Opening 31 Jul 2008
Imagine that your first film premieres in Hamburg on the hottest night of the year and nobody comes to sit in the stuffy cinema. That night director André Erkaus’ film showed to a small group of real film lovers, but this comedy has the potential to entertain large audiences. Richard (August Zirner) runs a call center in which employees sit in cubicles and sell flat rates over the phone to disgruntled, uninterested people chosen at random. Who has not cursed these intruders? Adrian, Sascha and Maria are three co-workers who need the job. Adrian is most successful: the employee of the month. On the phone he is glib and persuasive; in real life he lives at home with his father, has never had a date and trembles at the thought of meeting one of his customers in whom he has an interest. Sascha is new to the job, and considers it a stepping stone to something better. His girl friend is pregnant but he is not ready for responsibility. Maria is a single mother whose communication with the father of her child leads to angry misunderstandings and unhappiness all around. Even their boss Richard cannot communicate with his wife, who lends her ear to their dance teacher. Slowly, each person learns to listen, to hear. This new-found communication skill helps to solve their problems and changes lives.
André Erkaus experienced call center work. He said, “People on both ends of a call-center phone line are victims. Nobody really wants to do this job.” It is a long way from the call center to a successful film. He said that it took 30 months from writing the script to seeking financing to finally shooting it in 24 days and the resulting comedy is worth the effort, bringing Erkaus the Max Orphüls prize for best new German director. The ensemble cast, music, and camera are all excellent. Singer Chris Normann and journalist Günther Walraff have cameo roles. (Becky Tan)