Europäischer Autorenkreis für Film und Video e. V.
European Film & Video Makers Circle

Hammonia's Daughters

The long history of a short film

By Thomas Tiefelsdorf

April 14, 2013: The last shots for the Super 8 film "Hammonia's Daughters" are in the can.

I had almost given up all hope of completing the film. It was nearly 30 years ago that I first came up with the theme "Hammonia's daughters. It was 8 film in the first flowering of Super 8 films. I had graduated in the winter semester 1983/84 from the main building of the Adult Education Centre Hamburg-Ost in Farmsen in the beginners film course. Then I was a permanent participant in the course for advanced students, which met in the Volksdorfer Räucherkate.

Our teacher, Mrs. Engel, not only taught us the theory of film making, but also made us students do practical exercises. On 10 October 1985, the first night of the winter semester 1985/86, Mrs. Engel handed out a brochure entitled "Hammonia's Daughters". It was to be the basis of our next film exercises.

Three days later, on Sunday, 13 October 1985, the students of the film course met for the first shots in downtown Hamburg. On Hansaplatz we filmed Hammonia, the patron saint of Hamburg. She would be the starting point of our film.

At the next course evening the theoretical part was deepened.

A second location shoot on November 10, 1985 had to be cancelled due to rain. Mrs. Engel and I completed a third day of filming on 1 December 1985, when ice and snow filled the Hamburg city park. Diana, the goddess of hunting was on the schedule. Cold fingers and the lack of tripod are obvious on the shaky shots.

After that, probably in the course of 1986, individual students did more filming. But interest in "Hammonia's daughters" had ebbed sharply. Looking back over almost 30 years, I suspect that the reason for this was that we always had to make special appointments for group shoots on weekends (at that time we were all employed). In addition, in January 1986 Mrs. Engel had given out "The other side of",  the manuscript of a new project. "The other side of" is a small movie, which was filmed entirely in and in front of the Räucherkate. The film was completed within the year of 1986.

"Hammonia's daughters" fell into oblivion. We had dealt with the theory and our "exercises", filming sculptures, we had completed in our trip in October 1985. Thus, the treatment of the subject was actually completed. But for me the issue was not yet finished. I wanted to finish my film. I persuaded Mrs Engel to give me the previously filmed material, but also got no further with it. I had changed employers and had less free time than before.

And then "Christel von der Post", which had not yet been filmed, disappeared. The post office, before which she stood, was closed, the sculpture vanished and later the building was also demolished.

"Hammonia's daughters" appeared to be definitively forgotten. But then as I drove by one day I made an exciting discovery. The “Christel von der Post” was back! Just 100 meters from the old location. That awoke in me the ambition to finally make the film.

Thus far the film had been shot entirely on Kodachrome 40 Super 8 film. The production of this film was stopped in 2005. The energetic entrepreneurs Gottfried Klose and Daniel Wittner had with their brands "Cinevia" and "Wittnerchrome V50D" turned a Fuji slide film into Super-8 The colours were a little different than those of Kodachrome 40, but this was a compromise I had to make to be able to continue working.

On 30 July 2011, shooting resumed with the "Christel von der Post" in the Hoheluft Chaussee. A year later, on April 14, 2013, I filmed the last four objects [Images 8 and 9]. In the town hall lock on the little Alster the final clapper-board was marked.

Of the 21 sculptures that are listed in the treatment, I now had the appropriate shots for 19. The others were not used because the film would have been too long, or reshoots could not be performed because the figures and their views were overgrown on the Alster in recent years.

I created a video copy by myself from Super 8 film, as a basis for the rough and the fine cut. After I had a presentable rough cut, I got in touch with Mrs. Engel. During a visit with her in August 2013 and in some conference calls, we improved the assembly together and created the commentary.

In January 2014 I then had a professional copy of the film produced.

In April 2015 "Hammonia's daughters" was shown at Euro Forum North in Ammersbek. It was awarded a bronze medal, and further sent on to the Euro Film Festival in Ansbach. I did not expect this success. For me it was just important that despite all the shortcomings and deficiencies, I could finish the film. It would be a reminder of the time when it was begun, and the beautiful high school years with Mrs. Engel and all the other participants.