Martha, in her own slightly obsessive but charming way, creates sublime masterpieces in the art of cooking as a chef of a small gourmet restaurant in Hamburg. And yet, her everyday existence is rather monotonous. She is introverted, has hardly any private life, and exists only for her work. All of that changes when her sister, a single mother, dies in an accident and Martha takes care of Lina, her eight-year-old daughter. The little girl suffers badly from the loss of her mother. It is only the presence of Mario, Martha's merry Italian colleague who brings light and pasta into the lives of the two outsiders. He turns from a rival to a loving friend. But one day Una's father, whom everybody thought was missing, shows up on their doorstep. He wants to take Lina back with him to Italy. And Martha? Martha has to make a decision. With MOSTLY MARTHA, Sandra Nettelbeck ("Mammamia") manages the rare feat of merging melancholy with joie de vivre, and this without slipping into lacrymose kitsch or cool psychodrama. Martina Gedeck and the little Maxime Foerste in the main roles, together with the inimitable Sergio Castellito are excellent actors whose at times quiet presence lasts well beyond the final credits. In MOSTLY MARTHA, Sandra Nettelbeck finds a unique blend of melancholy and zest for life. This film is a sensuous description of everyday sorrows and those small pleasures which do not always originate from an exquisite meal, but may also come in the shape of a child's happy smile.

Director's Statement

I've wanted to make a film about love and food for a long time. And I was interested in telling a story about a woman who masters the art of cooking as impeccably as Martha, who has so much passion for her profession and yet at the same time knows nothing about pleasure. To cook well is art — to enjoy is love. I wanted to show how someone discovers and learns to love pleasure, in every respect.

Director's Biography

Sandra Nettelbeck was born in Hamburg in 1966 and completed her high school education in 1984. She was a production assistant an several films between 1984-85 and began studying Film at San Francisco State University in 1988, producing several videos and two films an 16mm (among others A Certain Grace, which won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the San Francisco International Film Festival 1992). She worked as a journalist for Spiegel TV in 1992/93 and has been a freelance contributor and editor for Premiere television in 1994.She made her feature debut Loose Ends (Unbeständig und kühl) in 1995 for Luna Film under commission of ZDF television in Berlin and wrote and directed Mammamia (which won the Best Screenplay and Best Film Awards at the Max Ophüls Festival 1998) for ZDF television in 1997. She first met with producer Karl Baumgartner in 1998 and together they went into preproduction for Mostly Martha in 1999, an international co-production that had its world premiere at the International Film Festival in Locarno 2001 and will be released in Germany and the U.S. (among other countries) in 2002. She has currently several projects in development (Helen, Pandora Film, Sergeant Pepper, Bavaria Film).




Cast & Crew

Directed by: Sandra Nettelbeck

Written by: Sandra Nettelbeck

Produced by: Karl Baumgartner, Christoph Friedel

Cinematography: Michael Bertl

Editing: Mona Bräuer

Production Design: Thomas Freudenthal

Costume Design: Bettina Helmi

Make-Up & Hair: Katharina Erfmann, Martine Felber

Sound Design: Luc Yersin

Cast: Martina Gedeck (Martha Klein), Maxime Forste (Lina Klein), Sibylle Canonica (Frida), Sergio Castellitto (Mario), Antonio Wannek (Carlos)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actor 2002
  • European Actress 2002
  • Feature Film Selection 2002