BERLIN CALLING cinema release 2. 10. 2008. Reviews German Press.

Press Comments


Somehow the musician remainds, with his enforced timeout, of Van Gogh while painting in the asylum of Saint –Remy. But even if DJ Ickarus would paint sunflowers - his doctor would find this scary. It is not difficult to analyse Van Gogh – danger of suicide is the diagnose.
In our case the break down moves on , the companion moves in with her lesbian girlfriend .
Everybody drops him – even his record label. Only the tax office is loyal , they want 25 000 Euros.
In respect to the taste of music – nothing new there – you can have different opinions. How many emotions you can find in techno music doesn´t only surprise the doctor played by Corinna Harfouch. Hannes Stoehr´s Berlin Calling is a classical drama of a musician , as we can find it again and again in movie history , since movies like the „Jazz Singer“, the first movie with sound.
And still , this one is completely different-, than all the others´. Surely , it is the same old storyof the hunted, who loses all his footings , except for his inside , uncorruptible voice , expressed in tunes.
But is not even the Jazz as in “ The Man with the Golden Arm“ or the piano improvisation as in “Vier Minuten“ ( Four Minutes).
It is a style of music, even every layman believes to know about , it is made out of samplings, which means out of something existing. Paul Kalkbrenner´s wonderful soundtrack tells a different story. May be he is the most sentimental techno of all times , but this gives the movie a manifold , emotional structure.
And Kalkbrenner´s retracted acting evenly matches. Further , Rita Lengyel, the girlfriend, shouldn´t be overlooked. She is evenly trustworthy within her status of conserved girlishness.
The camera work of Andreas Daub supplies full colours, which is unusual for a story of illness, but he would have Van Gogh´s approval. And , as the late impressionist , he is not intimidated by a raising sun. You need heart to do so.
Berlin Calling is a movie you wonder why nobody has done it 10 years ago..
And than you are relieved nobody did.
It couldn´t have been better.


Hannes Stoehr is within the best meaning of the word – a storyteller.
One , to whom a thrilling story has got first priority- what the film maker intends to say comes pleasantly subliminal across.
After an excursion regarding the german – german existential orientation in “ Berlin is in Germany“ and the internationally spread episode drama “ One day in Europa “, we are now guided skillfully to an inside of the local club milieu.
And here authenticity is important.
The move doesn´t only owe this to the coherent places of action- screening took place at real clbs and at a real hospital with orange bins- but evenly to the outstanding cast , first and foremost Paul Kalkbrenner as Ickarus.
The techno star plays the main role with asthonishing intensity. By his side impresses Rita Lengyel as Mathilda.
Corinna Harfouch as the doctor and Araba Walton as a bouncer.
Very secretively Stoehr waves in several subjects, like the generation conflict of the Ravers with the 1968 generation, straight up to the search for spirituality.
Beautiful is the scene in hospital with all the other patients , clearly reminding of “One Flew over the Cockoo´s Nest“ And the music?- Is far away from the techno bumm –bumm cliche and is agreeable groovy.


A keen portait of a techno musician screened at orginal places of the club milieu in Berlin.
Drugs, love, lunacy – it is all there, in the third movie of Hannes Stoehr (Berlin is in Germany , One day in Europa) Techno musician Paul Kalkbrenner, who acts along side moviestars like Corinna Harfouch, gives his film debut as the musician Ickarus, who is trapped between a record production and the asylum.
Not just a movie for clubbers. Centre point and tying element is the mucic of Kalkbrenner, Already in the early scenes –while seeing him act and listening to him while the bass tunes set in after a couple of minutes – techno music is understood.


The music drama Berlin Calling describes in one unconspicuous scene the figuration of all desires and equally all sufferings of the techno culture and gets them to the point:
The psychologist Petra Paul (Corinna Harfouch) puts the headset of her patient on.
She can hear a quick beating of a scary dark bass tune , above ghostlightning scratching noises. First she looks frightend ,then the corners of her mouth move upwards.
It is the dance between derangement and joy, between the proverbial crash and uplift that makes electronical music and therefore – Berlin Calling- special.
The platform Stoehr chose is a lucky catch.
Techno is one of the few pop cultures hardly talked about in the music world- on the contrary to rock music (“Control “ 2007 , “The Doors“ 1990 ) or HipHop (“8Mile“ 2002, “Block Party“2005)
In addition ,the living feeling of authenticity which arises during the live scenes of regular parties at orginal places , distinguishes Berlin Calling from other genre related works.
Even tough the world of the asylum Ickarus ends up in with its obscure inhabitants ,like the LSD radiated India traveller Goa Gebhard ( Caspar Body ), is staged as a pathalogical parallel univers as oppressive as in “One Flew over the Cookoo´s Nest“, one leaves Berlin Calling at the end with the wonderful calm feeling that the border between madness and fun hasn´t got a straight line.
Just the same as after a good Techno Party.


Kalkbrenner explores in “Berlin Calling “ one possible different version of his real life and transfers a credibility he hasn´t got to act tediously. As one of the musicians who obviously have a talent for acting- it is not for no reason many rappers act in american thrillers- he doesn´t only offer a talent for non verbial communication but although a natural felling for rythm and timing.
As in his first movie “Berlin is in Germany“ Stoehr ties a documental educated feeling of Berlin`s attitude to life together with the drama of an existence feared to fail to a tragedy he keeps giving clear , almost funny moments. And as Paul Kalkbrenner is wearing dark sunglasses and a hood that is pulled deeply over the bold head while roaming the clubs of Berlin , flats , underground stations and streets , you easily believe the fragile balance between the agitated melancholia and the easy going posture


Even so the camera keeps focusing on the DJ and his beats as well as on the big “dancefloor“ there is more to it than just techno,drugs and clubs.
Berlin Calling describes universal subjects like art and freedom , lunacy and ecstasy , family and friendship. The soundtrack composed by Paul Kalkbrenner – except for one track by Sasha Funke-is pure emotional electronic music Join the club.


Every time when Berlin Calling takes a dive into the milieu, describes the buzzing and pounding in the allies of the clubs , the actions of a run down dealer ( outstanding :Rolf Peter Kahl) , the film shows all its power.


Stoehr traces the picture of a subculture which can still be considered examplarily since the most different people meet each other and enter – a sometimes not easy – dialogue.
Somehow they manage to cope with each other even though drugs , music, colour of skin , gender seperates them. That ´s the particular about the movie , which isn´t only validated for techno fans: it doesn´t matter if you are homo or heterosexuel , black or white , artistical or scientifical , normal or crazy, only one thing counts- the binding and vibration between humans , that- it doesn´t matter how different they are – is the most important thing in life.
The movie lives further more of snapshots of today´s Berlin , the club milieu ,the difficult music business , the allaged famousness and a lot more. Staged in a fast pace , with extremly funny dialogues and momentous humour , it still doesn´t forget the seriousness of the subject.


Berlin Calling is the successful portrait of an artist, of his milieu and the town Berlin. The story at the pulse of time is authentic. Even though the film doesn´t follow the traditional pattern of a biography of a musician the key elements are the same : the movie describes the love of a musician towards his music and the continious tightrope walk between creativity and lunacy..
Main actor Paul Kalkbrenner , who is a DJ in real life , makes a phenomenal debut as an actor. As convincing are Corinna Harfouch and Rita Lengyel as Mathilda.
Fazit: Berlin Calling is worth watching,. It is authentic , humorous and at the same time thrilling. The soundtrack is for the fans of electronic music , which was actually composed by Paul Kalkbrenner. , pure indulgency.


The life of Ickarus is told very dense , partly documentary.
The audience is taken on a journey through Berlin´s life in the milieu and Ickarus privat one. The film convinces in the first place by its incredible casting, starting withe the main actor , getting followed by all relevant female actors.


Movies about Berlin can be boring since they like to wallow in hollow milieu pathos. And if they describe on top the hip techno clubs you can only enjoy them as a fan or as a professional teenager. Both of these cliffs have been outmaneuvered by Hannes Stoehr
(Berlin is in Germany , One Day in Europe) .
His fictive portrait of a successfu electro music composer appears authentic. And this isn´t because of the obvious party scenes in Berlin´s nightclubs but for the interest the film creates for his main actor.
Acting instead of clubbing.


What´s left for Ickarus is his electronic dance music , which unfolds his hypnotic impact without drugs. Non – Techno –Fans experience this as well while joining the big rave or the scene on the roof of the asylum looking over Berlin.


Director Hannes Stoehr created with Berlin Calling a declaration of love to Berlin and to electronic music, which doesn´t leak any depth.Orginal clubs, as film locations, the ramshackle charme of the major city and the night life of Berlin shape the movie.
Even as an actor Kalkbrenner is a discovery .It is not just because he is able to turn the bottoms so professionally at the mix board , but although for fulfilling the role as the borderline DJ in an important – straightforward mindlessness manner.


An intoxicating Berlin movie made out of the stuff to become a hit.
The music composed by the main actor Paul Kalkbrenner is the marshmallow on top of the cinematic cream, which is a casual declaration of love to Berlin.
Attention: No earplugs necessary. Even the seniors will teeter full of relish to the sound of the music.


That Berlin Calling never becomes a moral anti-drug movie is based on the humorous way Stoehr describes the abyss of addiction and deprivation.As Ickarus makes a mess of joghurt and oats under the strong influence of drugs in a hotel lobby, it still appears despite the seriousness , very playful and anarchistic.
Stoehr traces the picture of a subculture which can still be considered examplarily since the most different people meet each other and enter – a sometimes not easy – dialogue.
Somehow they manage to cope with each other even though drugs , music, colour of skin , gender seperates them.That ´s the particular about the movie , which isn´t only validated for techno fans: it doesn´t matter if you are homo or heterosexuel , black or white , artistical or scientifical , normal or crazy, only one thing counts- the binding and vibration between humans , that- it doesn´t matter how different they are – is the most important thing in life.
The movie lives further of snapshots of today´s Berlin , the club milieu ,the difficult music business , the allaged famousness and a lot more.
Staged in a fast pace , with extremly funny dialogues and momentous humour , it still doesn´t forget the seriousness of the subject.


The movie manages to captivate you quickly and creates its own thrilling world.Even though it actually tells a very depressing story: the story of a drug adictated artist going astray.
Regardless of the dull subject Berlin Calling transfers a uplifting optimism; a prevailing mood based on the tunes.
Stoehr tries to draw a picture of a generation – or at least of a part of it. Ickarus is the description of a figure walking along the abyss but always ready for a surprise with his ingenuity.
Fazit: a exhilarating and complex generation portrait.

Kalkbrenner himself has been working for years as a member of the well known Berlin electro record label BPitch Control.
But Berlin Calling is not a documentation of the status quo of a club culture. The character DJ Ickarus , the setting of the club culture and the dramaturgical constellation of conflict of the drug related break down are a creative element in the first place , to trace a moral portrait of the urban thirty something in 2008.
And Kalkbrenner manages to subdue any comparison with his real character and the fictive figure.
Hannes Stoehr succeeded to create with Berlin Calling one of the few musical movies that emphasises authentically on a certain milieu.
It liberated itself of any embarrassments, - you normally have to look at as a viewer.
But with Kalkbrenner´s hymn-like melancolic score , Stoehr can hardly manage to suffer a credibility defeat.


Berlin Calling describes techno as a individual fate, Ickarus could equally be a blues – bard , the charateristic of technos as a society model got mainly eliminated .But the sensational Kalkbrenner track with the male choirus at the credits revives the whole rave . romance.


That Ickarus becomes a ping – pong ball ( of audio visual lightning, therapy attempts and advertising strategies ), that his tantrums are considered as attempts to gain back scope , selfdetermination and freedom, is so unconstrained transmitted by Paul Kalkbrenner , that ist is hard to believe that the main actor didn´t have any acting experience prior to the film.
Kalkbrenner is one of Germany´s most famous DJs and was only supposed to be an adviser , with his inside knowledge, for Stoehr.
In the course of the project he got the role as main actor and composed the egregious gripping electro music for the movie , partly made out of computer animated noises of a city.
The genisis of such tracks can be experienced in the movie as Ickarus records a doorsignal of the Berlin underground with his microfon and processes it at the computer as a melodie.
The ones who are listening can hear a lot of Berlin in this movie.


Kalkbrenner might have been spared the meanders of the movie but of course he could bear a lot of own experience in his role.
He met Hannes Stoehr , the director , four years ago, the musician remembers.
He had seen his movie Berlin is in Germany , equally the director knew and liked Kalkbrenner´s album “Self“ which had just come out.
With all its closeness to the milieu Berlin Calling is more than just a techno music movie.
You can observe this at the screenings, says Kalkbrenner. Whereever the movie was shown so far , the audience weren´t only 20 year old Ravers , but more so people in my age.
Kalkbrenner is 31 and most of the characters in the movie are way past 30.
It is no retro movie about the 1990 , but about people that got in contact with techno in the 1990 and just got older in the meantime, says Kalkbrenner.
That clearly refelxes reality of Berlin´s milieu: Techno became more mature , belives Kalkbrenner.


One subject Berlin Calling just discusses along the way is the generation conflict. As well as Ickarus´father , a protestant priest , as well as his therapist at the psychological asylum, Dr. Pertra Paul ( Corinna Harfouch) are not able to understand Martin´s lifestyle or his music.Father and therapist belong to the generation of 1968 , Martin on the contrary lives in the time after the liberation of social ties . Comments of Hannes Stoehr in an interview: „ I have tried to put the generation conflict on stage as I feel it.The generation Ickarus did profit from the 1968 , took over sexual openess, the culture of extase , the hedoism. In the contrary to the following generations of the 1968 , they are more ideolical distant, more individualistic and are confonted with a different global situation.“
The feeling of life for the generation Ickarus is the centre of Berlin Calling.It is about emptiness elpoing in moments of quietness while the rest of life is a constant journey.
The extrem description of the character of the DJ in the movie is reality- in a less dramatic way- for nearly every member of the Ickarus generation. : a theoretical amount of possibilities apply for loss of orientation and the implicitness for an individual lifestyle can transact to a form of egocentric.
Just the egoistical tenor , the protagonist in Berlin Calling adopts.
But even here Stoehr tries to avoid any moral denunciation of social circumstances , his movie wants to be a mirror of time, a portrait of now – and no social critique.
It seems to be that attitude ,that makes Berlin Calling so pliant and fresh.


Techno and Berlin is like Reggae and Kingston Town.
Paul Kalkbrenner knows the milieu since the earl days. The techno producer and actor explains the special history of the town,“ a reunification of two complete different parts , a few years of lawfree spaces in which you could organise illegal parties, and all other german towns are more expensive.“ You can see this in the movie that an artist who is not really ready yet can live there completely untroubled, Berlin is city number one. And if he wouldn´t come from Berlin , he would probably live there anyway.


Paul Kalkbrenner , the acting debutant, smashes so unscrupulous a record collection and suffers so authentical after the seperation of his big love that you have to ask , how“Techno“ do you have to be to play a character so convincingly.


Hannes Stoehr , the realist , within the german movie makers , highlights the music milieu together with techno DJ Paul Kalkbrenner exquisitly. One sentence of Mathilda´s girl friend ( Araba Walton) “Grow up“ knocks the nail on the haed.That´s another special feature of Hannes Stoehr . He doesn´t allow any minor actor to become a minor matter.
In his musical-time portrait ( all compositions are from Kalkbrenner) he lets the techno star and a 1968 professor collied with each other. They fight over liberal thoughts and physical work. Still Berlin Calling never points the moral finger , never shows one picture too many. Hannes Stoehr moved towards reality. Once more the screen is not just black , but reminds of Erich Kästner – who said: Who doesn´t see the beauty in things becomes evil,
who doesn´t see the badness in things will become stupid.
A great director.

The moments of departure ...feel just right, the movie is as explicit as the real night.

Friends of electro music will be satisfied with the soundtrack, composed by Kalkbrenner.
Kalkbrenner himself acts so natural and intensive , it is hard to believe.

A wonderful timeless underground movie.

........emotinal very intensive.Desire for electro music.
ULYSSES , HEFT 10/2008 the pulse of time.
VOYEUR , HEFT 10/2008

Hannes Stoehr ´s story of the rise and fall of a DJ is an impressive bit of cinema.Even more impressive since an equally authentic portrait of a techno artist never existed.
PLAYER , HEFT 10/2008

.....atmosphaerical dense....
convincing by authenticity

Between extasy and apparent unbearable simplicity lies the feeling of life of a generation.

Convinces by precise observation and funny dialogues

You can watch an authenctic club scene that is not treated like a novelty, but gets curiously explored with the camera and edgy characters.A dense , voiceful milieu painting.

A movie that catches the vibration of a generation precisely and sensible.The whole story appears unbelievable authentic , for one because of the fantastic Paul Kalkbrenner.

Unbothered and authentical acts Paul Kalkbrenner as Ickarus in this unlikely but emotionally drawn music portrait.

..catches vibrating impressions of the club milieu..

..exciting capital city portrait..

MDR artour 25.09.08

Press Comments from World Premiere at Locarno 2008

"Hannes Stoehr has achieved spectacularly what no director before him did: To capture the experience of the Berlin techno-nights. The audience in its theatre seats can live through a clubbing night full of music, hedonism and frenzy (...) Paul Kalkbrenner delivers a sensational debut as an actor."
Deutsche Welle - Kultur 21 (16.08.2008)

"BERLIN CALLING brings Locarno to a boil."
BZ Berlin (10.08.2008) by Michael Zöllner

"... Paul Kalkbrenner... this man is a natural, personifying the anti-hero casually and sensitively at the same time. Furthermore, the film draws its considerable appeal from the musik created by Paul Kalkbrenner. And when Kalkbrenner after the strong final applause peppered with many „bravos“ unpacked his equipment and invited to a dance, the audience was over the moon with excitement. Locarno may never have seen the like of it: Over 7000 people rocking and dancing on the Piazza Grande until long after midnight. This may have been the most magical quarter of an hour in the history of this picturesque place on the Lago Maggiore."
welt online (11.08.2008) by Peter Claus

"(...) Paul Kalkbrenner (...) personifies the anti-hero casually and sensitively at the same time."
Welt kompakt (11.8.08) by Peter Claus

"BERLIN CALLING is the first honest and candid film about a musical genre often arrogantly vilified by mainstream media."
Telerama Fr (17.08.2008) by Jérémie Couston

"Star DJ Paul Kalkbrenner makes a commendable thesping debut as Ickarus."
Variety, August 13, by Jay Weissberg

"Brilliant and heartbreaking... This fresco of modern art dives bravely into a human conflict, truthfully and heartrendingly." (10.08.2008) de Alexis Heraïef

"Kalkbrenner carries the entire film on his shoulders – with remarkable aplomb, if not brilliance."
Screen (11.08.2008) by Dan Fainaru

"A masterpiece in the rhythm of Beat and Electro“ and „A brilliant frenzy of a film, with the famous German DJ Paul Kalkbrenner in the leading role."
Aachener Zeitung / Aachener Nachrichten (11.08.08) by Günther Jekubzik

"Those who have never understood the fascination of Techno will regard Techno music and maybe even the party culture much more kindly."
Volksblatt - Die Tageszeitung für Liechtenstein

"It was much easier for German Megastar DJ Paul Kalkbrenner, who played the part of a lifetime in Hannes Stöhr's BERLIN CALLING, a techno-juggernaut of the first water. He lives through a drug-related crisis and runs riot among the clichés of the detox movies. As an aftershow event, Kalkbrenner in person spun a few numbers on the Piazza, with everyone in high spirits."
Süddeutsche Zeitung (14.08.2008) by Fritz Göttler

"BERLIN CALLING, or: Sex, drugs and Electro-Beats."

"Germany celebrated its greatest successes with the audience in the out-of-contest films BERLIN CALLING by Hannes Stöhr and „Nordwand“ by Phillip Stölzl.."
Tagesspiegel (17.08.2008)

"BERLIN CALLING delivers a portrait, a fiction, that stabs us as if with an index finger. Berlin DJ and electronics producer Martin Karow, alias Ickarus, the protagonist, is a fictitious character, cast with the real Kalkbrenner, but the ups and downs Ickarus has to go through are like a photograph stealing the daylight. Authentical! Kudos to Hannes Stöhr! After „Berlin is in Germany“ or „One Day in Europe“, feliticious arthouse filming!" (09.08.2008)

"Ickarus crashes into the cuckoo's nest. Once again, the open air cinema on the Piazza Grande proves to be Locarno's trump card. And it's not just the incomparable atmosphere and the mountain scenery. In BERLIN CALLING the brilliantly represented flight of fancy with subsequent crash of Berlin Techno-DJ Ickarus demonstrates that the Piazza with its giant screen also offers a magnificent sound. A masterpiece in the rhythm of Beat and Electro, the Film by Hannes Stöhr (...) The intoxication, the nights and days spent dancing endlessly, the change in personality from substance abuse – all that makes us live through BERLIN CALLING believably and authentically. An ingenious frenzy of a film, with famous German DJ Paul Kalkbrenner in the leading role."