with the murder of a suspected child murderer. The plot has the audience winding its way past the various characters to find the killer. Experienced mystery lovers will figure it out right away but the characters themselves are so quirky that you will enjoy the show anyway.

What a surprise to see that Holger had forever immortalized our friend Agnes as a character in this film, with just one telephone ring which set us off  laughing at the wrong moment.  It will be on TV on November 17 so don’t miss it!