It’s nice to be blogging again, as I interrupt the Popcorn Snobs’ (semi)regularly scheduled “Taking of A-Z” series, in favor of world cinema. If you believe laughter is the best medicine, you need to get acquainted with Barbara Kronenberg, a German writer/director whose comedy Die Ballad Von Ella Plummhoff (The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff) is among the most anticipated shorts playing at the qFLIX film festival in Philadelphia, PA this weekend.
Dr. Sheena Howard and Wafiyyah Packer of the Women’s Screening Committee even cite it as one they would highly recommend people to come watch.
“I thought the angles and intensity of some of the shots were well put together,” praises Howard on the cinematography as well as the overall technical excellence of what she describes as “a really quirky” and entertaining short film. Packer agrees adding “I love teenage awkwardness….the way they told this coming-of-age story was great.” What’s interesting, however, is that this film almost didn’t get made. There was a time when Barbara Kronenberg got fed up with filmmaking after a string of depressing projects.
Encouraged by her wife along with family and friends to not give up, she tried working on a story that was different and more humorous than her usual fare – resulting in The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff. This 29-minute short helped Kronenberg, a former software developer, rediscover her passion for filmmaking. I arranged a conversation with Kronenberg, who was up for discussing a few topics, from the challenges of shooting goldfish to the definition of beauty and why everyone needs a funny bone.
So without further ado, here’s the woman behind this wildly enjoyable film about an eighth grader who is flunking Math, getting love lessons from a grotesque ballet teacher and only cares about landing her first kiss—on another girl. Grades be damned!
Madlab Post Asks: What is your favorite scene from The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff?
Barbara Kronenberg (BK): The one where Ella is sitting in front of the aquarium after everyone else left for holiday vacation. It has very subtle humor and people usually start laughing when they realize that Ella is wearing her swimming goggles as if she has made up her own holiday setting, which is of course not satisfying. Ella is just sitting there, observing the two goldfishes through her swimming goggles and it seems to be a very easy to shoot scene because there is no big action.
As you probably wouldn't imagine, the two fishes were not that easy to handle - they behaved like little divas. I tried to give compliments about their beautiful fish scale, I praised their skills as actors and we even bought them gourmet fish food, but they preferred to stay in the tank corners. Finally I told staff to fire them and to cast turtles instead of fishes. That was the key and they started to perform the choreography, which we trained on for about 3 or 4 weeks. So this very small scene took some more time then people are expecting.
What makes a woman beautiful?
I never felt attracted only because of a “perfect“ body, face or dressing; it’s always a mixture of charisma, behavior, attitude, brainpower and appearance. To me, beauty isn’t something that you can see, it’s something that you feel. – BK
Would you like to share the story behind your first kiss?
The only thing I can tell you is that I had to kiss a lot of boys before I found out that I prefer kissing girls. - BK
What is the best quality everyone should have?
I’d love to say it is humor because I think it makes life much easier and of course funnier, but there are maybe one or two things which are more important and could be helpful to save the future of humanity: honesty and tolerance. It’s ok to make mistakes as far as you admit them. It’s also ok to have a different opinion as far as you don’t force someone else to share your opinion or way of living. – BK
Kudos to Barbara Kronenberg for showing the world that perseverance pays off and it’s important to have fun when following your passion. Otherwise, what’s the point?!
Die Ballad Von Ella Plummhoff /The Ballad of Ella Plummhoff is a German language film with English subtitles playing Sunday, July 10, 2016 at the Caplan Theater - University of the Arts – 211 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia, PA. Showtime is 2:30PM. It is part of the qFlix Film Festival’s fun and fanciful “Damn Danielle” program, a collection of short films for everyone, with stories about family power struggles, revenge and the last laugh.
Share YOUR Comments!
What makes someone a good kisser? How supportive are YOUR loved ones in your chosen profession? If YOU had a pet turtle, what would you name it?
*Special thanks to Mike Nash for contributing to this piece. Images courtesy of Barbara Kronenberg.