Forty-year old healthy Frank has been diagnosed with an Inoperable brain tumor and suddenly condemned to only a few months to live. It's a shock to a life seemingly on track with a steady job and a new house in the suburbs. But together Frank and his family push through with their daily life of work and school. Frank tries to cope with the difficulty of accepting the Inevitable: increasing symptoms of the Illness and medical treatment. He uses his IPhone as a kind of emotional diary. The decision to home care Frank puts an immense strain on loving Simone and ends up distancing the family members as much as it keeps them together. A story about death that celebrates life.

Director's Statement

The past year has not been very easy for me and some of my closest friends. It has been a time of breakups, separations and distress. This very personal feeling created the key tone of the film, if you will. Moreover, some of my friends were confronted with death, and by listening to these stories I somehow shared the experience. In this context I was amazed by how little our society reflects on this Issue. Because one thing we can surely say: it concerns all of us and can affect our lives anytime. But we prefer to push that aside and go on with our everyday life. The same applies for the cinema: there are abundant and fast deaths, but without showing what death means for the people involved. Or death hides behind melodramatic dramaturgical constructions, like the famous last trip to the ocean or the like, which draws attention away from the essential. For us it was very important to stick to the everyday experience and to show the process, take a look into the abyss but also at the lighter moments. What does it really mean for a man, his family and friends, when death gets in the way of all his life plans. The title of the film is simply a metaphor describing the situation Frank and his family find themselves In. Suddenly all movement stops and you have to find your way on unfamiliar, open terrain. It's amazing, but actually I didn't want to shoot the opening scene at all. We know that situation well enough from numerous other films: the doctor shows the x-ray and gives his devastating diagnosis. This usually only takes two minutes. But then I thought it could be helpful for me and the actors to expose ourselves to this moment as realistically as possible. The doctor in STOPPED ON TRACK is a real-life doctor and he has to give such diagnoses 2-3 times a week, in that exact room, at that same table. The actors met him for the first time in front of the camera. The conversation lasted 40 minutes and I was deeply shattered. The actors had a similar feeling. Doctor Träger is very clear yet full of empathy. The long moments he kept silent were overwhelming. The silence allows a feeling of helplessness and leaves room to realize what's going on and to ask questions. The phone call Is part of reality. He received it exactly at that moment. There are a lot of patients in a hospital, a lot of urgent cases. A neurosurgeon has to be available anytime. STOPPED ON TRACK didn't have a script in the classic sense. The dialogues were completely improvised by the actors. In the preparatory stage, Cooky Ziesche and I researched for a couple of months, for example, interviewing supporters of the hospice movement and also doctors and the bereaved of people that had died of a serious disease. We recorded each interview, compiling a database which we dis- cussed with the actors and later on with the whole team. That's how we created the characters and developed a schedule of scenes, out¬lining the situations in the film. That was the basis for the work on the set, when we developed the actual scenes while shooting. It was a very small team of only seven people altogether. Sometimes there were only three on the set, which creates a very familial environment where you can open up, just give it a go without the fear of embarrassment.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Andreas Dresen

Written by: Andreas Dresen

Produced by: Peter Rommel

Cinematography: Michael Hammon

Editing: Jörg Hauschild

Cast: Steffi Kühnert, Milan Peschel, Talisa Lillí Lemke, Mika Nilson Seidel

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2011