Germany, France, Ireland 2017

Synopsis

Max Zorn (Stellan Skarsgård) arrives in New York to promote his last novel. He will stay a few days to do some readings and publicity. The woman (Susanne Wolff) he lives with in Berlin has been in town a few months already to do an internship at the publishing house. Her name is Clara and she is younger than him. At a small event, the evening of his arrival, Max has the feeling that she must have an affair with the editor.
He reads from his novel, dealing with the passion for a German expat’ (Nina Hoss), in New York, 17 years ago. Max has not been back ever since, he says, as he never really got over it. He never intended to see her again, but as a friend tells him that Rebecca is in town, a very successful lawyer by now, single at that, Max tries to get in touch with her. His young publicist, Lindsay, helps him to trace the mysterious lady, somewhat against her better judgment. Rebecca however does not want to see her former lover. Max is almost stalking her, pursuing her onto the premises of her law firm, and into her home at night. Underneath her cool, elegant and always totally in control appearance Rebecca is fragile, and just as Max, still traumatized by their failed love of so many years ago. She invites him to come along on Saturday, for a day tour she has to make, to look at a house on the beach front.
It is winter in Montauk, at the far end of Long Island. There are two deck chairs on the windswept beach. The chairs are waiting for two people who have, for a long time, been lost to each other. Twenty years before, they had a fling, but they were too young to know they had each met the love of their lives. Now they have come back to Montauk, filled with regret and hope. They are visiting the ghost of their past. They do not know if it is possible to reverse time, to get the old intensity back again. In Montauk they find out.

Directors Statement

The project is called RETURN TO MONTAUK, I wrote it with Irish author Colm Toibín, freely adapting his yet unpublished novella of the same title.
Our screenplay is dedicated to Swiss writer Max Frisch whose novel HOMO FABER aka VOYAGER, I onceadapted for the screen, wrote, directed and produced with Sam Shepard and Julie Delpy.
MONTAUK is contemporary, set in NY and Montauk, a week-long visit by a European writer, in town to promote his new novel, entangled and torn apart between two women, an ironic, sentimental comedy/drama, grown-up art house, of course, maybe an education for younger audiences. The one and only theme is "everyone has in his life a great love he cannot forget however hard he tries...“ - Statistics seem to prove that our script has some relevance: 87% believe in the one big love, 85% even believe that they met once his/her ideal partner, 66% believe it only happens once in a lifetime.
Ever since my first movie, YOUNG TOERLESS, fifty years ago in Cannes, I have been working with great writers, exploring the field between literature and cinema. “Filming the word”, as a friend producer put it once. However I was always telling “their story”, never my own. Now I finally venture into the autobiographical field, speaking in the first person, of my ‘life lived’ – albeit with the help of a novelist. It is obvious that such an undertaking does not need a major budget. The story is too intimate, the feelings are too delicate to be disturbed by a large crew. Careful preparation, as has been done, and intense work with the actors, as well as a small crew of top professionals are the key to the challenge to penetrate the innermost of two people.
With Stellan Skarsgard as the writer, the well-known and celebrated Nina Hoss and with Susanne Wolff I believe to have the perfect cast.

Biography

Born in Wiesbaden in 1939, Volker Schlöndorff is one of the most important and internationally successful German directors. He has a predilection for bringing German and international literary classics to the screen and dedicates himself, in particular, to works that have been considered unfilmable. But Schlöndorff has also made a name for himself with socio-critical works.
Volker Schlöndorff spent his childhood in Schlangenbad and a large part of his youth in France. This is where he completed his schooling, studied Political Sccience in France and laid the foundation for his journey into film: as an assistant director to Louis Malle, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Pierre Melville. In 1965, Schlöndorff's directorial feature debut YOUNG TÖRLESS (DER JUNGE TÖRLESS) was made with Mathieu Carrière. The Musil adaptation received several awards and is considered to be the first international success of the New German Cinema. Many other films followed such as the mischievous genre mix A DEGREE OF MURDER (MORD UND TOTSCHLAG, 1967), the Western-inspired MAN ON HORSEBACK (MICHAEL KOHLHAAS - DER REBELL, 1969), the foray into the Heimatfilm genre THE SUDDEN WEALTH OF THE POOR PEOPLE OF KOMBACH (DER PLÖTZLICHE REICHTUM DER ARMEN LEUTE VON KOMBACH, 1970) or the emancipation tale A FREE WOMAN (STROHFEUER).
With THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM (DIE VERLORENE EHRE DER KATHARINA BLUM, 1975), Schlöndorff also succeeded in achieving his breakthrough at the German box office. He co-directed the Heinrich Böll adaptation with Margarethe von Trotta with whom he was married until 1991.
The film version of Günter Grass' THE TIN DRUM (DIE BLECHTROMMEL, 1975) became the director's biggest success to date. The film won the Golden Palm in Cannes as well as the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Feature Film, opening doors for Schlöndorff to an international career. German-American productions with star casts followed, including DEATH OF A SALESMAN (1985) with Dustin Hoffman, the Max Frisch adaptation VOYAGER (HOMO FABER, 1991) with Sam Shepard, THE OGRE (DER UNHOLD, 1986) with John Malkovich, or PALMETTO (1998) with Woody Harrelson.
Schlöndorff's drama THE LEGENDS OF RITA (DIE STILLE NACH DEM SCHUSS) about a female terrorist going underground received the “Blue Angel” Award at the Berlinale. The director was honoured with the Bernhard Wicki Film Prize - “The Bridge” - German Cinema Award for Peace for THE NINTH DAY (DER NEUNTE TAG, 2004) and received the Bavarian Film Award's Honorary Prize in recognition of his life's work in 2005. Moreover, Schlöndorff won a César for the Best Adapted Screenplay for DIPLOMACY (DIPLOMATIE, 2014).
Apart from his work as a film director, Schlöndorff has also been an enthusiastic director of operas and stage plays. Some of his films saw him working with Hans Werner Henze. This collaboration led to him directing such operas as “We Come to the River” (“Wir erreichen den Fluss”) by Hans Werner Henze, Leos Janacek's “Katja Kabanova” and “From the House of the Dead” as well as “La Bohème” and “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk”.
In addition, Volker Schlöndorff was involved in supporting the preservation of the Babelsberg Studios in order to save them from closure and retain them as a historical site for the world of cinema. He was Managing Director of the Babelsberg Film Studios from 1992 to 1997 and has been the chairman of the Verein Europäisches Filmzentrum Babelsberg since 2001. He teaches Film at the Wajda Film School in Warsaw, the University of Mexico and in Babelsberg, and is a supporter of the KWETU Film School in Ruanda, Africa.
“The best thing I've perhaps done are my memoirs 'Licht,

Filmography:

2017 RETURN TO MONTAUK
2014 DIPLOMACY (DIPLOMATIE)
2012 CALM AT SEA (LA MER À L'AUBE)
2007 ULZHAN (ULZHAN – DAS VERGESSENE LICHT)
2006 STRIKE (STRAJK – DIE HELDIN VON DANZIG)
2005 ENIGMA VARIATIONS (“ Enigma – Eine uneingestandene Liebe”)
2004 THE NINTH DAY (DER NEUNTE TAG)
2002 TEN MINUTES OLDER
2000 THE LEGENDS OF RITA (DIE STILLE NACH DEM SCHUSS)
1998 PALMETTO
1996 THE OGRE (DER UNHOLD)
1992 BILLY, HOW DID YOU DO IT? (“Billy Wilder, wie haben Sie's gemacht?”)
1991 THE VOYAGER (HOMO FABER)
1989 THE HANDMAID'S TALE
1987 A GATHERING OF OLD MEN
1985 DEATH OF A SALESMAN
1983 SWANN IN LOVE (UN AMOUR DE SWANN)
1982 WAR AND PEACE (KRIEG UND FRIEDEN)
1981 CIRCLE OF DECEIT (DIE FÄLSCHUNG)
1980 THE CANDIDATE (DER KANDIDAT)
1979 THE TIN DRUM (DIE BLECHTROMMEL)
1978 GERMANY IN AUTUMN (DEUTSCHLAND IM HERBST)
1977 PORTRAIT OF VALESKA GERT (NUR ZUM SPASS, NUR ZUM SPIEL)
1976 LE COUP DE GRACE (DER FANGSCHUSS)
1975 THE LOST HONOR OF KATHARINA BLUM (DIE VERLORENE EHRE DER KATHARINA BLUM)
1972 A FREE WOMAN (STROHFEUER); MORALS OF RUTH HALBFASS (DIE MORAL DER RUTH HALBFASS)
1970 THE SUDDEN WEALTH OF THE POOR PEOPLE OF KOMBACH (DER PLÖTZLICHE REICHTUM DER ARMEN LEUTE VON KOMBACH) BAAL
1969 MAN ON HORSEBACK (MICHAEL KOHLHAAS – DER REBELL)
1967 THE DRUMMER (DER PAUKENSPIELER); A DEGREE OF MURDER (MORD UND TOTSCHLAG)
1965 YOUNG TÖRLESS (DER JUNGE TÖRLESS)
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Cast & Crew

Directed by : Volker Schlöndorff

Written by : Volker Schlöndorff, Colm Tóibìn

Produced by : Stéphane Parthenay, Sam Taylor, Conor Barry, Rainer Kölmel, Til Schweiger, Regina Ziegler, Tom Zickler, Volker Schlöndorff, Marc Gabizon, Francis Boespflug, Christoph Liedke, Sidonie Dumas, John Keville, Hartmut Köhler, Mike Downey

Director of Photography : Jérôme Alméras

Editor : Hervé Schneid

Production Design : Sebastian Soukup

Costume Design : Majie Pötschke, Angela Wendt

Hair & Make up Artist : Alexandra Lebedynski, Barbara Kreuzer

Sound Design : Sélim Azzazi

Main Cast : Stellan Skarsgård (Max), Nina Hoss (Rebecca), Susanne Wolff (Clara), Bronagh Gallagher (Rachel)

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Feature Film Selection 2017