German director Georg Maas' mix of family drama and political intrigue Zwei Leben / Two Lives, a rare German-Norwegian co-production, has received US$900,000 in grants from the German regional film fund Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, reports the Norwegian Film Institute. [Photo: Liv Ullmann.]
Two Lives is of particular interest because of its cast: Juliane Köhler, who was outstanding in the 1999 drama Aimee & Jaguar, and who also starred in the Oscar-nominated Downfall and the Oscar winner Nowhere in Africa (she'd also worked with Maas in the romantic drama New Found Land); Devid Striesow of Downfall, Yella, and the Oscar winner The Counterfeiters; and former Ingmar Bergman muse and two-time Best Actress Oscar nominee Liv Ullmann (The Emigrants, Face to Face), in her first major film role in nearly two decades.
Set in the early 1990s, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Two Lives revolves around a World War II orphan-turned-STASI spy, Katrine (Köhler, who is currently learning Norwegian for her role). Her shady past now behind her, Katrine lives in Bergen, where she is a successful photographer with a Norwegian husband and family. Needless to say, the past eventually catches up with her.
Two Lives was written by Maas, Christoph Tölle and Ståle Stein Berg. Also in the film's cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Rainer Bock, Sven Nordin, and Susanne Bormann.
The Two Lives budget, including funds from the Norwegian Film Institute, is expected to total $4.3 million. The film will be shot both in German's Nordrhein-Westfalen region and in Bergen, Norway.
As for Liv Ullmann, I should add that last year she returned to the Norwegian stage after a two-decade hiatus. Ullmann starred as Mary Tyrone in Riksteatret's touring version of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, in the role played by Katharine Hepburn in Sidney Lumet's 1962 film version. Ullmann will turn 73 next December 16.
Liv Ullmann photo: Erling Hægeland/Dagbladet