Sarah Mühlhause in Bild Zeitung
I. Rosendahl; M. Schacht
Do you know Sarah Mühlhause (26) from the Tempelhof district in Berlin? No? Well, if you were a Spaniard, you would have almost certainly replied with a "Claro – of course I do". The young Berlin-born actress is the latest movie star in Spain and now she is also conquering Germany! In July she will star in the film "Neander-Jin – The Return of the Neanderthal Man", to be shown during the next Berlin Film Festival.
I. Rosendahl; M. Schacht
The beautiful actress from Berlin, Sarah Mühlhause (27), is already a star in Spain and now she is also going to have the US public at her feet! "I am currently shooting for a German-American production", reveals Sarah. "Another couple of days in Cologne and then we will head to Los Angeles for a week. I am so excited!" Once Hollywood, always Hollywood? "Everybody dreams about it, but I think I will take a look first."
"Leevje" (sweetie) was the first word in the Cologne dialect that actress Sarah Mühlhause (27 years) learnt. No wonder, since this Berlin-based actress is a true "sweetie": nice, sexy and extremely charming. Right now she is shooting in Cologne for the film "Neander-Jin – The Return of the Neanderthal Man", to be presented during next year’s Berlin Film Festival. "The people of Cologne have welcomed me with close arms. The sense of humour of the locals is great – I feel completely at ease."
Express Teil Düsseldorf
Yesterday the young visitors to the Neanderthal Museum were enthusiastic witnesses of something out of the ordinary: suddenly a barefooted man with long, scruffy hair, beard and a loin cloth started chasing after them. But what seemed to be a real prehistoric man escaped from the display cabinet of the museum turned out to be an American actor! Jon Chardiet is currently starring in the movie "Neander-Jin – The Return of the Neanderthal Man".
By Cynthia Lechan Goodman
Some images resonate and remain with us. We want to see them over and again. Neander Jin, an award-winning film, has been connecting with people just like that. At its core, connections are a cave man and a self-directed, collegiate young woman of today. The film is mesmerizing, a thoughtful Beauty and the Beast, sci-fi, comedy of manners, political and social satire, that sticks with viewers young and old, leaving them talking, challenged, and laughing about Neander Jin. And that is because relationships and connection is only part of this unusual, multilevel, but balanced exploration of people, notoriety, seriousness, humor and passions.
To Florian Steinbiss, the psychology major turned filmmaker who wrote and produced this film, the audience reactions are so enthusiastic that he says it scares him.
Steinbiss reports that viewers often want to see the film more than once, and in some cases again and again, and they can't stop talking about it. They always discover something new. Some people already called it a cult movie." But Steinbiss, with total humility and incredulousness at this outcome, is still only experiencing the long creative path of the 15 years it took to make this film, and the elements of the 50 some years of life that brought him to this place of recognition with his first feature film. He is pleased that this German/American joint adventure film was made with the venerable Jeff Hixon, the co-writer and executive producer of the film.
How did this particular confluence of elements in Neander Jin come about? Probably it’s due to some predestination, the particular gifts and fascinations of Steinbiss, and both good fortune and good decision making in his procedures.
We have all been curious kids who roleplay wanting to be a Dora, Hannah Montana, astronaut or famous baseball player, just being someone else. From childhood, Florian Steinbiss wondered about the Neanderthal Man whose original cranium remains in the city actually named Neanderthal close to his birthplace in Bonn, Germany. The city and the bones tugged at his fancy, drew him there again and again throughout his childhood and school days to sit and spend time with "him". He recalls always questioning, "Where are we coming from? How was life in the early days? Who existed before us?" And he considered what might be a "common memory".
People may view primitive humans as the tabular Rasa, needing to evolve into all that we modern society have become. But looking at the Neanderthal and the amazing strengths and power that moved him through life, is a fascinating consideration as presented in Neander Jin, in which there is a look at those primitive urges that may rule our lives, even to the point of bringing truth and honesty to our lives.
Explained Steinbiss, "If we would not have tried to perceive truth and truthfulness at least at some point in the movie, we would have missed a unique opportunity and had done a lousy job. It would have been a misuse of great resources."
Germans Do Have a Sense of Humor
Never totally serious, Steinbiss features humor, and a unique comedy of the German people as he reveals, "My fellow countrymen and women are full of humor, which often is not a common perception abroad." And so Neander Jin has a raucous and riotous cast of characters including: precocious female college students, straight forward maintenance workers, patriot chiefs, two questionable professors, crazy doctors, hired guns, anthropologists, tabloid personnel, sensational TV, and the gamut of spoofs on satire, social criticism, silent movies, experimental film, the surreal and the absurd!
Humorous, entertaining, exhilarating, this film is filled with those magic moments, and more as each individual brings his or her own perspectives on humor to the film. Says Steinbiss, "Humor is either a point of view or a healthy reaction to the absurdity, hardships, and fun of life." His exploration of the relationships are both serious and comedic. Is the Neanderthal man the ideal woman's sweet sensitive man? Was he driven away by circumstances or social context? What was the real love and what is love and what exploitation? What is the purity and honesty of one's life and servicing of one's needs about? "Jeff Hixon and I had a good time writing the script and acting out all the different roles," comments Steinbiss.
Steinbiss wrote his first newspaper article at age 10 and it was satire. Satire and comedy is the way "to bear myself and continue living with myself with critical solidarity". And indeed, one might be reminded of the wonderful satires such as Jack Arnold's The Mouse that Roared or Kubrick's Dr Strangelove. Steinbiss however, keeps himself always busy following his own inclinations, only looking at several films for reference point styles. Favorites include Police Academy, Hanabi and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
Rules of Attraction
Not to be satisfied with social commentary and humor, Neander Jin toys with the surreal with the return of the Neanderthal man, much like the return of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, in amusing and serious ways. As Steinbiss explains, "What is the mutual attraction between the Neanderthal Man and the modern female student? How does everybody in the film use and misuse each other? How do different people react, the media, the general public? And what do their reactions reveal about them and society, and then, what's the reaction to their reaction?" Additionally, "Who is the real primitive, the returned caveman or the present Homo Sapiens?"
Allowing for these multi levels of relationships and subplots to blossom in the film required the insights of Steinbiss and Hixon to allow the characters space for this to develop and unfold. One such subplot sheds light on our present-day phenomena of the "creation and dismantling of stars by the media." Steinbiss describes his method of "having a closed eye on the characters and allowing more distance by x-ray point of view on current cultural phenomenon, social commentary, all becomes in the end one point of view." Even in his own small world, Steinbiss describes a related social phenomenon like this, "Sarah Muelhause, who portrays Barbara in Neander Jin, is the up and coming German actress with international potential. When we won the Indie's Best of Show, it was covered nationally by the BILD-Zeitung and Sarah and I were invited to the Golden Bear ceremony at the end of the recent Berlin Film Festival. The flashing lights on the red carpet were hers."
A Great Collaboration
Neander Jin was an idea that Steinbiss proposed to Jeff Hixon in January 1, 1996. Hixon's interest in European history, Steinbiss' interests in showing the world the beautiful Rhineland, the humor of German people, and the quirky idea of time travel, grew into a script that took years of development in Germany and America between the two men. When Hixon reported, "the quality is amazing, we can do it? Steinbiss bought a camera and computer with a final cut program and the real adventure began.
The script attracted very special and perfect professionals. British acting legends, American top actors, they plunged into it "changing vacations and lowering usual fees to be a part of it" Steinbiss reports. Then with careful processes of making a "simulation" movie to see what they had and adjust the script, Steinbiss "saw the characters really coming off the page with an exceptional cast" and upgraded everything, getting the best they could in specialists, sound, location, director, effects, and color.
In truth, viewers have a good time, they laugh, they are entertained, maybe overwhelmed by the multi level story telling and various genres and styles, which is a great thing. Steinbiss feels satisfied that his audiences are smart, "they don't have to leave their brain at the cash register while watching a comedy." And Neander Jin surely gives audiences a comedy with meat.
So what happens to Neander Jin now that it has just been finished? To begin with, it has won the coveted Indie for Best of Shows. "Audiences are sure to enjoy this movie" was the judgment of the Indie Fest. As a first time filmmaker, Florian recognizes the unique opportunity a non-traditional film festival such as the Indie Fest has afforded him. “Winning the Indie was a great experience”, says Steinbiss. “You can apply to nearly every festival in the world. Even some of the relative small ones get thousands of applications, and in the end a lot of festivals seem to be a closed shop. I was very happy to receive a prize like this. It is also good for the festival. It shows filmmakers that their work is carefully judged and that they have a good chance to win with an original and well-crafted film.”
Steinbiss plans to devote the next year and a half to showing and selling the movie worldwide in the traditional way. For him, things take time, and he's patient and willing to spend whatever time it takes. "There is no reason to rush," he explains. "The post production also took 1 1/2 years. I'll do festivals first, theatrical distribution, DVD BluRays, cable TV and the net at some point. It was a huge investment. We can't give it away for next to nothing right away."
But along with getting Neander Jin out to people who want it and should see it, he is already at work on his next films, including a sequel for Neander Jin which is, as Steinbiss put it, "Even more fun."
What does Steinbiss say to aspiring independent filmmakers? "Limit your locations and the number of actors. Write for locations that you can get and for actors you know and can afford. Don't write the dialogue too early. Put every scene on a card and get your three acts together. Write the dialogue at the very end. Rewrite as much as you can. Make a reading of the script with actors. Buy a camera and an editing program, if you can shoot real high definition on film rate. Later you can go to NTSC or PAL. Get a good sound guy. Be sure to be able to get the music rights before you put it in the film. Start your music research early. And, don't use your own money!"
To the audiences of Neander Jin, Steinbiss says, " [They] can enjoy the healing powers of the comedy, and talk afterwards about the film, life, or even better, love."
...the film ... at times resembles a pornographic film without the sex...
A time-traveling Neanderthal man (Jon Chardiet) suddenly appears in modern-day Germany where he befriends Barbara van Schmerling (Sarah Muehlhause), a 23-year-old environmental science student who allows him to seek refuge. They both become more than friends in the process. Meanwhile, two greedy, selfish, capitalistic individuals, namely, businessman Marc Armagnac (Milton Welsh) and anthropologist Jack Gallow (Jeff Hixon), have other plans in mind for the Neanderthal which involve getting rich by making him famous. Florian Steinbiss plays Barbara's dim-witted father.
Comparing Neander-Jin to Encino Man is essentially a cul-de-sac argument because those two films share only a few things in common. Other than that, it's like comparing a watermelon to an orangutan. Writer/director Florian Steinbiss and co-writer Jeff Hixon have made an outrageous, bizarre, screwball B-movie that never takes itself seriously and, in turn, feels quite diverting in a guilty pleasure sort of way.
No one goes to a B-movie expecting good acting or a brilliant, logical plot or characters who have depth for that matter. Instead, there's just a lot of anarchic, irreverent fun to be had, as long as you check your brain at the door and suspend a lot of your disbelief. Steinbiss makes the most out of the film's low budget--the special effects have their own charm. Moreover, he wisely ends the film after 81 minutes and maintains a fast pace with humor to be found in every scene. If the film were any longer, it would have overstayed its welcome. What do gummy bears and a mental institution have to do with the plot's shenanigans? You'll have to see Neander-Jin: Return of the Neanderthal Man to find the answer to that. Please be sure to stay through the end credits for an additional scene, a.k.a a stinger.
Hollywood glamour and cavemen along the Rhine river: thanks to his network of contacts in the movie world, director Florian Steinbiss brought, among others, the pair of English actors Rosalind Ayres and her husband Martin Jarvis – both known from "Titanic" – to the Dome city for the shooting of his movie "Neander-Jin – The Return of the Neanderthal Man". The movie starts with a Neanderthal Man, interpreted by Jon Chardiet, who plays with some pieces of rocks and somehow finds himself travelling forward in time and arriving near a water pump plant in modern-day Düsseldorf, Germany. Soon after we see him chased by Australian Media moguls and the two "bad boys" Milton Welsh and Manuel Struffolino. Only a passionate environmental student called Barbara (played by Sarah Mühlhause) will eventually protect him, providing him with shelter in her garden hut and even falling in love with him. The whole film is a satire about "media and the role of men and women", as explained by Mr. Steinbiss. The atmosphere on the set must have been very high-spirited – seeing that lead actress Sarah Mühlhause admits to having "voluntarily spent even the evenings off" with the crew.
How does the Neanderthal Man, played by US-actor Jon Chardiet, manage to return to the German valley where he comes from? It’s very simple, explains the film director: "If the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park can find their way to us, why shouldn’t the Neanderthal Man do so too?" The reason, according to him, is to be found in our great interest in our past and our ancestors. He adds that he had been dealing with the script for twelve years, but the idea was born even earlier than that. The Bonn-born film director explains to us that his parents were quite eccentric and would take him, as a child, to visit any museum they could find. This way, he could not avoid dealing with our past since an early age. The comedy is centred around bizarre situations arising from the encounter between the Iron Age man who communicates without words on one side and modern man with his greed for money and thirst for power on the other side. Any attempt to represent the Neanderthal Man as a monster armed with a club has quickly been averted by the museum staff, who have also provided the scientifically certified loin cloth he wears in the movie. Yesterday the director, Mr. Steinbiss promptly excused himself for the fact that the representation of the character in the film is not always completely respectful of historical facts: "We should never forget that in comedies the other characters are "overdressed" as well. The comment of Neander Jin himself?: "...Ugh."
Neue Rhein Zeitung Düsseldorf
The Neanderthal Man is back! At least in a movie that is. The shooting of the American film production "Neander-Jin – The Return of the Neanderthal Man" is currently under way in the areas of Erkrath, Mettmann and Düsseldorf, nearby the Valley of Neandertal. The crew even shot a scene at the local Neanderthal Museum. "The normal activities of the museum went on as usual", explains Jan Graefe, scientific counselor of the museum. Graefe also revealed: "The Neanderthal Man got his props at the museum".
For his international movie for the Cologne-based production company Constant Flow Production, director Florian Steinbiss chose authentic locations. The movie has been shot in exterior locations in the Neanderthal Valley, at the Neanderthal Museum, in Erkrath and in the city of Cologne. The studio scenes were taken in the recently founded Mausoleum Studios Cologne in Cologne-Mülheim. The 20 shooting days in Germany all took place in the North Rhine-Westphalia region. In addition, three scenes were shot in L.A.
"The film is a highly entertaining farce about the media buzz triggered by the return to his birthplace of the ancestor of mankind", declares Steinbiss. Of course this will lead to a "manhunt", to the attempt of selling and marketing the whole thing and, finally, to the birth of a love story. "Light and funny, but also a bit sharp and critical, the film promises great entertainment", adds Florian Steinbiss. ...The director, based in Cologne, is oriented towards the international market. The film is shot in English, the cast is composed of international actors and the main roles are played by US actor Jon Chardiet and German talent Sarah Mühlhause. ...Jon Chardiet started his career in 1984 with "Beat Street", a movie produced by Harry Belafonte, and has taken part in many American films and TV-serials starring alongside Charlie Sheen in "Money Talk" and with Rob Lowe in "One Hell of a Guy".
The cooperation with the Neanderthal museum works well for both sides. "We are happy that our suggestions have been accepted, so that the common clichés about the myth of the "wild man" could luckily be avoided", explains Dr. Jan Graefe, scientific counselor of the museum... The role of Neander-Jin is played by the US actor Jon Chardiet. Since his film figure is not able to speak (respectful of the historical evidence), in preparation for this role, for a long time the actor focused his attention on non-verbal behavior. During this time he even avoided speaking to his wife and children at home. The main actress is Sarah Mühlhause. She plays the environmental sociology student Barbara von Schmerling, who offers "Neander-Jin" a shelter in her garden hut and tries to protect him from public marketing manoeuvres. She shares with Jon the total devotion to her role, a process that requires thorough preparation. The actress also acquired confidence with her film character thanks to "method acting" techniques: she became a vegetarian and started to attend events organized by Amnesty International and Green Peace. "That gives you a completely different understanding of the role and a fully different awareness in dealing with society" confessed the 26-years-old actress.
"Up there we went on moving the hospital beds back and forth!" Florian Steinbiss is standing in the schoolyard of the Otto-Kühne-Schule and indicates with his finger towards the façade. Quite a while ago, in the Seventies, he used to walk through these corridors as a student of this institute himself (the students of this pedagogical institution are called "Pädaner"). Today he has come back to the "scene of the crime" – in the shoes of a film director. ...For this purpose, the long corridor on the first floor has been transformed by Mr. Steinbiss into a hospital. What exactly happens during the seven-minute sequence shot here will not be revealed by Mr. Steinbiss. He unveils as little as this: "someone is admitted into the place and then freed again. The fact that someone may go off the rails in this film should not surprise." Indeed, Neanderthalers do not come back every day. By the way, how is all this possible? "Well, by time travel", says Steinbiss laconically during a press conference that he had decided to move to the schoolyard shortly before it began. He is accompanied here by four young actors in good humour. Judging from their teasing and jokes, they appear to believe they are still on the set of this turbulent comedy. ...Meanwhile Milton Welsh loudly quotes the text decorating the front of the school building: "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom – Well, that is encouraging for a schoolboy, isn’t it?" But Florian Steinbiss is indebted towards his school not only for this reason: "My career as a journalist started here, at the age of ten. I wrote articles for the Pädant, the school newspaper". Later he studied Psychology. Is it useful for filming? "Sometimes it does help", says Mr. Steinbiss with a wink towards his actors, who are just engaged in improvising a love story. "There were sparks flying between us," joke Milton Welsh and Kirsten Hesse. "Thank you for letting me know only now!" – Struffolino pretends to be offended. Then we hear the school bell, young students flock to the schoolyard: "Breakdancing for all!" roars Milton Welsh in a gnarling voice. ...The opening sequence of the movie is set high above the Rhine river and depicts a sleazy deal between media sharks that is taking place here. For cabaret artist Norbert Alich, director Steinbiss has designed the tailored role of Otto Klein, director of a water plant. At one stage he is even allowed to sing an aria from the "Magic Flute".
Constant Flow Productions wins Best of Show Award for Neander Jin
While director Florian Steinbiss was approving the master print for the World premiere of Neander Jin – The Return of the Neanderthal Man the movie has already won its first award. Constant Flow Productions was awarded with the prestigious Best of Show award, which is the main award of The Indie Fest based in La Jolla, California. Only one feature film won in this category. The judgment was based on an almost finished work in progress screener of the movie.
Constant Flow Productions (Germany), Neander Jin – The Return of the Neanderthal Man, feature film, plays with different genres and styles, parodying a wide range of movies. It delivers a highly entertaining story that is joyful with absurd surprises. Audiences are sure to enjoy this movie.
When a Neanderthal Man mysteriously re-materializes in modern day Germany he seeks sanctuary and a safe harbor in the garden shed of Barbara van Schmerling, a 23-year-old student of environmental planning. She takes him under her wing in order to save ´the last living testimony of former humanity and naturalness´ from the corrupting influences of western civilization.
The Neanderthal Man is played by the American actor Jon Chardiet ("Beatstreet", "Money Talks"). Barbara van Schmerling is portrayed by the German rising star Sarah Muehlhause (Anna und die Liebe"), who received international acclaim in the Spanish box office hit "Fuga de cerebros".
In winning an Indie, Constant Flow Productions joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award. Thomas Baker, Ph.D., who chairs the Indie Fest, had this to say about the latest winners, "The Indie is not an easy award to win. Entries are received from around the world. The Indie helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptionally high quality of entries. The goal of the Indie is to help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.