GenreDrama Music directorNiki Reiser CountryGermany
Release dateSeptember 9, 2008 (2008-09-09) (Toronto International Film Festival) Based onAftermath
by Scott Campbell WriterCaroline Link (screenplay), Scott Campbell (novel) Initial releaseNovember 13, 2008 (Switzerland) CastKaroline Herfurth (Lili Richter), Corinna Harfouch (Eliane Richter), Josef Bierbichler (Max Hollander - Maler), Hanns Zischler (Dr. Thomas Richter), Cyril Sjöström (Alexander Richter), Mišel Matičević (Aldo) Similar moviesJosef Bierbichler appears in A Year Ago in Winter and The Farewell
A year ago in winter promo trailer
A Year Ago in Winter (German: Im Winter ein Jahr) is a 2008 German drama film directed by Caroline Link. It is based on the novel Aftermath by American author Scott Campbell, tellings the story of a "complicated family situation". The painting featured in the film was made by the Munich artist Florian Sussmayr. The film score is composed by Niki Reiser.
The film was premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, and its theatrical release was on 13 November 2008.
Karoline Herfurth as Lilli Richter
Josef Bierbichler as Max Hollander, painter
Corinna Harfouch as Eliane Richter
Hanns Zischler as Dr. Thomas Richter
Mišel Matičević as Aldo
Cyril Sjöström as Alexander Richter
Daniel Berini as Tom
Franz Dinda as Johannes
Karin Boyd as Renee Walters
Jacob Matschenz as Tobias Hollander
Inka Friedrich as Andrea
Hansa Czypionka as Stephan
Paula Kalenberg as Stella
The Munich-based interior designer, Eliane, commissions the painter, Max Hollander, to draw portraits of her children, Alexander and Lilly. Eliane wants it as a memorial of Alexander, who took his life about a year before. She provides pictures and videos of him for the painter. She wants Lilli to sit for a double portrait, but she is disgusted by the idea to have her dead brother on the wall "for decoration". Unlike her mother, she is not disciplined and loses her leading role at the Theatre Academy because of disputes with her teacher. She tries unsuccessfully to find closeness and intimacy in her relationship with the artist Aldo.
At the sessions with Max, Lilli is reserved at first whereas he seeks to look behind her facade and capture her character in the painting. He recognizes the profound relationship between the siblings and understands Lilli's realm of feelings better and better. Thereby he also is able to connect to the personal losses in his own history. The relationship between painter and model deepens, and they trust each other more and more.
The resulting portrait does not meet Eliane's expectations, but breaks her reservations regarding Lilly. She is able to begin to cope with the death of her son. Lilly accepts that she will not figure out the reason of her brother's suicide, and is then able to forgive him.
The film deals with the processing of a family catastrophy and the grief it causes. The story does not aim to resolve the mystery of the suicide, but concentrates on the development of Lilly, a process triggered by the painter. It does not show the typical affair between an artist and his model, but "eine behutsam in Halbschritten der Zuneigung erzählte Geschichte von tröstlicher Nähe, die beiden guttut" ("gently told, a history of half-steps of affection, of a comforting closeness that is good for both). The completed portrat captures the past, but on the other hands points to a future for which Lilly is ready now.
Caroline Herfurth was awarded with the Bavarian Film Award for "Beste Nachwuchsschauspielerin" (best upcoming actress), and the Preis der deutschen Filmkritik. The film was nominated for the Deutscher Filmpreis in the categories Bester Spielfilm (best feature), Bester Hauptdarsteller (best main actor) and Bester Schnitt (best editing). Film composer Niki Reiser was awarded the prize.