Adelheid, Kornelius & the Deaths

Director: Kirstin Schmitt / 91 min. / 2018 / German (ST: English) / Germany, Spain

Two eccentric millionaires have been married for 53 years. Kornelius is the dominant one. Adelheid always goes along with everything without objection. Both lead an individualistic, ascetic and sustainable lifestyle and have a mutually symbiotic relationship. Kornelius’ cancer diagnosis abruptly brings home the fragility of life. From then on, Adelheid prepares herself for widowhood. She begins to emancipate herself and wants to become more independent, for she suspects that she will outlive her beloved husband.

Script & Direction: Kirstin Schmitt
Production: Maren Schmitt
Cinematography: Petra Lisson & Kirstin Schmitt
Editing: Evelyn Rack & Sven Kulik

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A bizarre millionaire couple lives in an endless summer, jetting between a small town and a Spanish sports hotel. They have a symbiotic relationship. He sets the tone and she goes along with everything. This changes when a cancer diagnosis reveals the fragility of life.

Kornelius is suspicious of undergoing chemotherapy for his prostate tumor. He prefers to concentrate on the beautiful things. Ignoring the issue and yet aware, they continue on as if nothing has happened. But beneath the surface, things are bubbling. While Kornelius takes a sober view of dying, Adelheid’s confrontation with death goes deeper. She now prepares herself pragmatically and with a dry sense of humour for widowhood, for she suspects that she will outlive her husband…

The long-time documentary in direct cinema style tells the story of these eccentric protagonists from 2011 to 2018. It’s a story of parting and the attempt to maintain happiness told through atmospheric images. With bittersweet lightness, the film makes the audience laugh and cry. It’s a moving documentary about dying that gives you the courage to live.

Adelheid und Kornelius Ihlefeld

Written and directed by Kirstin Schmitt
Camera: Petra Lisson & Kirstin Schmitt
Editing: Evelyn Rack & Sven Kulik
Sound: Felix Lau, Benedikt Ludwig, Sebastian Sánchez
Music: Dasha Dauenhauer
Production: Maren Schmitt (Sailor´s Yarn)
Graded by Sally Shamas
Dramaturgical advice: Evelyn Rack
Editing assistant: Marielle Pohlmann
Original sound recording: Nikolas Altmannsberger, Floyd Fürstenau, Ana Monte

Kirstin Schmitt is a director, cinematographer and photographer. She has lived and worked in Berlin and Havana since 2006. She studied cultural anthropology, directing and cinematography in Germany and Cuba. Her award-winning works have been presented internationally in museums, art fairs and film festivals.

Directed by Inga Bremer, documentary feature film, BR/ARTE, Germany/Spain.

Director: Elke Lehrenkraus, Dokumentarlangfilm, Germany

Director / 2nd camera / Production
diploma film, Documentary feature, Cuba

director / camera / production
experimental short film, 16mm, Cuba

director, production and editing
Documentary short film, Germany, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg

“I myself am very afraid of death – who isn’t?
In the face of having to die, we oscillate between integrity and despair. When we are young, the latter predominates. Being prepared to die one day is perhaps one of the greatest personal challenges we face. If you want to die in peace, you have to live and love in the right way. But how do you live in the right way with all the possibilities and social expectations with which modern life presents us?
The protagonists of the film do not complain. They live according to their own standards and are true to themselves. With their attitude, Adelheid and Kornelius take away some of the fear of death and teach us not to corrupt the time we have.

The documentary deals with self-determination, decisions, relationship dynamics and having to die. It does so in a poetic and humorous way. Humour and tragedy are very close to each other. Adelheid and Kornelius provide a lot of courage with their “slapstick humour”, which fearlessly does not stop even in the face of difficult topics. ”

“A film that moves, appeals to one’s humanity and will remain in the memory for a long time.”
(Jury Hessian Film Award)

Press review (PDF)

35. Kasseler Dok Fest

Nomination for the Hessian Film Award Category: Best Documentary Film