Magic Moments of Music: Franco Zeffirelli’s La Bohème

Magic Moments of Music: Franco Zeffirelli’s La Bohème

Magic Moments of Music: Franco Zeffirelli's La Bohème

A film by Anaïs Spiro, ZDF/arte und UNITEL, 43 min.

This magic moment with music by Giacomo Puccini and artworks by Zeffirelli opens a window into the tender and melancholically intimate story of Mimì in bohemian Paris. The studio-made opera film was the first musical to be directed by Herbert von Karajan and was Franco Zeffirelli’s first opera film production. 

Zeffirelli’s production of La Bohème at La Scala in Milan was such a resounding success that Herbert von Karajan and Zeffirelli were compelled to turn it into an opera film. The soundtrack, featuring the choir and orchestra of the Milan Scala and the renowned ensemble of Mirella Freni, Gianni Raimondi, Rolando Panerai, Ivo Vinco, Gianni Maffeo, Adriana Martino, was recorded first. The stage was recreated in a film studio and the  production was shot in Technicolor – the best film technology available at the time.  The young Mirella Freni, who sang the role of Mimì for over 50 years, gained fame the world over, not least because of her natural and pure voice.

The screen adaptation of Puccini’s masterpiece of La Bohème was a bold attempt to marry the art of film with the opera stage. Zeffirelli’s staging and the film’s international success have made La Bohème one of the most-performed operas of all time. The original production has been revived again and again and is still performed today.

South African soprano Pretty Yende, who was a student of Mirella Freni and later sang in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of La Bohème, recounts her experiences with her mentor. As a very young tenor, Franco-Italian singer Roberto Alagna sang alongside Mirella Freni in the Zeffirelli production and is grateful to count himself among the great tenors, alongside Pavarotti and Carreras – thanks in large part to this performance of La Bohème.

Decarbonize: Can We Cool the Planet?

Decarbonize: Can We Cool the Planet?

Decarbonize: Can We Cool the Planet?

A Film by Marvin Entholt, 52min, 2023

Our planet is getting warmer – that’s clear. But how can we cool it down? Worldwide, research is being carried out into different ways of getting climate-damaging carbon dioxide under control. The film shows eight of these methods and has three leading minds in climate research evaluate them. One is the application of ground rock dust to our fields, which is currently being tested in Bavaria. Does the natural process of weathering really bind Co2 long-term? Direct air capturing is very promising: can the huge filter systems like those in Iceland extract enough gas from the air? Or is the reforestation of mangrove forests, which is being advanced in Bangladesh, the key to lowering the temperature? Or is it products made from algae, produced in a climate-friendly way, that will bring us a decisive step forward? Still others rely on pyrolysis, which binds greenhouse gases in biochar that end up as fertilizer on our soils or are mixed into concrete as a cement substitute. Can this help the climate-damaging construction sector to reduce CO2 emissions? Or is building with wood the key?

Each of these methods offers advantages, yet none is without its pitfalls. But which ones are promising, which ones are still too vague? Three climate researchers evaluate the methods for us: Prof. Jan Minx from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), the US American, Prof. Jennifer Wilcox from the US Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, and Prof. Julia Pongratz geoscientist at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.

“Decarbonize” is an inventory of the options that humanity currently has at its disposal to cool the climate. It clearly shows how urgent the need for action is and – it gives hope. We can still suceed.

In the Maze – The Musician Jörg Widmann

In the Maze – The Musician Jörg Widmann

In the Maze - The Musician Jörg Widmann

A film by Holger Preuße, 42 / 52min., BR/ARTE 2022

Music takes on a life of its own in the moment of writing, believes Jörg Widmann. It assumes its own form, becoming a living being that forges its own path. As such, it remains a fragment, because it is not what he, the writer, had intended.

For Widmann, the image that best describes this progression is a maze. Today, this has become the theme that runs through his life’s work, one that he has explored musically over the course of six distinct pieces. In the maze, one gets lost and bumps into things. There are moments “where it doesn’t go any further. And that is something that I often experience as problematic and very painful in composing. As happy as composing is.” Increasingly, he is led out of the maze of composing into which he has been drawn by his other role of clarinettist (for many years considered one of the world’s best) by his activities as a conductor.


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We follow Jörg Widmann into his maze, reaching for the thread that runs through his life and work. Together with him, we experience the ups and downs, the euphoric moments as well as the moments of crisis that are brought about by the process of writing. We encounter him backstage and on stage. And we discover that it is in fact a bundle of threads that intertwine to form a tangle, whereby the composer without the clarinettist, the conductor without the composer, or Jörg Widmann without the human, is inconceivable.

The film accompanies Jörg Widmann in the composition of his trumpet concerto “Towards Paradise (Labyrinth VI)”, commissioned by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We witness the piece take shape, from the first drafts to the premiere performance. As clarinettist and conductor, we see him at the Salzburg Festival, in the Boulez Hall and at the Konzerthaus Berlin, and experience this ‘universal musician’ alongside Daniel Barenboim (as pianist), with the celebrated violinist Anne Sophie Mutter, for whom he composed his String Quartet No. 6, and during a concert tour of Taiwan together with his sister, the violinist Carolin Widmann.

Paul Dessau – Paul Dessau  Let’s hope for the Best

Paul Dessau – Paul Dessau Let’s hope for the Best

Der Komponist Paul Dessau - Von Hamburg über Hollywood in die DDR

Ein Film von Anne-Kathrin Peitz, 53 min., NDR/ARTE 2023

Paul Dessau (1894-1979) has been a violin prodigy, became Otto Klemperer’s assistant and finally an accomplished conductor. He wrote operetta and film music – from mountain films with Leni Riefenstahl by director Arnold Fanck to Walt Disney’s animated films. Born in Hamburg, he was a soldier in World War I and a Jewish exile in France and the USA in WWII. In Hollywood, he meanwhile worked on a chicken farm and wrote the sounds for some celluloid blockbusters as an anonymous “music slave” for the major studios.

As a convinced communist, Paul Dessau settled over to the GDR in 1948. He worked with Bertolt Brecht as well as his fourth wife, the stage directing idol Ruth Berghaus, and had a significant influence on the socialist music scene and stage art. He became a music teacher for children at his son Maxim’s school in Zeuthen. His works were taught in schools, his “Thälmann-Kolonne” became soon very popular, but at the same time he was condemned as a formalist because of his often idiosyncratic tonal language. He became a GDR state composer who was mainly celebrated on the outside, but sharply criticized on the inside.

With over 430 works to his name, Paul Dessau has been what a workaholic is being called, with his explosive, often unwieldy sound language an inconvenient man who wanted to change society and help shape it: “Music is not a medium for relaxation. Absolutely not. There are pills or walking for that, which is cheaper. Music is really exhausting – to make and to listen to.”

Who has this man of conviction been, who truly fought for musical innovation and clung to the communist idea with almost naïve steadfastness? Who was this person whose appearance could be just as ornery and edgy, witty and contradictory, laconic or loving as his music?


“Paul Dessau: Let’s hope for the best” by Anne-Kathrin Peitz sketches an artist’s life between conformity and repulsion, political idealism and musical individuality, in which the changeable German-German history of the 20th century is strikingly condensed as if under a burning glass.

The film portrait consciously traces the contradictions in Dessau’s character, life and work and embeds the man and his music in the historical context. The cinematic approach to the protagonist and his sound cosmos becomes a jigsaw puzzle, both literally and figuratively, whose individual – often disparate – pieces slowly come together to form an overall picture.

In staged concert scenes, artists translate his sound into body language and tongue-in-cheek cartoons his song humoresques into associative picture stories. Musicians play in quarries, orchestral works become music clips, pupils of the “Paul Dessau” comprehensive school in Zeuthen walk in the footsteps of their namesake. Historical recordings evoke the world and stations of Dessau’s life, and the composer himself has his say in rarely shown archive scenes. In addition, interview partners – from politician Gregor Gysi to former concert hall director Frank Schneider or the American jazz composer Jack Cooper as well as composer and pianist Steffen Schleiermacher – try to create a portrait of Paul Dessau not only with words, but actually by doing a puzzle.



Dr. Stefan Pannen

Dr. Stefan Pannen

Dr. Stefan Pannen CEO

CEO berlin producers, heidefilm, neue artfilm, sounding images
Dr. Stefan Pannen

+49 30 44 03 169 – 19


Stefan Pannen studied in Munich and attended the German School of Journalism there. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, he helped build East German Broadcasting Brandenburg and made films as a freelance journalist and author for public and private television stations. In 1995 he founded his first production company. He is the director and author of over 100 documentaries and executive producer of more than 800 television films.

Since 2001 he has been producing the series “Zu Tisch” for arte, which is still in the program today. He developed numerous new materials in the fields of science, discovery and contemporary history. In 2009 he realized the film “Where is the wall?” as director and producer, which was sold in over 20 countries worldwide. He produced the documentary “Kinshasa Symphony”, which was nominated for the Grimme Award and the German film award LOLA and “#myescape” which won the Prix Europe for Best European Documentary in 2016.

Stefan mainly takes care of material development and marketing. He regularly visits major markets and trade shows in Europe and overseas.

He is a member of the German Film Academy and the European Film Academy as well as in the Alliance of German Producers.

As a founding member of the association DocImpact, Stefan is committed to distributing documentaries with developmental content in emerging markets.


Films as a Producer (Selection)

Douglas Sirk – Master of melodrama (52/78 min., ZDF/arte, SRG)
War of propaganda (90 min., WDR/ARTE, DW, HR)
Inside the labyrinth (52 min., BR/arte)
Mo and the others (6 x 30 min.; ZDF/3SAT)
Cook ´n live …  (13 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)

Adopted (3 x 25 min., WDR)
A polish nurse for grandma (43 min., SWR)
Witches, druids, new pagans (43 min., MDR/RBB)
Humboldt-Forum – A castle for Berlin and the world (43 / 52 min., RBB/arte)
The general and the electrician (43 min., WDR/ARTE)
Project BionTech (52 min., ZDF/ARTE, SRG)
„Cook ´n live … „ (13 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)

Baseball bat years (6 x 15 min. RBB / ZEIT online)
My corona Diary ( 5 x 15 / 90 min., RBB / ARTE / DW)
I had them all (Podcast, 5 x 12 min., DW)
Villages of the Alps ( 5 x 43 / 52 min., SWR/ARTE)
How Covid is dividing us (43 min., MDR/RBB)
Oil Promises (90 min., DW)
„Cook ´n live … „ (13 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)

“Bridges” (10×26 min./ 5×52 min./90 min.; arte GEIE, Co-Production with Freak TV, Edinburgh; Agent double, Bruxelles; LIC, Bejing)
“The Shah and the Ayatollah” (52 min., WDR/arte)
“Generation Greta” (43 min., ZDF/arte)
“Really psycho!” (5 x 26 min., RBB/arte)
“The rolling helpers of organ transplant” (30 min., SWR)
“My church, my family” (43 min., WDR)
„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
Plan B” (6 x 26 min. ZDF)

“The Marxists” (52 min., WDR/arte, SWR)
“Max von Baden – The last chancellor” (52 min., SWR)
“Garibaldi” (52 min., ZDF/arte, ORF, RAI 3 Alto Adige, Co-Production with pre TV, Vienna, funded by RTR Austria and IDM Alto Adige)
“The peacekeepers – How the 30 year war ended” (2×52 min. / 90 min., WDR/arte, Co-Production with Synergia Film, Prague and Agent double, Bruxelles; funded by Nordmedia)
“The Treasure: The Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz” (90 min. RBB/arte, Deutsche Welle, funded by DFFF)
“Now it´s my turn!” (43 min., SWR)
„Cook ´n live … (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
Plan B” (3 x 26 min. ZDF)

“#my escape” (90 min.; DW/WDR, Prix Europe as Best European Documentary 2017)
Marksmens Festival” (90 min., WDR)
“The last Tsarinas” (52 min.; MDR/arte, funded by MFG)
“The diplomat: Frank Walter Steinmeier” (43 min, RBB/ARD)
“Andreas Hofer” (52 min., ZDF/arte, ORF, RAI3 Alto Adige; Co-Production with pre TV, Vienna, funded by RTR Austria and IDM Alto Adige)
„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)

“The mystery of mountain herbs” (5×43 min., Servus TV, LIC China)
“Cuisine royale” (4×26 min., ZDF/arte)
“Fakt checker” (10×25 min., RTL)
Who takes care for Ma and Pa?” (43 min., SWR)
„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)

“Vita activa: Hannah Arendt” (90 min., WDR/arte, co-production with A&U Films, Israel and Intuitive Pictures, Canada)
“German Dynasties: Villeroy & Boch” (43 min., WDR / ARD)
“Save our animals!”  (43 min., SWR)
“Building up a Castle, part II” (43 min., RBB)
„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
“Cuisine royale” (4×26 min., ZDF/arte)
“Handmade” (5×30 min., RBB/arte)
Loop” (10×30 min.) // “Zipp” (10×15 min.) (AZ Media / RTL)

“Worldwide Berlin” (Crossmedia-Platform and 3hour theme evening, RBB, Deutsch Welle, funded by MBB; supported by Goethe-Institut)
Carnival!” (90 min., WDR, funded by Filmstiftung NRW, FFA and DFFF)
„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
“Cuisine royale” (2x26min., ZDF/arte)
“Country Dreams” (13×26 min., ZDF/arte, ZDF)
“Save our seeds” (43 min., SWR)
“Germans artists: Karl Lagerfeld” (43 min., SWR / ARD)
“Hot roads II” (5×43 min., LIC China, Servus TV; coproduction with Autentic)
Loop” (10×30 min.) // “Zipp” (10×15 min.) (AZ Media / RTL) 

„Conquest of the world. Secret Missions: Ferdinand Magellan und Sir Francis Drake“  (2×52 min., ZDF/arte, Co-Producion with Filmtank Berlin/Hamburg, funded by MEDIA+, Nordmedia, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein)
Who owns Berlin?” (90 min., ARD, Redaktion: SWR, NDR, RBB)
„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
Silver Workers” (30min., SWR)
Loop” (10×30 min.) // “Zipp” (10×15 min.) (AZ Media / RTL)

„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
“Country Dreams” (13×26 min., ZDF/arte, Servus TV)
“Our dirty water” (70 / 52 / 30 min., ZDF/arte, ZDF)
“Building up a Castle” (43 min., RBB)

„Cook ´n live … „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
“Country Dreams” (13×26 min., ZDF/arte, Servus TV)
“When parents get old …” (43 min., ARD)
“By the sea” (5×43 min., SWR/WDR/ARTE)
„No Meat“ (Theme Evening: 60 + 43 min., NDR/arte)

„Cook ´n live „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
„Country Dreams“ (5 x 43 min., ZDF/arte, Servus TV)
„My life: Ruth Dajan“ (43 min., ZDF/arte)
“Hot roads” (5×43 min., ZDF/arte, Servus TV)
Murray Perahia“ (52 min., RBB/arte, Co-Produktion with DOKFilm)
„Kinshasa Symphony“ (90 min., WDR/RBB, funded by MBB, MEDIA+, DFF, FFA)
„Old and dumb?“ (2×42 min., NDR/SWR)
„Airport ready for landing“ (6×30 min., RBB, 2010-2012)
Nightmare in dreamland“ (43 min., WDR)
„Oil in Ghana“ (2010- 2016; 52 min., funded by MEDIA+,)

„Cook ´n live „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
“Dial D for Discovery” (4×43 min, ZDF/arte)
„North Sea Coast“ (5×43 min., Radio Bremen/arte)
„Pankow Garden Plotters“ (!0x48 min., RBB/arte)
„Where is the wall?“ (87 min., ZDF/arte, MDR, RBB, WDR, ETB, Télé Québec, TV3, YLE)
„Living on 8mm“ (43 min., MDR)

„Cook ´n live „ (12 x 26 min., ZDF/arte)
„Life on the river“ (5×43 min., ZDF/arte)
„Pankow Garden Plotters“ (2×43 min., RBB / ARD)
„Part time workers – the new poor“ (60 min., MDR/arte)
„Love on 8 mm“ (70 min., MDR/arte)
„Christmas on 8mm“ (43 min., MDR)
„See mountains- Hidden secrets“ (43 min., Radio Bremen/arte)
„Islands: Sardegna“ (43 min., SWR/arte)
„My life: Gloria von Thurn und Taxis“ (52 min., ZDF/arte)

„Cook ´n live „ (10 x 26 min., ZDF/ arte)
„Uprise in the arctic sea“ (3 x 43 min., WDR/ RBB / arte)
„Welcome to Europe“ (90 min., ZDF/arte, Journalism Award of the European Parlament)
„Let´s keep it organic(52 min., ZDF/arte)
„Cleaning the sun deck“ (30 min., ZDF)
„Land without doctors“ (30 min., NDR)

„Cook ´n live“ (10 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„The shop.“ (10 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„The 4th Cataract“ (43 min., arte/ZDF)
„Argan Oil“ (43 min., arte/ZDF)
„37 Degrees: Dyscalulia –   I´m not dumb!“ (28 min., ZDF)
„Shoes for the soul“ (43 min., NDR)
„Child adoption“ (43 min., NDR)

„Cook ´n live“ (10 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„School Stories“ (6 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„Tsunami-Warners“ (43 min., arte/RBB)

„Cook ´n live“ (10 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„School Stories“ (6 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„Splendour of the earth“ (3 x 42 min., arte/ RBB)

„Cook ´n live“ (10 x à 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„School Stories“ (10 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„Job report – The first man on the building site“ (38 min.; Kabel 1)

„Cook ´n live…“  (12 x 26 min., arte/ZDF)
„Bath paradises“ (4 x 42 min., arte / ZDF)

„Cook ´n live“ (13 x 29 min., arte/ZDF)
„The best garlic under the sun (45 min., arte/ZDF)
„Beloved gangsters“ (Dokumentation für einen Themenabend, 72 min., arte/ZDF)
„When cranes travel“ (38 min.; Kabel 1)

„Mein Country, my love – European writers and her home“ (5×43 min., arte/ZDF)

„n-tv classic“ (30×30 min., n-tv)

„ntv books“  (20×30 min., n-tv)

„Classic Clips“ (6x 30 min., ORB)