Christian Petzold's feature Yella is his sixth collaboration with the Berlin-based production outfit Schramm Film Koerner + Weber, after successes including the German Film Award-winning The State I Am In (Die Innere Sicherheit), which premiered in Venice in 2000, and the Berlinale 2005 Competition film Ghosts (Gespenster).
"For the first time, Christian has tried his hand at a genre film with a mystery story," says producer Florian Koerner Von Gustorf.
Petzold explains that the original idea for Yella came to him during the shoot for Something To Remind Me (Toter Mann) in and around East Germany's Wittenberge five years ago, when he first worked with actress Nina Hoss (who plays the role of Yella, and picked up a Silver Bear in Berlin as best actress).
They were both fascinated by the landscape near Wittenberge and the sobering fact the town was being drained of life as people moved to the West for work.
"The meadows have something really romantic about them, and you immediately think of songs by Brahms," Petzold says. "At the same time, it's a region that can't feed its people."
"In Something To Remind Me, Nina played someone who came from the West to the East to act revenge for a past wrong," Petzold continues. "We were thinking about a story which went in the other direction. But it wasn't until (co-screenwriter) Harun Farocki's documentary Nothing Ventured about venture capitalists appeared a couple of years later that I had an idea of how to show the West and this world of private equity with its modern form of solitude."
Yella features Hoss as a woman who tries to escape her past in a small East German town by working as a venture capitalist in Hanover - with limited success as her failed marriage comes back to haunt her.
Hoss is joined in Yella by Devid Striesow (The Counterfeiters), Burghart Klaussner (The Man In The Embassy) and Barbara Auer (The State I Am In).
"I had the cast in place almost a year before we began shooting," Petzold recalls. "Something I like to do is work with the actors on the development of the screenplay rather than just meet shortly before shooting starts. Writing is such a lonely job that I enjoy this work in a collective."
Meanwhile, although not gathered as such into a formalised group, Petzold is regarded as one of the leading figures of the so-called 'Berlin School' with such film-makers as Ulrich Kohler, Angela Schanelec, Valeska Grisebach and Matthias Luthardt.
"We don't have a common manifesto, but there are similarities in the way we produce and work on screenplays and with actors," Petzold explains. "When I made The State I Am In, I felt much lonelier in the German film landscape, but the situation has become much better. There are films being made which have something to show and say."
A woman tries to escape her failed marriage in a small East German town and begin a new life working in Hanover in the world of private equity.
Prod: Florian Koerner Von Gustorf.
Sales agent: The Match Factory
Key cast: Nina Hoss, Devid Striesow, Hinnerk Schonemann, Christian Redl, Burghart Klaussner, Barbara Auer.