Surviving Brandenburg:

Surviving Brandenburg” (German title: “Überleben in Brandenburg“) by Zoltan Paul and Ben von Grafenstein tells the story of a marginalised “best-ager director” who tries to prevent a right-wing mayor from taking office in his village of 120 inhabitants. The film, which is being distributed by UCM.ONE on the Berlin film label Darling Berlin, is a comedy about age discrimination and the post-midlife crisis with a highly topical reference to the political situation.


László Kovács, auteur filmmaker, is denied funding for his film project: too old, white and heart problems to boot! Conclusion: no longer employable. Wasn’t the Hungarian from Lake Balaton aiming high? What now? Continue to be on his successful wife’s back? László slips into a real life crisis and initially finds solace in the fascinating attraction of a “crazy woman” from the neighbouring village. But when a right-wing populist stands as the only candidate for mayor in the village of 120 souls, László comes to his senses. In order to “prevent the right-wing idiot”, he puts himself forward as a liberal counter-candidate.

The only question that remains is whether László’s marriage and he himself will survive the village election campaign?

Director’s Note by Ben von Grafenstein

“„Surviving Brandenburg” is a film about growing old, missteps and the post-midlife crisis with a highly topical reference to the political situation in Germany and Europe. Despite and precisely because of the important social and political background, Überleben in Brandenburg is a film for the audience, an entertaining comedy.

At the centre of the story is László Kovács, a discarded best-ager director. The film deals with many personal experiences and stories about Zoltan Paul. Zoltan lived as an indie director in the Brandenburg countryside. The crisis of meaning that László experiences is all too familiar to him as a filmmaker. László Kovács is actually Zoltan Paul’s alter ego. The film draws its comedic power from Zoltan’s self-deprecating, unsparing portrayal and his honest and courageous way of dealing with himself. That was and has been the film’s concept from the very beginning.

Unfortunately, there is something very sad about the film’s genesis. Zoltan and I lived on the same lake in Brandenburg, just a few rowing strokes away. We spent almost every weekend there with friends over the last few years. We drank, argued, had inspiring and less inspiring conversations – a bit like in a film. A few years ago, Zoltan asked me if I wanted to work with him on his last film before he retired. We started talking about the story. As he was playing the lead role, he asked me if I would like to direct the film with him. Being involved in film projects myself, I had to say no. Then Zoltan died unexpectedly and everyone was shocked. Although the main shooting had been completed, the unfinished and not yet functioning film lay idle.

There were many attempts to integrate Zoltan’s death into the film with reshoots and voiceovers. It was only after a long struggle that I decided to take over the baton, the direction, and discard all these concepts. I worked on the film for about a year, concentrating on the story, characters and humour. Dialogue was written and inserted where necessary and the ending was reshot in the form of a kiss-off. Together with Julian Adam Pajzs, Zoltan’s son and film musician, we both wanted to avoid the well-trodden paths of folk music, western or country music that you often hear in German village comedies. Inspired by old master Piero Umiliani and South American rhythms, we created a mixture of lo-fi sound aesthetics and an emotional score that gives the film something special, warm and quirky at the same time.

Despite the politically serious background, “Surviving Brandenburg” is a warm-hearted, touching film. A film about life and survival. It is a film for Zoltan: a fun-loving, quirky bon vivant, a colleague – a loyal friend.”

Original title: Überleben in Brandenburg

Directors: Zoltan Paul, Ben von Grafenstein

Screenplay: Zoltan Paul

Cast: Zoltan Paul (László), Adele Neuhauser (Emma Meisel), Dietrich Hollinderbäumer (Fritz), Joachim Paul Assböck (Weidland), Laszlo I. Kish (Karcsi), Sabine Waibel (Lisa), Werner Eng (Mario), Ralph Herforth (Clemens), Attila Georg Borlan (Attila), Gisa Flake (Chantal), André Fischer (Andrzej), Ulrike Bliefert (László’s mother), Dietrich Hollinderbäumer (Fritz Meisel), Monica Reyes (journalist), Ruth Rosenfeld (Sabrina), Jessica Sy (Rita), and many more.

Producer: Clementina Hegewisch, Jan Kerhart, Sandra Maischberger (Production)

Cinematography: Jan Kerhart

Editing: Ben von Grafenstein, Antje Lass, Sebastian Bonde, Mirja Gerle

Sound: André Goeters

Visual effects: Roman Gonther

Music: Julian Adam Pajzs


Year of production: 2023

Production companies: Vincent Productions, NEXT Film

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Country: Germany

Language: German

Subtitles: English


Length: 80 min

Rating: FSK 12

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (2048×858 pixels)

Frame rate: 25 fps

Sound: Surround 5.1, Stereo 2.0

Resolution: digital 2K

More titles:

German: Über Leben in Brandenburg (Festival title), ÜberLeben in Brandenburg (working title)

English: Surviving Brandenburg, About Living in Brandenburg (alternative title)

World premiere:

57th Hof International Film Festival on 26.10.2023

Film label: Darling Berlin

Distributor: UCM.ONE


Theatrical start Germany: April 11, 2024

About Zoltan Paul (director, screenplay and leading role) [László Kovács]

Zoltan Paul (real name: Zoltan Paul Pajzs Freiherr von Rácalmás) was born in Budapest in 1953 and emigrated to Austria at the age of 12, where he initially turned to rock music. He graduated from drama school in Vienna in 1978. During his training, he published several short stories in Viennese literary magazines and took part in the Orgien-Mysterien-Theater of the Viennese actionist Hermann Nitsch. After roles in films by Michael Haneke (“Lemminge“, 1979), Reinhard Schwabenitzky and others and a two-year engagement at the Schauspielhaus Vienna, he went on to theatre engagements at the Stadttheater Münster, the Vereinigte Städtische Bühnen Krefeld and Mönchengladbach and four years at the Grillo-Theater Essen. He also acted in German television productions.

In the 1990s, he switched to directing and staged productions at theatres in Austria and Germany. His own plays “Salieri’s Mozart” (Vienna, Innsbruck) and “Rausch“, a rock opera freely adapted from the play “The Liar” by Carlo Goldoni, deserve special mention. He began writing his own screenplays with the aim of directing films.

 Zoltan Paul realised his first short film “Gone” in 2001.

In 2003, he made the feature film “Gone – A Deadly Passion“, produced by his own company Atoll Film and produced by 13th Street / Universal Studios Network, with his then wife Adele Neuhauser in the leading role. The film was shown in competition at the A-Festival Internacional de Cine de Mar del Plata in Argentina in 2004 and in German cinemas from 7 March 2004.

In 2008, Zoltan Paul directed the comedy “Unter Strom“, produced by NEXT Film Filmproduktion Berlin, for which he received the Thomas Pluch Award for the screenplay. The film, whose music was written by his son Julian Adam Pajzs, had its world premiere at the Munich Film Festival in June 2009 and was released in German cinemas on 10 December 2009. In Austria, the film was released in October 2010. 2012 saw the release of the film “Frauensee“. The film about a quartet of homosexual women was shown at the Hof Film Festival and at the Asian Film Festival in Busan, South Korea, as well as at gay and lesbian film festivals in Toronto, San Francisco, Milan, Boston, Lisbon, Prague and 30 other cities. “Frauensee” was released in cinemas in 2013 by Edition Salzgeber.

This was followed in 2014 by “Amok – Hansi geht’s gut“, a crowdfunded film production that celebrated its world premiere at the Hof Film Festival and was shown immediately afterwards in competition at the Biberach Film Festival. The film was released via the Darling Berlin label in May 2015 and filming for “Breakdown in Tokyo – A father goes crazy” began in September 2015. A documentary film team accompanied the Futur-Rock band from Berlin on their tour of Japan. When the somewhat older director (Zoltan Paul as “László”) falls in love with a young Japanese woman, the film mutates into a music road movie tragicomedy with turbulent emotional rollercoaster rides for everyone involved.

Zoltan Paul died unexpectedly in the summer of 2022, before completion, but after finishing the main shooting of the film “Surviving Brandenburg” (German title: “Überleben in Brandenburg“), which he had written. Zoltan Paul was a member of the German Film Academy.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Book, Director), feature film, 80 Min
2016 Breakdown in Tokyo (Book, Director, Producer), feature film, 82 Min
2014 Amok – Hansi geht’s gut (Book, Director, Producer), feature film, 84 Min
2012 Frauensee (Book, Director), feature film, 90 Min
2009 Unter Strom (Book, Director), feature film, 90 Min
2001 Gone – Eine tödliche Leidenschaft (Book, Director, Producer), feature film, 84 Min

About Ben von Grafenstein (director and editor)

Ben von Grafenstein was born in Würzburg in 1975. He began his film career as a film editor for feature films, documentaries and commercials. From 2000, Ben von Grafenstein studied “scenic directing” at the Baden-Württemberg Film Academy.

Ben von Grafenstein has lived and worked as a writer, director, producer and film editor in Berlin since 2006. His films “Blindflug” and “Kasimir und Karoline” have been shown at international film festivals, including the Berlinale and the Munich Film Festival. Ben von Grafenstein has also directed, co-written and edited several TV films.

His feature-length film “Die Ungewollten – Die Irrfahrt der St. Louis” was nominated for the Rockie Award of the Banff World Media Festival 2020 in the TV Movie category and won the Robert Geisendörfer Award 2021.

In autumn 2023, his film “Surviving Brandenburg” (directed by Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein) premiered at the Hof International Film Festival. In addition to his work as a filmmaker and producer, Ben von Grafenstein is also a film lecturer.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director, Editing), feature film
2022/23 Letzter Vorhang / The Intermission (Screenplay, Director, Editing), short film
2019 Die Ungewollten – Die Irrfahrten der St. Louis (Director, Editing), feature film
2014/15 Die Klasse – Berlin 61 (Director, Co-author), Spielfilm
2013 Helmut Schmidt – Lebensfragen (Director), Dokumentarfilm
2011 Kasimir und Karoline (Director, Co-author), Spielfilm
2006/07 Blindflug (Director, Co-author), Spielfilm

About Sandra Maischberger (production / Vincent Productions)

Sandra Maischberger was born in Munich. From 1985, she was a presenter at Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR). She completed her training at the German School of Journalism in Munich in 1987.

Since 1988 she has worked regularly as a TV presenter for broadcasters and programmes such as Tele 5, BRLive aus dem Schlachthof“, SAT 1Talk im Turm“, Premiere0137“, VOXSpiegel TV Interview“, n-tvmaischberger“.

Since 2003, she has been the presenter of the ARD programme “maischberger” (formerly “Menschen bei Maischberger” and “maischberger.die woche“) named after her.

Since 2001, Sandra Maischberger has also been active as a documentary filmmaker (including “50 Jahre Tagesschau“; “Helmut Schmidt außer Dienst“; “Richard von Weizsäcker – für immer Präsident“; “Pershing statt Petting“). She has also been a producer and managing director of vincent productions since 2000. The company has produced films such as “Ein blinder Held – Die Liebe des Otto Weidt“; “Der gute Göring“, “Mata Hari und Mademoiselle Docteur” and “Nur eine Frau“.

Filmography (Production – Selection)

2023 Die wilden Pferde von Doñana (Director: Nadja Frenz), documentary (ZDF)
Überleben in Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben & Grafenstein), feature film
Riefenstahl (Director: Andres Veiel), docuemntary
2022 Kennedys Liebe zu Europa (Director: Kai Christiansen), documentary (arte, NDR, ORF)
Königreich Jordanien (Director: Steven Galling), documentary series (arte, NDR)
2021/22 Raue Welten – Wilde Schönheiten (Director: Jeremy Jozsef Pierre Fekete), documentary series (arte, ServusTV, ZDF)
2021 Jugo Kultura – 30 Jahre nach dem Zerfall Jugoslawiens (Director: Nadja Frenz), documentary (3sat, ZDF)
Muslimisch. Modern. (Director: Nadja Frenz), documentary (3sat, ZDF)
2020 Früchte des Zorns (Director: Nadja Frenz), documentary (3sat, ZDF)
2018 Nur eine Frau (Director: Sherry Hormann), feature movie
2016 Mata Hari – Tanz mit dem Tod (Director: Kai Christiansen), docu feature film (NDR, rbb, SWR)
Der Traum des Dirigenten Kent Nagano (Director: Inge Kloepfer, Nadja Frenz), docuementary (NDR)
2015 Der gute Göring (Director: Kai Christiansen), TV film (BR, NDR)
Der Wüstenkrieg – Islamisten in der Sahara (Regie: Michael Richter), documentary (arte, NDR)
Schau in meine Welt – Avraham und seine neue Heimat (Director: Andrea Morgenthaler), documentaries series (KiKA)
2014 Ein blinder Held – Die Liebe das Otto Weidt (Director: Kai Christiansen), feature film (NDR, WDR, rbb, HR)

Filmography (Director – Selection)

2013 Helmut Schmidt und Valery Giscard D’Estaing – Eine Männerfreundschaft, Documentary (arte, ZDFinfo)
2011 Pershing statt Petting (Regie zusammen mit Jan N. Lorenzen), Documentary series (ZDF)
2009 Richard von Weizäcker – Für immer Präsident, documentary (NDR)

About Jan Kerhart (cinematography & producer / Vincent Productions)

Born in Prague in 1960, Jan Kerhart studied there at Charles University until 1983. In 1985, he began working as a freelance cameraman in Germany, with professional stays in Jerusalem, London, Brussels and the USA.

From 1988-1994, he was managing partner of Spectrafilm GmbH. In 1995, he founded the company Vincent Film GmbH, of which he is still managing director today. As chief cameraman, he established the visual language of “SPIEGEL TV Interview” and “Das wahre Leben“, among others.

Jan Kerhart realised the visual design of fictional material such as “Durch die Blume(1st prize Biberach, 1st prize Murnau),Ipanema“, “Mata Hari” and docudramas such as “Schabowsisettel“, “Die Geheimdienstlegende – Reinhard Gehlen und NND“, director of “Es ist 20 Uhr – Die Tagesschau wird 50“, “Der große Postzugraub“, “Ein blinder Held – die Liebe des Otto Weidt(Gold Award Winner New York Festivals) and “Der gute Göring“.

His portrait works include “Helmut Schmidt – Off Duty (Golden Camera), “Dr Wedel & Mr Hyde“, “Richard von Weizsäcker – Forever President” and “Helmut Kohl – A German Chancellor“. His work includes a large number of documentaries such as “Wenn der Kopf den Körper trägt“, “Viel Passiert” (Wim Wenders), “Die letzte Schlacht“, “50 Jahre RAF“, “Die Jadestraße“, “Die gekaufte Revolution“, “Richard Wagner – Ein Deutsches Drama” and “Johana und die Mächte der Finsternis“,

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul und Ben & Grafenstein), feature movie
Sound of Cabo Verde – The Legacy of Cesária Évora (Director & Cinematography), music movie
2022 Komm mit mir in das Cinema – Die Gregors (Director: Alice Agneskirchner), documentary
2018 Breakdown in Tokyo (Director: Zoltan Paul, co-director & cinematography), feature film  
D-Mark, Einheit, Vaterland – Das schwierige Erbe der Treuhand  (Director Kai Wessel), documentary
2014 Ein blinder Held – Die Liebe des Otto Weidt (Director: Kai Christiansen), feature film (NDR, WDR, rbb, HR)

About Clementina Hegewisch (producer / NEXT Film)

Clementina Hegewisch was born in Hamburg in 1959 and studied psychology in Hamburg and London from 1977 to 1983, graduating in 1983.

Subsequently (1983-1991), Clementina Hegewisch held various positions in film, TV and advertising (including driver, costume design, set design, equipment, recording, production and production management) and worked in theatres (including costumes, sponsoring agent) and as an art consultant.

During these years she worked with Udo Lindenberg, Peter Zadek, Wolfgang Mühlbauer, Hans Noever, Ian McNoughton and many others.

From 1991, Clementina Hegewisch worked as a co-author and dramaturge on various scripts for TV series (including “Alarm for Cobra 11” and “The Glacier Clan“). She was also responsible for the concept and design of the Berlin cocktail bar “green door” as managing director from 1995 to 2000.

From 2016 to 2023, she was Managing Director of Neue Impuls Film Produktionsgesellschaft mbH, where she also worked as a producer. Clementina Hegewisch has been managing director and partner of NEXT Film Filmproduktion since 2000 and its sole owner since 2007. In addition to managing the company, she mainly works as a producer, production manager and dramaturge.

Clementina Hegewisch is a member of the German Film Academy and the European Film Academy and a guest lecturer at the German Film and Television Academy (dffb) in Berlin.

Filmography (Producer – Selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
2018 Als Hitler das rosa Kaninchen stahl (based on the bestseller by Judith Kerr, written and directed by Caroline Link), feature movie
2017 Nur ein Augenblick (Director: Randa Chahoud), feature film
2016 Breakdown in Tokyo (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature film
2011 Frauensee (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature film
2009 Unter Strom (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature film
2007/08 Schattenwelt (Director: Connie Walther), feature film
2006 Demokratische Schulen (Director:: Jan Gabbert), documentary
2005/06 Detektive (Director:: Andreas Goldstein), short film
2005 Mein Überleben in Kolbuszowa (Director: Helga Hirsch), documentary
2004 Max & Moritz Reloaded (Director: Thomas Frydetzki), feature film
Klaus Kuron – Spion in eigener Sache (Director: Thomas Knauf), documentary
2002 Führer X (Director: Winfried Bohnengel), feature film

Producer’s Note by Clementina Hegewisch

“Zoltan Paul has always drawn inspiration, strength and content for his films from his own personal experience. He improvised a lot and acted spontaneously. As producers, we are sometimes in the role of capturing the beauty of a force of nature rather than organising an orderly process. In his previous film “Breakown in Tokyo”, Zoltan not only invented his alter ego László Kovács, but also played him himself. He wanted to keep this character alive, and that’s what the aforementioned Lászó now does in “Survival in Brandenburg”. Once again, Zoltan Paul brings his own life into the film in a comical, highly self-ironic and uninhibited way. The first task was to condense Zoltan Paul’s film idea into a screenplay.

Two motifs moved him when writing the book: on the one hand, the inner world, characterised by the impositions of getting older, the sudden loss of professional opportunities, the clear feeling that one is being discarded. On the other hand, the events in the outside world, a darkening social mood in which people, confronted with a variety of problems in a globalised world, yearn for simple answers. Even or especially in a rural environment, which often loses sight of the problems faced by decision-makers in the metropolises. Zoltan Paul developed the screenplay for “Survival in Brandenburg” from these two strands, repeatedly slowed down or fuelled by current political events and always in discussion with his family and his friends Jan Kerhart, Nina Grosse and Ben von Grafenstein.

After a period of uncertainty, heartache and despair, protagonist László realises that he doesn’t just have to be the object of political developments, but can also become active himself. Even though the sphere of influence of a village mayor is limited, he decides to run for political office. He successfully tries to stop the emerging triumph of the right-wing populist candidate in his constituency and at the same time frees himself from his life crisis.

It is and remains a great challenge to shoot an independent film with very limited resources, but the freedom of choice that comes with it is worth it. The team around Zoltan Paul also made a virtue out of necessity: many of the film locations are personal places, belong to friends and family and are authentic. The majority of the extras were the actual inhabitants of the location. The team was a mixture of old companions of Zoltan’s and very young creatives at the beginning of their careers. The filming days were often long but almost always creative and fun. And last but not least, Zoltan Paul’s own style of improvised acting characterised these shoots. The self-ironic attitude of the main actor László, who plays with his own autobiography, is reminiscent of the ironically exaggerated early films of Nanni Moretti. The film also thrives on the atmospherically harmonious confrontations between the multicultural city dweller László and his family and the long-established inhabitants of his East German village, who initially observed the Westerner with great suspicion.

But the real challenge didn’t present itself until the last clapperboard had fallen and the happy team had celebrated the end of filming. Not long afterwards, a stroke of fate suddenly took Zoltan, who had just been inspired by the prospect of being able to complete the film in post-production with his friend and colleague Ben von Grafenstein, who had already edited “Breakdown in Tokyo”. We, his family and friends, who were also his producers, first had to recover from this heavy blow. The question soon arose as to whether it was even possible to complete such a personal film without the help of the writer and director.

Only gradually did a plan mature as to how “Survival in Brandenburg” could be realised in the end. Ben von Grafenstein picked up the baton and turned Zoltan Paul’s film, with his tremendous sense of rhythm and his wonderful talent for finding the right balance between comedy and tragicomedy, into a work that we would now like to present to the public.

The film fits perfectly into the election year 2024, in which a further strengthening of right-wing populist movements is to be feared, especially in the eastern German states. However, it also fits in at a time when a significant proportion of the population is having to reinvent itself – whether for reasons of age or because external circumstances no longer allow us to “carry on like this” in our old comfort zone. The producers are looking forward to a lively dialogue with the audience. At the film premiere in Hof in autumn 2023, we were able to experience a foretaste. An elderly couple spoke up: “They had come to Hof from their home town in Brandenburg especially for our film because the husband was about to decide to run for mayor in his village in order to prevent an AfD opponent. A response like that would have made Zoltan very happy.”

About Adele Neuhauser (role: Emma, Lásló’s wife)

Born in Athens, Adele Neuhauser moved with her family from Greece to Vienna at the age of four, where she grew up. Adele Neuhauser wanted to be an actress from the age of six. After training as an actress, she began performing on stage, including in Münster, Essen, Mainz and occasionally in Vienna.

Neuhauser caused a national sensation in the production of “Faust” at the Regensburg City Theatre, in which she played Mephisto as a woman. She has also appeared in cinema films such as “Helden in Tirol” (directed by Niki List), “Gone – eine tödliche Leidenschaft” (directed by Zoltan Paul), “Wo ist Fred?” (director: Anno Saul), “Die Perlmutterfarbe” (director: Marcus H. Rosenmüller, “3faltig” (director: Harald Sicheritz), “Räuber Kneißl” (director: Marcus H. Rosenmüller) and in the cult TV series “Vier Frauen und ein Todesfall“, in which she played the role of farmer’s wife Jule Zirbner. Most recently, she was seen on ORF in the film “Steiererrausch” (director: Wolfgang Murnberger) and in the mini-series “Unter Freunden stirbt man nicht” on TV Now (director: Felix Stienz).

At the Munich Film Festival 2021, she celebrated a great success as the lead role in the ARD comedy “Faltenfrei” and last year she once again took on the lead role in the film “Ungeschminkt“, directed by Dirk Kummer.

Since 2010, she has successfully played the investigator Bibi Fellner alongside Harald Krassnitzer (as Moritz Eisner) in ORF‘s Vienna crime series. Since 2014, she has also appeared in the literature & music productions “Die letzten ihrer Art” and “Mythos” together with her son, guitarist Julian Pajzs.

Filmography (cinema – selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
2022 15 Jahre (Director: Chris Kraus), feature film
2018 Love Machine (Director: Andreas Schmied), feature film 
2007 Räuber Kneissl (Director: Marcus H. Rosenmüller), feature film

Filmography (TV – Selection)

2023 Ungeschminkt (Director: Dirk Kummer), Bavaria Fiction
2022 Charlotte, eine von uns (Director:: Rolando Colla), Peacock Film
Die rote Fini un die verschwundenen Millionen der SED (Director: Gabi Schlag), Ilona Grundmann Filmprod, ORF2, ZDF, arte
2023-2011 Tatort Wien (Director: divers), ARD/ORF
2020 Faltenfrei (Director: Dirk Kummer) Bavaria Fiction BR/ORF
2019-2005 Vier Frauen und ein Todesfall, 9 seasons (Director:: divers), DOR Film, ORF/ARD

About Dietrich Hollinderbäumer (role: Fritz, Emma’s father)

Dietrich Hollinderbäumer was born in Essen in 1942 and moved to Stockholm, Sweden, with his mother in 1951. After training as an aviation clerk with Lufthansa in Stockholm and completing his military service, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer trained as an actor at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm under the direction of Stig Torslow and Ingmar Bergman.

Dietrich Hollinderbäumer had his first theatre engagement from 1968 to 1972 as an actor, assistant director and director at the Westfälisches Landestheater in Castrop-Rauxel. This was followed by stints in Kiel, at the Deutsches Theater and the Junges Theater in Göttingen and at the Theater im Zimmer in Hamburg.

Between 1978 and 1983, he was a permanent member of the Städtische Bühnen Heidelberg as an actor and director. From 1983 to 1988 he was a member of the ensemble at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Since then he has worked as a freelance actor, including in Vienna (Theater in der Josefstadt, Volkstheater Wien), at Schauspiel Bonn, at Theater Bremen, at Schauspielhaus Zürich and at the Ernst-Deutsch-Theater in Hamburg. Dietrich Hollinderbäumer made his film debut in 1968 in the role of Günter Braun under the direction of Hans-Dieter Schwarze in the television production “Schichtwechsel“. Since the end of the 1980s, he has increasingly worked in film and television productions.

In the cinema, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer has appeared in films such as “Georg Elser – Einer aus Deutschland” (1989) by Klaus Maria Brandauer and “Der Untergang” (2004) by Oliver Hirschbiegel. In 2008, he played a German sports organiser in the Swedish comedy “Männer im Wasser“.

For television in 2002, he acted in for the ARD two-part film “Der Seerosenteich“, based on the novel of the same name by Christian Pfannenschmidt, in locations in Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Paris and New York City in the leading role of cloth merchant Carl Trakenberg alongside Natalia Wörner, Anja Kling and Hannelore Elsner and was also seen in the two-part TV hit “Das Jesus Video” in the co-starring role of the client Kaun alongside Matthias Koeberlin as archaeology student Steffen Vogt. He has repeatedly appeared in crime thrillers, including the role of conference organiser and dentist Henry von Haase as the perpetrator in the episode “Zahn um Zahn” (2006) of the crime series “Ein starkes Team” and made several guest appearances in Tatort and the various SOKO programmes on ZDF.

Dietrich Hollinderbäumer had his first permanent series role as a police officer in the ARD crime series “Hecht & Haie“. From 1998 to 2001, he appeared in the Sat.1 action series “HeliCops – Einsatz über Berlin” in the role of police chief Dr Koch. From 2005 to 2020, he played Bastian Pastewka‘s father Volker in the Sat.1 comedy series “Pastewka“. Since 2009, Dietrich Hollinderbäumer has appeared as correspondent Ulrich von Heesen in the ZDF satire programme “heute-show“.

Filmography (selection)

2009-2024 heute-show (Director: divers), Prime Production, ZDF
2023 Überleben in Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul und Ben & Grafenstein), Spielfilm
Concordia (Director: Barbara Eder), Itagliofilms, ZDF
2022 Landkrimi Steiermark – Steierkunst (Director: Wolfgang Munrberger), Allegro Film, ARD & ORF
2005-2019 Pastewka (Director: divers), brainpool, ZDF
2018-2019 Dark, season 2 & 3 (Director: Baran Bo Odar), Netflix
2016 Angst (Director: Thomas Berger), Network Movie, ZDF
2003 Der Untergang (Director: Oliver Hirschbigel), Spielfilm

About Joachim Paul Assböck (Role: Tilo Weidland)

Joachim Paul Assboeck completed his training at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. In 1992, Steven Spielberg hired him for “Schindler’s List“. Since then, he has repeatedly worked with world-class film directors. With Roman Polanski in “The Pianist“, with Russel Mulcahy (“Highlander“) in “Lost Battalion” or Peter Hyams in “The Musketeer” alongside Catherine Deneuve and Mena Suvari, as Fritz Kiesewatter in “Charlatan” by Agnieszka Holland.

He has also appeared in leading roles in Russia, including as Martin Leitner in “Perevodchik” by Andrey Proshkin, as Karl Klyayst in “Snayper” by Aleksandr Efremov and in several productions by Murad Ibragimbekov.

On German television, Joachim Paul Assböck appeared in the comedy series “Danke Deutschland“, as well as in various television films, including “Weissensee“, “Soko Leipzig“, “Die Heiland“, “Gladbeck“, “Alarm für Cobra 11“, several “Tatort” episodes, and in “Babylon Berlin” by Tom Tykwer.

As a theatre actor, he has performed at the Salzburg Festival under the direction of Peter Stein. He was seen at the Piccolo Teatro Strehler di Milanno and Southbank Theatre in London with “Violett” by Wassily Kandinsky and as a regular guest under the direction of Franz Josef Heumannskämper at the Théâtre des Capucins in Luxembourg. In Berlin he played for 5 years in the Udo Lindenberg musical “Hinterm Horizont” at the theatre on Potsdamer Platz.

He also works as a dubbing actor and voice-over artist.

Filmography (cinema – selection)

2023 Überleben in Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben by Grafenstein), feature film
2020 Charlatan (Director: Agnieszka Holland), feature film
2018 Hot Dog (Director: Torsten Künstler), feature film
2016 Gernika (Director: Koldo Serra), feature film
2015 Bridge of Spies – Der Unterhändler (Director: Steven Spielberg), feature film
2013 Die Bücherdiebin (Director: Brian Percival),feature film
2011 Lidice (Director: Petr Nikolaev), feature film
Remembrance – Die verlorene Zeit (Director: Anna Justice)
2010 In Darkness (Director: Agnieszka Holland), feature film
Joanna (Director: Feliks Falk), feature film
2007 Das Massaker von Katyn ( Director: Andrzej Wajda), feature film
3 Girls (Director: Murad Ibragimbekov), feature film
2002 Der Pianist (Director: Roman Polanski), feature film
2001 The Musketeer – Der junge D’Artagnan (Director: Peter Hyams), feature film
Invincible – Unbesiegbar (Director: Werner Herzog), feature film
1993 Schindlers Liste (Director: Steven Spielberg), feature film

Filmography (TV – Selection)

2024 Masters of Air, season 1 (Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga), Apple TV
2021 Oslo (Director: Bartlett Sher), HBO
2019 Dark, 1 Folge (Director: Baran bo Odar), Netflix
The Witcher, 1 episode (Director: Charlotte Brandstrom), Netflix
2018 Danke Deutschland! (Director: Holger Schmidt), ZDF
2017 Babylon Berlin, 4 episodes (Director: Tom Tykwer, Achim v. Borries, Henk Handloegten), Sky, ARD
2014 Perevodchik – Übersetzer (Director: Andrei Proshkin), RU 1
2009 Stalingrad Snipers, 4 episodes (Director: Alexander Efremov), RU 1
Trust.Wohltat (Director: Eicke Bettinga), ZDF
Romy (Director: Torsten C. Fischer), ARD, France 2
2002 Joe and Max – Rivalen im Ring (Director: Steve James), Starz Television
2001 The Lost Battalion (Director: Russell Mulcahy), Prinz Carousel / A&E
2000 Monsignor Renard (Director: Mowbray & David Wheatley), Carlton TV Malcom
1997 Im Fahrwasser des Todes (Director: David Drury), BBC, HBO

About László I. Kish (role: Karcsi)

Born in 1957 in Basel, Switzerland, László I. Kish lives in Mecklenburg, Berlin and Basel. He began his career in 1981 at the Schauspielhaus in Zurich. This was followed by engagements in Cologne, Basel, Bonn, Essen, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Berlin, among others.

He has also appeared in over 100 German-language and international cinema and television films such as “Quicker than the Eye” by Nicolas Gessner, “Salt on our Skin” by Andrew Birkin and “Dune” by John Harrison. In the saga “Die zweite Heimat” by Edgar Reitz, he was seen as the young film director Reinhard Dörr in one of the continuous leading roles. He became known to a wider audience when he played the role of the detective “von Burg” in the Swiss crime series Tatort for several years from 1993. He can currently be seen on Netflix in the mini-series “Buried Truth“.

In 1994, László I. Kish founded the production company Hearts & Brains unlimited. The film “Goosebumps“, which he subsequently scripted and directed, was awarded Best Short Film at Locarno and received the Swiss Quality Award. Likewise three years later “Halbe Herzen“. As a filmmaker and author, László I. Kish‘s assignments took him to Mali several times, where he made films about Aids, street children and migrants.

László I. Kish has lived with actress and author Ulrike Bliefert in Mecklenburg since 2014, where he is involved in local politics as a local councillor.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
2022 Briefe aus dem Jenseits (Director: Niki Stein), ZDF
Blokád (Director: Adam Tösér), Spielfilm, Hungarian Film
Nürnberg (Director: N.Lebedev), Spielfilm, K-International Moscow
2021 Wilder IV (Director: Claudio Fäh), SFS, Netflix CH
2020 Unverblümt (Director: Kerstin Polte), ZDF
2019 Getrieben (Director: Stephan Wagner), ARD
2018 SOKO Leipzig (Director: Peter Winczewski), ZDF
2017 Bad Cops (Director: Peter Ladkani), RTL
2016 SOKO Köln – Krüger ist tot (Director: Ulrike Hamacher), ZDF
2015 Grand Hotel Imperial (Director: Luca Ribuoli), RAI
2014 Die Eisläuferin (Director: Franziska Meyer-Price), ARD / Real Film
2013 Überleben an der Scheidungsfront (Director: Titus Selge), ZDF
The Ambassador to Bern (Director: Attila Szász), Spielfilm
Doc Meets Dorf (Director: Franziska Meyer-Price), RTL
2012 Letze Runde (Director: Kerstin Polte), Spielfilm
Ricky – Normal war gestern (Director: Kai S. Pieck), Spielfilm
2011 Notruf Hafenkante (Director: Jörg Schneider), ZDF
Friedrich – Ein deutscher König (Director: Jan Peter), documentary
Danni Lowinski (Director: Dagmar Seume), Sat 1
Himmelfahrtskomando (Director: Denis Ledergerber), feature film
2010 Wiedersehen mit einem Fremden (Director: Niki Stein), SWR, ARD
2009 La Donna Velata (Director: Edoardo Margheriti), feature film

About Sabine Waibel (role: Lisa, the “mad woman” from the neighbouring village)

Sabine Waibel was born in Vienna. After training as an actress at the Franz Schubert Conservatory, she had her first theatre engagements in St. Pölten, Braunschweig and Kassel. She was a member of the ensemble at Schauspiel Frankfurt from 2004 to 2009 and then at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin until 2014. She has been a freelancer since 2016 and has performed at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, the Berliner Volksbühne, the Neumarkt Theatre in Zurich and continuously at Schauspiel Köln. In addition to her theatre work, she has made radio plays and radio broadcasts for ORF and acted in various film and television productions.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature movie
Die Toten von Salzburg (Director: Erhart Riedlsperger), ORF
2021 Wer einmal stirbt dem glaubt man nicht (Director: Dirk Kummer), ARD
2020 SOKO Potsdam (Director: Felix Ahrens), ZDF
2019 Schnell ermittelt (Director: Gerald Liegel), ORF
2018 Erbschaftsangelegenheiten (Director: Gerald Liegel), ORF
2016 Pokerface – Oma zockt sie alle ab (Director: Erhart Riedlsperger), ARD, ORF
2015 Tatort – Das Muli (Director: Stephan Wagner), ARD
2014 Alles Fleisch ist Gras (Director: Reinhold Bilgeri), ORF

In 2021, she appeared alongside Heino Ferch in the TV comedy “Wer einmal stirbt dem glaubt man nicht“. In the same year, she was nominated for Actress of the Year by the magazine Theater heute for her role as Clytemnestra in the play “Mourning becomes Electra” at the Volksbühne in Berlin. Sabine Waibel lives in Berlin.

About Werner Eng (role: Mario)

Werner Eng, born in Brazil in 1967, is a German actor. From 1985 – 1989 he studied acting at the Novalis Schule für Sprachgestaltung und Dramatische Kunst in Stuttgart.

Since 1990, numerous theatre engagements have taken him to Stuttgart, St. Pölten, Graz, Vienna, Göttingen, Potsdam, Magdeburg, Meiningen, Halle, Dessau, Zurich, Basel, Bochum and Berlin.

From 2004 to 2017, he was a permanent guest at the Volksbühne Berlin. There he worked with directors such as Sebastian Hartmann, Sebastian Baumgarten and Herbert Fritsch.

He has worked with Herbert Fritsch for many years on plays such as “Die Spanische Fliege“, “Murmel Murmel“, “Ohne Titel Nr. 1“, “der die mann” and “Pfusch“, which were invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen. From 2017 – 2020 Werner Eng was an ensemble member of the Berliner Schaubühne. There he also worked with Herbert Fritsch, creating plays such as “Zeppelin“, “Null“, “Champignol” and “Amphytrion“. Since 2023, Werner Eng has been performing in Sebastian Baumgarten‘s production of “Amerika” by Franz Kafka at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
2019 Keine Geister die er rief (Director: Evy Schubert), feature film
2015 Dominus Dixit (Director: Evy Schubert), feature film
2019 Korridor Nr. 50 (Director: Evy Schubert), feature film
2014 Amok (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature film
2013 Es war zweimal (Director: Evy Schubert), feature film
2010 Elf Onkel (Director: Herbert Fritsch), feature film

About Ralph Herforth (role: Clemens)

Ralph Herforth, born in 1960, began his training at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna in 1979 and graduated in 1982. He had his first engagement at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin in 1983. Ralph Herforth subsequently made further appearances at the Stadttheater Heilbronn and the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf.

He made his screen debut in 1992 in the film “Schattenboxer” directed by Lars Becker, followed by various film and television productions with renowned directors such as Fatih Akın, Roland Suso Richter and Friedemann Fromm.

He also appeared in major cinema productions as a supporting actor, such as in “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door“, “Kurz und schmerzlos” and “Der Eisbär” alongside Til Schweiger, before being offered one of the leading roles in Dominik Graf‘s “Der Felsen“. In 2005, Ralph Herforth played a killer in “Æon Flux” alongside Charlize Theron.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
The Zone of Interest (Director: Jonathan Glazer), feature film
Unter anderen Umständen – Im freien Fall (Director: Judith Kennel), Serie, ZDF
Tatort – Wunderkind Director: Thomas Stiller), BR, ARD
Unter anderen Umständen – Dominiks Geheimnis (Director: Ziska Riemann), Serie, ZDF
2022 Unter anderen Umständen – Unter den Wolken (Director: Gunnar Fuss), Serie, ZDF
2020 8 Zeugen (Director: Jörg Lühdorff), series, TV Now
Billy Kuckuck – Angezählt (Director: Thomas Freundner), Serie, SWR, ARD
Elf Onkel (Director: Herbert Fritsch), feature film
2019 Freaks – Du bist eine von uns (Director: Felix Binder), Netflix, ZDF
König der Raben (Director: Piotr Lewandowski), feature film
2018 Skylines (Director: Maximilian Erlenwein, Soleen Yusef), series, Netflix

About Attila Georg Borlan (role: Attila)

Attila Georg Borlan was born in Jimbolia (Hatzfeld), Banat, Romania in 1968. He grew up trilingual, with German and Hungarian (both native speakers) and Romanian. After completing his German-language Abitur in Romania, he came to Germany as a late resettler.

From 1991 to 1994, he completed his artistic training at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, specialising in acting, singing and dance.

In addition to numerous theatre engagements, Borlan works primarily for film and television. Attila Georg Borlan‘s first film work, including short films, dates back to the early 1990s. His cinema roles include the film drama “Heimkehr” (2003: directed by Damir Lukačević) and “Blindflug“, the cinema debut of director Ben von Grafenstein, in which he co-starred with Michael Rotschopf. In the homosexual drama “Freier Fall” (2013), he played the unpleasant instructor Werner Brandt.

He has appeared in the TV series “Medicopter 117 – Jedes Leben zählt” (2000), “Unser Charly” (2009), “Forsthaus Falkenau” (2013) and many more.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Überleben in Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul und Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
Die Ermittler (Director: RP Kahl), feature film
2022 Tatort – Die Geisterfahrt (Director: Christine Hartmann), TV series, NDR
2020 Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (Regie: Philipp Kadelbach), TV series, Amazon Prime Video
2017-2020 SOKO Stuttgart (Director: divers), TV series, ZDF
2019 Die Ungewollten – Die Irrfahrt der St. Louis (Director: Ben von Grafenstein), documentary, HR, NDR, rbb, SWR
2018 Das Boot (Director: Andrea Prochaska), series, Sky
2015 Das kalte Herz (Director: Johannes Naber), feature film
Freier Fall (Director: Stephan Lacant), feature film

About Ulrike Bliefert (role: Lázló’s 90-year-old mother)

Ulrike Bliefert studied German, English, drama and theatre studies.

Since 1974 she has worked as a stage, film and television actress, radio play narrator, screenplay, stage and novel author.

About the filming of “Surviving Brandenburg”:

The set had conjured up an unmistakably Hungarian garden idyll with a birthday coffee table for the scene. I felt like I was in Szeged with my family (by marriage).

Zoltan: “And please speak like Marika Röck.”

Or like my Hungarian mother-in-law, for whom I remained “Urrickää” all my life.

“Mókuskám” … – “My squirrel”.

It was a wonderful, warm summer afternoon that still resonates with me today.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
Und dann steht einer auf und öffnet das Fenster, TV movie
2022 Mittagsstunde (Regie: Lars Jessen), feature film
2021 Immer der Nase nach, TV movie
2020 Unverblümt, TV movie

SOKO Köln, 1 episode, TV series

2019 Auf dünnem Eis, TV movie
2018 Kreuzfahrt ins Glück, 1 episode, TV series
Heldt – Ein perfekte Familie, TV movie
Lotta & der schöne Schein,1 episode, TV series
2017 Die Spezialisten – Im Namen der Opfer,1 episode, TV series
Die Eifelpraxis Fernsehserie,1 episode, TV series

About Gisa Flake (role: Chantal)

Born in Braunschweig, Gisa Flake studied acting at the Bavarian Theatre Academy August Everding from 2006 to 2010. Since then, she has appeared in various film, TV and theatre productions, sings in blues and soul bands and performs as a cabaret artist.

She made her film debut in 2009 in Michael Herbig‘s film “Wickie und die starken Männer“, in which she appeared as Tjure‘s wife. In 2011, she also played the same role in the sequel “Wickie auf großer Fahrt“.

In 2009, she won the Bundeswettbewerb Gesang Berlin in the “Musical/Chanson” category and went on tour throughout Germany in 2010 with her programme “Ich glaub, ‘ne Dame werd ich nie“. In 2010, she appeared as Tanya Gleason in Simon Stephen‘s play “Punkrock” (director: Daniel Wahl) at the Hamburg Schauspielhaus and in 2014 in Tobias Ginsburg‘s “Radikal. Monument to Decay” at i-camp Munich. Her new cabaret programme “Scham & Schande” followed in 2015.

Gisa Flake worked with Michael Herbig again in 2013 for the sitcom “Bully macht Buddy“. She took on one of the leading roles alongside Rick Kavanian and Bully Herbig. In 2015, she appeared in the ZDF thriller series “Blochin – Die Lebenden und die Toten” alongside Jürgen Vogel. Since 2018, she has appeared in the TV series “Ella Schön“.

Filmography (selection)

2023 Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film
Kannawoniwasein! (Director: Stefan Westerwelle), feature film
Polizeiruf 110: Cottbus Kopflos, TV movie
SOKO Hamburg: Das Leben ist eine Baustelle, TV movie
2020 Unverblümt, TV movie

SOKO Köln, 1 episode, TV series

2020 Heldt – Die Zuflucht, TV series
Freaks – Du bist eine von uns, TV movie

Systemsprenger (Director: Nora Fingscheidt), feature film

2017  Tigermilch, (Director: Ute Wieland), feature film
 4 Blocks, TV series

About André Fischer (role: Andrzej)

Born in Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, Fischer graduated from the Berlin School of Theatre Arts with a degree in dance, singing and acting. Since then, he has mainly worked as an author, director and actor in the fields of revue, music, show and playback theatre. He is co-founder of the Berlin theatre O-Ton-Art.

Theatre works (selection)

  • SOLO play: ‘Maman and I’ (French tragicomedy by Gaulliaume Gallienne), German premiere / Berlin 2016 / Theatre O-TonArt
    2014 Co-founder of Berliner Diven (musical theatre) Berlin / Theater O-TonArt (since 2014), ‘Berliner Diven‘ , ‘Frisch, Duftend & Bereit‘ , ‘Süsser die Diven nie Singen
    THEATER STRAHL ( youth theatre ) Berlin, ‘Volltreffer‘ , ‘Wilder Panther‘ , ‘Keks‘ , ‘Gleich knallts‘ , ‘Romeo u. Julia‘ (1995 – 2011 & tour)
    2010 Co-founder of the theatre O-TonArt / Berlin
    O-TONPIRATEN (show / music+film+theatre spectacle in full playback) Berlin, co-founder, acting , organisation , direction , dramaturgy , choreography, ‘Come(play)back‘ , ‘Liebe ist‘ , ‘Groß in Fahrt‘ , ‘Geschnitten vom Stück‘, ‘Roemisch Fuenf‘ (1999 – 2013, & tour )
    SOLO play: ‘Völlig ausgebucht‘ comedy, “Bar jeder Vernunft – Berlin” (2004)



Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), Spielfilm

About Julian Adam Pajzs (film music)

Julian Adam Pajzs, whose parents are the actor and director Zoltan Paul and the actress Adele Neuhauser, graduated from Weilheim grammar school in 2006.

He then studied jazz guitar at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz with Guido Jeszenszky (2011 Bachelor of Arts with honours) and at the Franz Liszt University of Music Weimar with Frank Möbus (2013 Master).

He initially worked in the group Beinfreiheit (with Adrian Kleinlosen, Lukas Raumberger, Valentin Schuster). Since 2011, he has been playing (with bass clarinettist Siegmar Brecher and drummer Valentin Schuster) in the trio Edi Nulz and has also been touring with Adele Neuhauser in the literature & music production “Die letzten ihrer Art” since 2014.

He also works with Schuster in the progressive metal duo “PeroPero“. He can also be heard on albums by Michael Lagger, Skin Ban, Jani Šepetavec, Krachberg and Julia Maier.

He composed several film scores for Zoltan Paul.

Filmography (film music)


Surviving Brandenburg (Director: Zoltan Paul & Ben von Grafenstein), feature film


Breakdown in Tokyo (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature film


Amok – Hansi geht es gut (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature film


Frauensee (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature movie


Unter Strom (Director: Zoltan Paul), feature movie

Surviving Brandenburg | Trailerᴴᴰ

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