‘A Heavy Heart’ Heralds a Helmer on the Rise

Thomas Stuber’s debut feature to premiere at TIFF

Thomas Stuber arrives at TIFF with just his debut feature, “A Heavy Heart” (“Herbert”), but the 34-year-old Leipzig native has been on the rise for some time now, winning accolades for his stark and gritty stories of social misfits.

He won a Student Academy Award and the German Short Film Award for 2011’s “Of Dogs and Horses,” about a destitute old man who wagers all the money he has in an effort to save the life of his beloved dog. He has also helmed a number of television projects and award-winning short films, including 2008’s “Teenage Angst,” which examined bullying and violence at an upscale boarding school.

“A Heavy Heart,” Stuber’s first feature-length theatrical film, centers on an aging boxer forced to come to terms with his physical decline after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Penned by Stuber and his writing partner Clemens Meyer and based on a story by Paul Salisbury, the picture gets its world premiere in Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema section. It is sold internationally by Picture Tree Intl.

There are parallels between the old man of “Of Dogs and Horses” and the boxer in “A Heavy Heart,” Stuber says. “They are both outsiders. Those are the protagonists, the stories, that interest me: people who live on the edge of society, people who have to fight for the small joys, or even for their lives.”

Popular on Variety

Stuber’s television projects include an upcoming installment of German pubcaster ARD’s hit crime drama movie series “Tatort.” He’s shot one TV movie and is shooting another for a different German pubcaster, ZDF.

Next year Stuber will begin his second feature film, “In den gaengen” (“In the Aisles”), a romantic drama set in a hypermarket on the outskirts of Leipzig. The screenplay for “In the Aisles,” co-written with Meyer, won this year’s €10,000 ($11,389) German Screenplay Award.

Stuber says while he tries to capture universal themes and stories in his films, the locations they inhabit tend to be in and around Leipzig, home town to both Stuber and Meyer.

“(He) and I both have a special view of the city,” says Stuber. “It’s not just the cityscape but also the people here.”



More Film

  • Parasite Movie

    'Parasite' Enjoys Record Box Office Boost After Oscar Wins

    Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” is reaping box office riches after its groundbreaking Oscar best picture win. The twisted South Korean thriller collected $5.5 million over the weekend, an exceptional 234% increase in ticket sales and the biggest post-Oscar boost for a best picture winner in the past decade. In the seven days since the Academy [...]

  • Nikita Pearl Waligwa

    Nikita Pearl Waligwa, Actor in Disney's 'Queen of Katwe,' Dies at 15

    Nikita Pearl Waligwa, an actor who appeared in Disney’s biographical drama “Queen of Katwe,” has died, according to BBC and the Ugandan newspaper Daily Monitor. She was 15. Waligwa had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2016 and seemed to recover a year later. However, in 2019, another tumor was found. “Queen of Katwe” [...]

  • James Marsden and Sonic (Ben Schwartz)

    'Sonic the Hedgehog' Dominates Box Office With Mighty $57 Million Debut

    Paramount’s family film “Sonic the Hedgehog” ignited over Presidents’ Day weekend with $57 million in North America and $100 million globally, the biggest showing ever for a video game adaptation. “Sonic” is expected to earn $68-70 million through Monday, one of the best results for the holiday weekend. The better-than-expected start is even more notable [...]

  • Shaun the sheep

    How '80s Sci-Fi Films Inspired 'Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon'

    Shaun, everyone’s favorite sheep, is back, and this time he’s facing aliens and robots in “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.” Directors Will Becher and Richard Phelan teamed together on this film for their first full-length collaboration. While the two have been working at Aardman Studios, Phelan’s background was as a story artist and Becher’s [...]

  • Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE

    Box Office: 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Speeding to $65 Million Opening Weekend

    “Sonic the Hedgehog” is speeding to a $65 million opening at the North American box office this President’s Day weekend, according to estimates. Paramount’s action-adventure, based on the Sega video game character, had been pegged to generate $40-45 million prior to its launch. Should estimates hold, it could break the $54 million record set last [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content