A Clear Felling | Kahlschlag

With “Kahlschlag” (English title: “A Clear Felling“) UCM.ONE is bringing the new film by Max Gleschinski to German cinemas on the film label Artkeim². “Kahlschlag” with Florian Bartholomäi, Bernhard Conrad, Maike Johanna Reuter and Jan ‘Monchi’ Gorkow is a top-class genre cinema from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.


Martin and Eric grew up in a small village in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. They have been friends since they were little boys and met when they were fishing, and from then on went to the lake together every Sunday. But their friendship is also marked by rivalry, because on one of their trips together they also met Frenni, who both fell in love with. The three of them roamed the woods and fields as children and remained friends when they grew up and Frenni got together with Eric. The couple is inseparable and very much in love, and this great love and the friendship of the threesome is only repeatedly tested by the drunken attacks by Eric’s unpredictable, aggressive twin brother Basti.

One day, an incident occurs that shatters the three friends’ tranquil lives. Frenni then flees into the arms of Martin, who doesn’t ask any questions and gladly takes in his childhood love, albeit with a bad conscience towards his old friend.

Three years after the terrible events, Basti is dead and Martin lives with Frenni in a quiet family home on his parents’ farm. The contact to Eric has broken off completely. But one day, shortly after his brother’s funeral, Eric stands at their door and asks Martin to join him on a last trip together to the lake of their childhood days. Reluctantly and plagued by bad premonitions, Martin gets into Eric’s van at dawn. At first everything seems to be quite normal, the two men arrive at their old fishing spot and sit down at the lake with a beer. Eric begins to review the events of the past, but soon his tone changes and Martin begins to fear more and more for his life.

A brutal game of cat and mouse takes its course, while Frenni, who has seen Martin get into Eric’s car, has a horrible premonition of what this fishing trip might lead to. Alarmed, she tries to get to the lake and prevent the worst…

About director Max Gleschinski

Max Gleschinski was born in 1993 and has been working as a freelance filmmaker since 2014. After completing a Bachelor of Arts (English Studies / Philosophy), eight short films and various music videos, he finalized his feature film debut “Kahlschlag” in 2018 without any participation by TV stations or a university. It won the „Förderpreis Neues Deutsches Kino“ at the Hof film festival. Max Gleschinski lives and works in his hometown Rostock.

1993 born Rostock
2012 A level in Rostock
2013 Internship at Institut für neue Medien
seit 2014 freelance Film Maker
2015-2016 Guest lecturer at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock
2017 Bachelor of Arts (English/American studies, Philosophy)
2017 Founding of Von Anfang Anders Film production
2018 Winner „Förderpreis Neues Deutsches Kino“ for „Kahlschlag“

Director’s statement

“Kahlschlag“ (english: Clear cutting) is clearing – a drastic decision, a deep blow, a short fall. The decades of growth and their violent conclusion find their natural image here. And our three protagonists are chasing after equally primeval and fundamental motives: They are longing for friendship and a home, they are fighting for love and ultimately for the most fundamental thing of all – mere survival.

In “Kahlschlag” we wanted to bring these motifs together to create a „cocktail“ of the kind we miss in German cinema: at its core a character-driven drama about love, loss, friendship and pain, the façade a genre film, the kind we ourselves like to see flickering across the screens. The drama leads its protagonists deeper and deeper into the final consequences of a tragic chain of violent events.

In order not to get lost in genre conventions, it helped to understand life not only as a linear chain of events, but to accept it as a puzzle whose pieces are relevant across time. Without sticking to the true continuity of time, the lives of the characters in “Kahlschlag” continue to merge together. Thus the film becomes more and more complex despite the thrill and violence, while drama and genre go hand in hand. 

Past and present speak to each other. Old decisions and emotions reflect our dreams and longings in the here and now.

How much “Kahlschlag” tells about my home state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern I only became aware of when I saw the film in its entirety for the first time. People call it a „Heimatfilm“ and find labels like “Mecklenburg Noir”. The fact that the painful journey of our characters is directly linked to their and therefore also to my home country gives me a deep insight into my fears and dreams. For a “Kahlschlag” is not only an act of violence, but also the place where it happens. A forest becomes a clearing. And in the same way, after the fall, this place also clears up and opens up the view.”

Original title: Kahlschlag

Director: Max Gleschinski

Sceenplay: Max Gleschinski

Actors & acrresses: Florian Bartholomäi, Bernhard Conrad, Maike Johanna Reuter, Jan ‘Monchi’ Gorkow, Arne Fuhrmann, Petra Nadolny, Christoph Gottschalch, Ulrike Reinhold, Maria Radomski, Frank Strobel

Producer: Max Gleschinski, Jean-Pierre Meyer-Gehrke, Torsten Wichner

Co-producer: Benjamin Weiß, Jan Klonowski, Klaus Blaudzun, Phillip Lehner

Cinematography: Jean-Pierre Meyer-Gehrke

Sound: Moritz Busch, Jochen Jezussek

Editing: Marco Zanoni

Visual effects: Marco Zanoni

Production and costume design: Adi Flor

Camera and Electrical Department: Julius Holtz, Phillip Lehner, Samuel Lewek, Lukas Ortel, Paul Raatz, Christoffer Schulz

Makeup Department : Anne-Marie Müller

Music: Axel Meier


Production company: Von Anfang Anders Filmproduktion

Year of production: 2018

Genre: Thriller

Country: Germany

Language: German

Subtitles: English


Length: 98 Min

Rating: FSK 16

Aspect ratio: 1.85 : 1

Sound: Stereo

Resolution: HD


2018 Hof International Film Festival: “German Cinema New Talent Award” for the Best Movie -> Kahlschlag

2019 Retro Avant Garde Film Festival: “Festival Award” for the Best Actor -> Bernhard Conrad

2019 Satisfied Eye International Film Festival: “Satisfied Eye Trophy” for the Best Actor in a leading role -> Bernhard Conrad

2019 Satisfied Eye International Film Festival: “Satisfied Eye Trophy” for the Best Actress in a supporting role -> Maike Johanna Reuter

2019 Camgaroo Award: “Camgaroo Award” for the Best Feature Film -> Kahlschlag

2020 German Actor Award: “Best Actor” -> Bernhard Conrad

Filmlabel: Artkeim²

Distribution: UCM.ONE


Theatrical start: March 05, 2020

DVD start: October 23, 2020

VoD start: October 23, 2020

About Florian Bartholomäi (Martin)

Florian Bartholomäi, born in 1987, grew up in Frankfurt am Main and has lived in Berlin since 2006. He came to the acting profession by chance. In 2003 he was discovered at a casting for his first leading role in Mirko Borscht‘s feature film “Kombat Sechzehn” and thus developped his passion for the acting profession. In 2009 Bartholomäi was awarded the German Television Prize and the Hessian Television Prize for his double role as the twin couple Lukas and Lasse in “Bloch: Schattenkind“. This was followed by numerous engagements for cinema and television films, including the 1000th “Tatort” (most faomus German crime TV series) “Taxi to Leipzig” alongside Axel Milberg and Maria Furtwängler.

In Dortmund’s “Tatort – Auf ewig Dein” (2014) the first personal duel of his character Markus Graf with the inspector played by Jörg Hartmann took place. In 2018 a sequel followed in “Tatort – Tollwut“. With the Tatort “Monster“, broadcast in February 2020, the trilogy with Markus Graf is complete.In the winter of 2019, Bartholomäi appeared in the new TV series “Rampensau“, where he played a bipolar school principal. Bartholomäi was also cast in international productions. In the successful BBC series “The Missing” he played a commissioner alongside the leading actor Tchéky Karyo. In spring 2019 the shooting of 2 seasons of the new vampire series “Heirs of the Night” ended, which will also be broadcasted in Germany in 2020.

About Bernhard Conrad (Eric)

Bernhard Conrad was born in 1981 and grew up in Leipzig. From 2000 to 2004 he studied acting at the Leipzig Academy of Music and Theatre “Felix-Mendelssohn-Bartholdy”. Permanent engagements have so far taken him to the Schauspiel Chemnitz, the Schauspiel Stuttgart, the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin and the Schauspiel Hannover. He also worked as a guest lecturer at various state drama schools, most recently at the HMDK in Stuttgart. In 2009 he was nominated Young Actor of the Year by the journal “Theater heute“.

From 2011 he intensified his activities in the film/television sector and has since then appeared in many productions, including the ARD two-parter “Unschuldig“, various episodes of “Polizeiruf 110“, “Nackt unter Wölfen” and “Sschilf“. For his double role in “Kahlschlag” he was awarded Best Actor at the RAGFF Venezia and the Satisfied Eye International Film Festival London in 2019.

About Maike Johanna Reuter (Frenni)

Maike Johanna Reuter was born in Bergisch Gladbach in 1989. From 2012 to 2015 she studied acting at the Rostock University of Music and Theatre. During her studies she played her first leading role in the Jupiter Award nominated feature film “Der 8. Kontinent“. Since 2015 she has appeared in various TV productions, most recently in the RTL daily “Alles was zählt” and the comedy format “Shapira, Shapira” on ZDFneo. In 2019 she was awarded Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the Satisfied Eye International Film Festival in London for her role Frenni in “Kahlschlag“. She lives in Cologne and currently appears in the production “Frankenstein” at Theater im Bauturm.

About Jan „Monchi“ Gorkow (Speiche)

Jan “Monchi” Gorkow (*1987 in Jarmen) is the singer of the Mecklenburg punk band “Feine Sahne Fischfilet“. He comes from a small town near Greifswald. Since his youth he has been an enthusiastic fan of Hansa Rostock and as a teenager he moved in hooligan and ultra circles. As a result he often got into conflict with the police and the authorities and was convicted to a suspended sentence at the age of 19 for setting fire to a police car. At the age of 20, together with school friends, he founded the punk band “Feine Sahne Fischfilet“, of which he became the singer. They positioned themselves politically left-wing and anti-fascist, which quickly put them into the firing line the crosshairs of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Office for the Protection of the Constitution. But this did not diminish the band’s success, and in the meantime their concerts fill whole stadiums. His commitment for his homeland and against neo-Nazis and right-wing ideas made Monchi a figurehead of the left scene.

In 2017 Charly Hübner‘s documentary “Wild Heart” about Monchi and his band was released, through which Monchi, who is also imposing by his physical appearance, has also become known beyond the circles interested in his music. Subsequently he also appeared as an actor, among others in the Rostock “Polizeiruf” at Charly Hübner’s side. Max Gleschinski, the director of “Kahlschlag“, shot several music videos for “Feine Sahne Fischfilet” and was able to win Monchi for a small but very incisive role in his first feature film.

Trailer (German with English Subs)

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Quotes on “Kahlschlag” (English “A Clear Felling”)

“The main “New German Cinema Award” went straight to a director who never attended a film school. The Rostock filmmaker Max Gleschinski is only 25 years old and shows with “Kahlschlag” a rural thriller trained on role models like “Fargo” and “Reservoir Dogs”. At the same time, he resolutely and originally turns the forest and meadow landscape of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern into the scene of a murderous showdown for reasons of love. […] Of course, “Kahlschlag” is genre cinema that boasts with a booming score and its love of infernal violent cinema effects. But in its evocation of an almost Shakespearean love conflict, the film demonstrates a rare boldness […].“ (Der Spiegel)

“The film relies on the original means of cinema, the power of images, editing and outstanding actors – above all Bernhard Conrad in a double role.“ (Jury Hofer Filmtage)

„A brave, unpolished, twisty thriller“ (BR)

„Fargo in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern“ (Jury Snowdance)

„Director Max Gleschinski proves that he has understood how genre cinema works. So Gleschinski‘s narration is – for a genre film  – unusual and artistic.“ (taz)

“The result is a daringly edited thriller with surprising twists, a love triangle and shock effects accompanied by drum sounds.“ (Urs Spörri, epd Film)

„Gloomy, gothic, fairy-tale“ (Blickpunkt: Film)

„If one wanted to find a genre name for this thriller, perhaps the most appropriate one would be the one forged by the Lodderbast cinema in Hanover: “Mecklenburg Noir”. The feature film debut, directed and written with great enthusiasm by Max Gleschinski, develops an irresistible pull and continuously increases its suspense until the twisty finale. “Kahlschlag” is a journey into the heart of the German province. A rare example of a home-grown psychological thriller.“ (Unabhängiges Filmfest Osnabrück)


The atmosphere and the rhythm of the film “Kahlschlag” are enhanced by the striking, sometimes threatening, sometimes gentle film music by Axel Meier. In his work, the Berlin-born freelance drummer and multi-percussionist combines musical worlds in his very own, sensitive way.

To work on the soundtrack, Axel Meier withdrew for a fortnight to a studio in the mountains of southern Switzerland. Here he worked on the composition and recorded the entire film music himself with percussion instruments. He did not use any electronic instruments, the sound is an acoustic fusion of various analogue drum sounds. Carried by atmospheric marimba sounds, contrasts are formed again and again in the music – sometimes with brutal drum beats or with vibraphone melodies that range from screeching to dreamy. In this way, a very organic sound is created that takes the viewer and listener on a journey into their innermost selves and at the same time makes the growing threat in the film plot tangible.


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