“Snow,” an Austrian-German co-production and one of 16 titles presented in the Berlinale Series Market Selects showcase, weaves the timely issue of climate change and local folklore into a suspenseful mystery drama set in the picturesque Austrian Alps.
Brigitte Hobmeier stars as Lucia, a physician who with her husband and children moves to the village, where she is replacing the local doctor, who is retiring. Things take a troubling turn when her daughter is visited by a strange woman at night.
The series presentation at the EFM event brings the title back to Berlin, where it came together in 2020 at the Berlinale Co-Production Market’s Co-Pro Series event.
Created by Michaela Taschek, the story deals with the impact of climate change and old secrets that come to light as Alpine glaciers melt. The series was developed early on by Taschek, late producer Ursula Wolschlager of Vienna-based Witcraft and filmmaker Barbara Albert, who initially planned to direct but eventually decided to take on a supervising role instead.
Gabriela Bacher later joined the project as executive producer and moved the project to her Vienna-based Primary Pictures following Wolschlager’s death in 2021.
“I was very grateful that Barbara was with me throughout the whole time,” Bacher told Variety.
Catalina Molina and Esther Rauch then joined the project as directors, with Albert staying on as a creative consultant “throughout the shoot and the post and the music and the grading.”
“I was lucky because I had two fabulous, very strong directors running this show.”
In addition to Taschek, two other writers, Kathrin Richter and Jürgen Schlagenhof, added and built on the original material for the final script.
Austrian pubcaster ORF was the first co-producer to board the project. “We have I think the best commissioning editor there that I know in the world. Her name is Katharina Schenk. She was basically our fearless leader.”
Bacher then welcomed X Filme’s Uwe Schott as well as Beta Film to handle world sales. Other broadcasting partners soon joined, including regional German outlets BR and NDR and German-Franco channel Arte.
Although set in a small alpine village in Austria, the series shot in Italy’s South Tyrol and Veneto regions with support from IDM South Tyrol-Alto Adige and the Veneto Film Commission. It was an ideal location, Bacher noted: “Scenery, landscape, tax credit and fabulous Italian crews.”
Albert was sorry to step down from the director’s chair after having worked on the story with Wolschlager and Taschek for such a long time, but had to due to conflicting projects, including the Sky series “Funeral for a Dog,” production of which took longer than expected due to the COVID-19 crisis, and a long-gestating film that finally came together, her upcoming period drama “Blind At Heart.”
“I had to decide – would I be able to be on set? Unfortunately I had to say I could not be on set to shoot but I was so involved in the project that it was very difficult for me, and I hope for the rest of the team, to say goodbye.”
Albert noted that she had known Wolschlager for a long time. “She worked on my first feature film 25 years ago. It was a long collaboration and friendship.”
Rauch was immediately interested in the series when she first heard about while sitting in the audience at the Berlin Co-Pro Series event. A Salzburg-native, Rauch had already been working on a story with mystical elements set in Salzburg’s Untersberg mountain. While she never finished that story, she brought some of its elements to “Snow,” particularly those revolving around ancient mountain goddesses and magical female figures.
The character of Lucia “reflects a lot of that without telling a fairytale. She gets her strength through accepting that there’s this huge strength of mythological women behind her.”
Praising Hobmeier’s creative contribution to her character’s development, Bacher said, “She’s such as strong and present actress in the most positive way.”
Hobmeier explained that she tends to “prepare a lot because I’m coming from theater. I love to work; I love to prepare; I love to take part in the creative process.”
“Snow” also stars Robert Stadlober, Maria Hofstätter, Marie-Luise Stockinger, Karl Fischer and Stipe Erceg.