(87 Min., D 2023)
(87 Min., D 2023)
(87 Min., D 2023)
Eva and Dieter danced with each other for the first time in the winter of 1952. They got married, built a house, had three children. They quarrelled, had their doubts, weathered crises and got old together. Now Eva’s vitality is beginning to ebb away. For one last time they set off on a new path as a couple, look back on the happy moments, but also at the inevitable that lies ahead of them. What’s the recipe for life like this à deux?
In her keenly observed feature documentary FOR EVER, award winning directress and DOP Pia Lenz explores a love lasting decades – how it begins, lives on and can be kept alive – from the first kiss to the last moment together. Old photos, letters and diary entries, to which actress Nina Hoss lends her voice, provide humorous and bluntly honest insights into the inner workings of a long-standing relationship. A poetic film about our deep yearning for a bond that remains till the end.
Written and directed by: Pia Lenz
Director of Photography: Pia Lenz, Henning Wirtz
Film Editor: Ulrike Tortora
Narrator: Nina Hoss
Music: Alexis Taylor, Stella Sommer
Sound Mixing: Yannick Rehder
Commissioning Editor: Timo Großpietsch (NDR), Harald Kirchner (SWR)
Executive Producer: Carsten Rau and Hauke Wendler
Production: PIER 53 Filmproduktion
Film distributor: Weltkino (D), Polyfilm (A)
“A poignant ode to enduring love.”
“This is a wonderfully warm-hearted film. That affects every one of us.“
“You take along a feeling of profound contentedness from this film. An amazement at how unspectacular the things that matter in life can be.”
“FOR EVER is an important film. With a caring, inquisitive and unbiased eye, directress and camerawoman Pia Lenz watches as the wonderful couple Eva and Dieter Simon get older (…) The film shows what a documentary film can do when you let it.”
(Jury on conferring the VFF Documentary Film Production Award)
“Lovely, intense, sad – a real love story.”
“As individual as the story of this couple is, in this film it is also representative pars pro toto for the power of ‚for ever’ in terms of love. A love that’s not any kitschy ideal, not a picture book smeared with sugary frosting. Rather more a love that’s a promise of a life spent together. And at a certain point, a love that lets one go and leaves the other behind.”
(German Film and Media Review on awarding the rating ‘Especially worthwhile‘)
What gave you the idea to accompany an elderly couple until death?
Pia Lenz: My grandfather came down with Alzheimer’s, my grandmother cared for him until the end. The changed roles and approaching farewell made something visible that I hadn’t seen before with the two of them. I asked myself lots of questions during that time, issues hard to broach in your own family. The idea for this film already came about back then.
The film displays a great closeness and intimacy. How did this connection to Eva and Dieter arise?
Pia Lenz: I got to know Eva and Dieter through an advert in a newspaper. When I visited the two of them for the first time in their garden, I was instantly inspired by both of them and that special place in the midst of nature. Luckily, Eva and Dieter quickly accepted me and went along with the project. Once things get going, the way I work is decisive for the closeness that can arise in the process. As a rule I shoot alone, without loads of tech gear, and spend a great deal of time with my protagonists. The camera’s always along, but it often stays in the bag, too. We mutually let ourselves in for this unpredictable journey, get to know each other, and I always try to maintain a certain openness. It was good that we had so much time together before things got worse with Eva. At the end there was an absolute sense of trust between the three of us: at some point we got along almost without words.
What was the greatest challenge for you during this intensive, long-term observation?
Pia Lenz: You can’t make this kind of film if you wear a protective professional sheath around you. Eva’s illness, her getting increasingly weaker, the helplessness, the parting from each other, Dieter’s grief – all of that naturally affected me very deeply. Besides that, it’s a very big responsibility that I bear for the two of them, because they entrust me with quasi their ‘whole life’. As a film-maker, it was additionally a challenging project because the subject matter and development were completely open. At the beginning I didn’t know how much time we would have together. Will it be more like three years or ten? That’s why I accumulated a lot of material. My film editor, Ulrike Tortora, had to spend weeks with me to work through it. And it was courageous of my executive producers to go along with all these unpredictabilities.
Did you know from the very start how you want the film to be told?
Pia Lenz: I knew that it ought to become an unsentimental, intimate and patient look at age and a long relationship as a couple. And that I wanted to focus exclusively on the two of them. For me, from the very start it also had to do with learning about intimacies and unawarenesses regarding Eva and Dieter and their relationship. And to patiently observe that with the camera.
What surprised you the most during the production of this film?
Pia Lenz: It was primarily Eva and Dieter who surprised me again and again. Their cathartic humour in the most difficult situations. That unsparing honesty, above all in Eva. Relatively early on in the filming she spoke in an aside about her affairs. Dieter sat across from her at the kitchen table and they talked about them as if it was a long-ago trip on holiday or some such. I still remember quite well that at some point I asked if there might be old letters from younger days. About a year later Eva entrusted me with all her diaries and letters. At that moment a completely new world opened up for me. Suddenly I had access to the inner life of a young Eva and could identify with her very strongly. I hadn’t reckoned with that at all.
How was FOR EVER received by Eva and Dieter Simon’s family?
Pia Lenz: All three of us knew that we were never going to watch the finished film together at a cinema, which would normally be the case. When Eva was lying on her deathbed, I showed her scenes that we had already edited back then. She was already very weak, but I could sense that she was satisfied. At that moment she was able to put it behind her and still share some thoughts with me. That was a very beautiful moment between us. About a year later I watched the finished film together with Dieter and their two daughters. I know it wasn’t easy for Dieter, but he liked the film a lot and said he had discovered his relationship with Eva in it in a new way.
What are you personally taking with you from this impressive production?
Pia Lenz: I can actually say that my view of relationships and age has changed with the work on this film. The two of them expanded my horizon. Being able to accompany Eva’s and Dieter’s involvement and confrontation with life, dying and death so intensely was a great privilege. I hope I can take along that kind of humility from them to take life as it comes.
A production by
PIER 53 Filmproduktion
in co-production with
The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture & the Media
MOIN Film Fund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein
Eva Simon & Dieter Simon
Written and directed by
Cinematography and sound
Yunus Roy Imer
Assistant film editor
Sebastian Bender, Loft Tonstudios Berlin
Malte Bruhn, Tonik Studio
Timo Lindemann, Tonik Studio
Yannick Rehder, Tonik Studio
Ronney Afortu, Optical Art
Frank Hellmann, Optical Art
Stefan Tänzler, Optical Art
Maya Maffioli, First Cut Lab
Wim Vanacker, First Cut Lab
Klaus Siekmann, NDR
Jenny Lange, NDR
Tim Carlberg, NDR
Thomas Lorenz, SWR
Timo Großpietsch, NDR
Harald Kirchner, SWR
Carsten Rau and Hauke Wendler