To Life!

Auf Das Leben!
2015 Import 3 Final\to-life_1.jpg


St. Anthony Main Theatre 1 Fri, Apr 10, 2015 12:30 PM
St. Anthony Main Theatre 1 Tue, Apr 21, 2015 4:30 PM
St. Anthony Main Theatre 1 Sun, Apr 26, 2015 1:00 PM
Film Info
Premiere Status:Minnesota Premiere
English Title:To Life!
Program:World Cinema
Dark Comedy
Society & Culture
Best of Fest
Voice Category:Drama-rama!
Release Year:2014
Type:Narrative Feature
Director:Uwe Janson
Producer:Alice Brauner
Cinematographer:Peter Joachim Krause
Editor:Boris Gromatzki
Principal Cast:Hannelore Elsner
Max Riemelt
Sharon Brauner
Screenwriter:Thorsten Wettcke
Stephen Glantz


Fate has taken its toll on the aging cabaret singer Ruth and the young but terminally-ill Jonas. Yet despite their great age difference and their entirely opposite experiences in life, they form an intense bond and give each other a reason and purpose to live.

Jonas – a young man on the run – arrives in Berlin just in time to save Ruth's life. Evicted from her apartment, the sarcastic but warm-hearted Ruth – an aging Jewish cabaret singer – saw no other way out than suicide. Jonas, meanwhile, is driven by a secret, and fleeing from his love and his future. As Ruth recovers, she and Jonas begin to form a deep bond. Age-old Jewish culture and music are brought into the light of day as she tells him the story of her own impossible, tragic love for a non-Jewish man in post-WWII Germany, a love burdened by the legacy of the horrors perpetrated by Nazi Germany. As Jonas discovers Ruth's past and takes part in her present, his attentions and the passionate, lusty Yiddish songs of her youth help her find the way back to life. And, upon learning of Jonas' incurable illness, it is she who will help Jonas find the strength to tackle his fears, to stop fleeing, and to forcefully propose "L'Chaim – To Life!"



Uwe Janson studied sociology, political science and German language and literature at college. In 1986 he started working regularly as a directing assistant. The following year he founded the film distribution initiative “Konterbande.” His directing debut was his 1990 postwar drama Verfolgte Wege; among other prizes, the film received the Bavarian Film Award and the Prix Jeunesse at the Film Festival Locarno. In the following years Uwe Janson, an autodidact, worked only for television. He established himself in this field in Germany as a multi-talented, serious director with a variety of different films, including the drama Gefährliche Verbindung, which was nominated for the Grimme Prize, the comedy Golden Boy and the experimental screen adaptation of Brecht’s Baal. He directed his second motion picture in 2001, the psychological thriller Nachts im Park. In 2011 Uwe Janson won the prestigious Germany Comedy Prize for his German hit television series Danni Lowinski. His film, The Minister was nominated in 2013 for the German Film Award Lola for Best Film. To Life! is his most recent motion picture production.


A key concern for me in the realization of To Life! was that I wanted to create an intense cinematic experience that gives the audience a sense and the idea of a moral dilemma, and conveys the moving enforced silence and the absurd violence that the two unlikely friends Ruth and Jonas have both experienced and go through together.

The intense images of Peter Joachim Krause, this unusual story that is resolutely and bravely told by Thorsten Wettcke, the amazing actors and the vulnerable and emotional staging have made this project a progressive, touching and entertaining film, a veritable voyage of discovery – To Life! is great narrative cinema.

It was imperative that I present as many different facets as possible – a fascinating kaleidoscope that continually brings the people themselves into the center of its plot and grips them. Facets that also question the moral aspects of the psychology of violence and repression, and attempt – sometimes with humor – to bridge the gap between young and old, and what’s more, to fearlessly highlight the commonality and connectivity between the generations.

This story of Ruth and Jonas is also part of my own history. The constant dealing with these issues led, bit by bit, to the feeling that I had become a part of Jonas due to the focused work on To Life! and the grueling investigations – on the search for answers, and hoping for a bit of illuminating catharsis.

I hope that especially younger movie audiences risk a glance into the heart of this story – how it looks, what it feels like; then, and this is my great hope, then the audience will perhaps be very close to being able to realize what it means to live in peace and that there must be another form of confrontation, now and in the future – one without ignorance, without bleakness and without violence.

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