The model on the 1970s cardboard box of an inflatable hair-dryinghood looks a little shy; somehow not eager to be a model. This triggers filmmaker Susanne Helmer to start an experiment by guessing how this woman’s picture appeared on this hooddryer box and what kind of life she led. And then, after searching for the model, to compare these suspicions with the real lifestory.
The imaginary, suspected life -partly played by the filmmaker herself- is leading the documentary story and sometimes provides the film with a feeling of playing a game. The visual means to create both fiction and documentary are similar: family photographs, home-video’s and filmscenes, pictures of places, houses, rooms, streets; consequently intensifying the notion that not only in fiction but also in documentary the representation of reality and truth is very much constructed.
The result is a thoroughly made, humorous film about expectations, human life in general, a vanished past era and filmconstruction itself.

  • Susanne Helmer
  • Susanne Helmer
  • Shelmerfilm, SeriousFilm
  • Susanne Helmer
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 12 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 22, 2016
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, Germany
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    HD 1920 x 1080
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Netherlands Film Festival
    September 24, 2016
    Dutch premiere
  • Madrid Interntional Film festival
    July 13, 2017
  • Puff film festival
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    July 6, 2017
  • Perth Revelation film festival
    July 8, 2017
  • Kew Gardens Festival of cinema
    New York City
    United States
    August 13, 2017
  • Byron Bay filmfestival
    Byron Bay
    October 13, 2017
  • DOKLeipzig
    November 3, 2017
Distribution Information
  • Klik! distribution Amsterdam
    Country: Netherlands
Director Biography - Susanne Helmer

Susanne Helmer (1969) was born in Hamburg from a German mother and a Dutch father. She was raised in the Netherlands. During her studies of history of art she started working as a programmaker for Dutch radio and a few years later for Dutch public television. She started editing and filming herself, experimenting with lipsync technique and making several experimental short films that were never officially screened [ ]. She lives in Amsterdam, works as a field sound recordist for documentaries and documentary television. The feature length film Melanie is her debut.

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Director Statement

Melanie is a film I made because I wanted to combine several forms I had been experimenting with before, in one story: using lipsync technique (playback), chromakeying, and combining fiction and documentary. Moreover I felt the need to use an experimental and unpredictable way of creating a film/story.
Using dialogues from various moviescenes, then doing the acting myself by lipsyncing this found audio in a story I made up, I made sure that the fictitious scenes became something completely different than would I have written these dialogues myself. The acting is chromakeyed into pictures of 1970s interiors. By using this method the scenes become rather strange and absurd. All the characters and are played by myself, emphasizing that they originate from my personal imagination.
Thus the film consists of a private fantasy about a randomly chosen main character, plus a documentary about this same character. By means of the thoroughness of the execution of the whole concept of the film, however, I tried to lift everything above the personal and the arbitrary. To give the film the quality it needs; to be interesting in spite of its non-urgent subject. So that the viewer will join me in my quest and in enjoying the game the film plays.
I tried to reach the best quality possible within my budgetary limitations, which made it inevitable to do almost everything myself in this production. (scenario, production, camera, sound, editing). Research and post-production were funded by the Netherlands Film Fund.