Mina Avramova is new managing director of Fortune Cookie

Mina Avramova is now in charge of Fortune Cookie. Most recently, she oversaw the projects “CULPA” and “Der letzter Wille” (“The Last Will”) as producer. As a new partner and executive producer she supports Ulrike Grote. She succeeds Ilona Schultz, who continues to support Fortune Cookie as a freelance producer.

Double Success for Ulrike Grote and “Culpa”

Ulrike Grote’s impro drama “Culpa” was acclaimed “Best Narrative Feature” at the 45th annual Atlanta Film Festival. The jury of the festival was “wholly impressed by not only the film itself, but the way it was made. CULPA is a well rounded work and stood out amongst a very VERY strong field of competing films.” So far the opinion of the jury.

At the same time Ulrike Grote won “Best Director” at the L.A. Festival of Cinema.

“Culpa” is an improvisational drama about a couple who have to learn to deal with a heavy loss, was created in just a few days and was shot with a small team. We are pleased that this genre experiment is receiving this international recognition.

“The Last Will” on Netflix now

The comedy series “The Last Will” will be streamed on Netflix from this Thursday (April 15, 2021) on.
When a benefactor’s niece inherits a retirement home and wants to sell it, she made the bill without the eccentric residents and the rebellious staff. For all fans of “The Church Stays in the Village” there is a reunion with the illustrious ensemble. Ulrike Grote wrote the scripts and directed the series.

“Culpa” on US Festival Tour

Ulrike Grote’s film “Culpa” is invited to further US festivals. “Culpa” is nominated for “Best Film” and Ulrike Grote as “Best Director” at the “L.A. Festival of Cinema”. “Culpa” is also going to be screened at the “Atlanta Film Festival”.
“Culpa” is an improvisational drama, played by Janna Striebeck and Joachim Raaf. It tells the story of a couple, who has to learn to deal with a heavy loss. The film, which was realized as a low budget movie, has already won several awards at the “New York International Film Awards”.

“Culpa” screened at the “Big Apple Film Festival”

Ulrike Grote’s improvisational drama “Culpa” will be available online from 13th to 15th November. The film was selected for the fall edition of the “Big Apple Film Festival” and can be streamed at the following link:


The film about a couple at the crossroads of their relationship after a stroke of fate won numerous awards at the International Film Festival in New York.

Don’t miss!

“The Last Will” – Broadcast starts in October

Ella would like to sell the ailing and underfunded “Villa September” retirement home, which she inherited from her aunt, immediately. However, a clause in the will thwarts the plan: only when none of the inhabitants live in the villa anymore, the magnificent property is allowed on the market. Unlucky for Ella. For none of the elderly and rather stubborn inhabitants wants to move out. The more determined Ellla works on the expulsion of the elderly, the more the resistance among the elderly is stirred up. And the staff doesn’t play along as well. Soon there are no limits to ingenuity on all sides in the struggle to walk or stay.
Those who enjoyed the intrigues of the villagers of “The church stays in the village” can look forward to the ensemble in new roles. Director Ulrike Grote, who has written all the books in the six-part series, is responsible for the black humour and the turbulent twists and turns.

Broadcast date: 2.Oct., 3.Oct. and 4.Oct. 2020 as a double episode, 8:15 p.m. on SWR television. From 25Th Sept. online in ARD Mediathek

CULPA wins in New York

“Culpa” was named “Film of the Month” at the New York International Film Festival, where it won several awards. We are happy for Ulrike Grote, who received the award for Best Director for a feature film, and about the “Honorable Mention” for our acting duo Janna Striebeck and Joachim Raaf,
“Culpa,” an improvisational drama about a couple who have to learn to deal with a heavy loss, was created in just a few days and was shot with a small team. We are pleased that this genre experiment is receiving this international recognition.

Open Letter in Memoriam Rutger Hauer

To our Dear Friend Rutger,
Sadly, exactly one year ago today, you left us. Your spirit, love, directness, courage, joyful laughter, and curiosity for everything that came your way are sorely missed. The film “Glowing Seas,” which we worked on together, will no longer make its way to the big screen, for no other actor can, or ever will, replace you.
We miss you dearly!
Your Fortunecookies,

Ulrike, Ilona, Mina


In the improvisational drama CULPA, a couple is at a crossroads – if they want to stay together, they have to learn to live with a heavy loss. Ulrike Grote shot the drama in just a few days with a very small team with the actors Janna Striebeck and .Joachim Raaf in France and Spain.

Fortune Cookie reads

Thanks to Corona, there are now many great readings online. We have bundled some of them on a platform. The offer is aimed at all ages. Poems, songs and fairy tales are performed here. Everyone can participate. The only condition is that the authors of the works must be dead for more than 70 years. Incentive enough to lift old treasures. For example, actor Christian Pätzold reads from the novel “Tevye the Milkman”, which was the literary template for the musical “Anatevka”. Enjoy browsing and discovering!


FairFilmAward 2020 goes to Fortune Cookie

Dear Team Before and Behind the Scenes,
We won it! The FairFilmAward 2020 is ours – thanks to all of you! This
prize means a lot to us, as it promotes – among other important issues
– fair working condition.
We won it because you voted for us. We feel honoured and very happy
about it. Without all of you, there would be neither the prize nor the
new series “THE LAST WILL”. Thank you all for your support, for your
commitment and your votes. We hope to see you again soon on the next

Copyright Foto: Alena Sternberg

THE LAST WILL nominated for the “Fair Film Award”

For the second time in a row “Fortune Cookie” film production is nominated for the “Fair Film Award”. This time our series “The Last Will” is competing for the award. The filmmakers dedicate the prize to helping establish fair working conditions in the film making industry. The ceremony will take place during the International Berlin Film Festival in February. “Fortune Cookie” thanks all supporters for the nomination!


A retirement home populated by headstrong and unconventional individuals, mutinous staff members and a new management with altogether different plans. That’s the set up for a new comedy show for SWR by Ulrike Grote. Shooting will continue up to mid-July for six episodes of “Der letzte Wille”. With Swabian puns and a quirky sense of humor, Ulrike Grote takes an affectionate but merciless and unsparing look at the last years of life.
Among this large ensemble are Janna and Jochen Striebeck, Karoline Eichhorn, Sabine Hahn, Katharina Matz, Franziska Küpferle, Hannah Walther, Joachim Raaf, Christian Pätzold, Willem Menne, Jürgen Haug, Christian Koerner, Nicki von Tempelhoff, Eugene Boateng and Gosia Konieczna. We are already familiar with quite a few of the actors from “Die Kirche bleibt im Dorf”.
A broadcasting date has not yet been announced.

Fortune Cookie nominated for “FilmFairAward 2018”

Once again Fortune Cookie is nominated as one of the fairest film productions for the “FilmFairAward 2018” with its series “The Church Stays in the Village”. In 2014 we have already won the award that helps to establish fair working conditions in the film making industry. The “Filmmakers” dedicate the prize in the name of 26 associations and the union ver.di. The ceremony takes place during the International Berlin Film Festival in February. Fortune Cookie thanks all supporters for the nomination!

Swabian Black Humor Is Back In Time For Christmas

The final season of the comedy series Die Kirche bleibt im Dorf – filmed in Swabian patois – heats up and offers some black humor for the Christmas holiday season. The public broadcaster SWR is airing six new episodes as double features on 25 and 26 December as well as on 1 January, beginning at 9:45 PM.
One year has passed …
… since the last season ended. Circumstances in Upper and Lower Rieslingen are as convoluted as ever: The parsonage is brimming with Rossbauer and Häberle family members. Maria did in fact get married and is now unhappily wed to Heinz, who managed to wrangle half a castle from Gottfried Häberle during a boozy wedding-eve party. He is showing his true colors now: He bellows orders, shows bullying behavior and makes others do his work for him. Alas, nothing is as unifying as a common enemy. Both the Rossbauers and the Häberles agree that Heinz must go!
Ulrike Grote, director and screen writer, once again assembled the familiar ensemble for the final episodes of her series.


The wait is almost over: The grand season finale of our series Die Kirche bleibt im Dorf is on the horizon. Beginning in the summer of 2017, Ulrike Grote – the director and scriptwriter – will begin shooting the last six episodes of this Swabian family saga. The familiar faces from the first two seasons will once again be part of the action. And one thing for sure: The quarrels of the folks from Upper and Lower Rieslingen will end in a big bang.

DVD Release: “Tadaah- The Church Stays in the Village”

The Swabian road movie “Tadaah – The Church Stays in the Village” is out now on DVD.

More Prizes for STELLA

Following the “Dragon Award” and the “Crystal Bear” the film STELLA received the Price of the city of Goetenborg of the Filmfestival. Director Sanna Lenken took the prize during the opening of the festival end of January. Congratulations tp producer Annika Rogell an the entire team of “Stella”!


Twelve-year-old Stella is in the middle of puberty. She’s unsure of herself, indulges in day dreams and also happens to be in love. With Jacob, her big sister Katja’s figure skating coach. Katja is a talented skater – but with a serious problem. She’s anorexic. Upon finding out about this secret, Stella is blackmailed by Katja who threatens to tell Jacob about her sister’s crush on him if she reveals this secret to anyone.
Told with an engaging lightness of touch but without sentimentality, My Skinny Sister is a story about coming-of-age and expanding one’s mental and emotional boundaries.
This film picked up a Glass Bear at the Berlinale and won the audience award for “Best Nordic Film” at the Göteborg Film Festival.

“Tadaah” is coming to movie theaters in June

At long last, the sequel to the Swabian saga “The church stays in the village” is now scheduled for release in movie theaters on 25 June 2015. In “Tadaah”, the perpetually feuding villagers from Upper and Lower Rieslingen leave the Swabian backwaters and head North to Hamburg. This is where they will take part in a band competition.
Their plan is to use the cash prize to repair the roof of the jointly used church, which had collapsed upon the flock during a church service. Indeed, even though they all diligently donated money to preserve their place of worship, the church’s coffers are verging on empty. Now they need some good advice! In this scenario, taking part in a contest doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Nevertheless, it takes a while to merge two church bands into one that can strike the right chords! And then there’s the long adventurous trip up North…
The cast of this Swabian road movie includes, among many others, Natalia Wörner, Karoline Eichhorn, Julia Nachtmann, Christian Pätzold, Ulrich Gebauer, Franziska Küpferle, Hans Löw, Rainer Piwek and Stephan Schad. Once again, Ulrike Grote wrote the screenplay and also directed the movie.
Täteretää will be released to movie theater audiences by Camino Filmverleih.

“Crystal Bear” for “My Skinny Sister”

Following the great success at the Goeteborg International Film Festival “My Skinny Sister” won again the prize for Best Film now at the Berlin Film Festival this Year plus a “Special Mention” by the International Jury. The story about Stella and her sister Katja, who suffers from Anorexia, won the hearts of the Children’s Jury: “The film’s unique perspective, stunning performances and challenging theme really touched our hearts.”
Fortune Cookie co-produced the film.
Congratulations to Sanna Lenken, executive Producer Annika Rogell and the team!


The film about two sisters shows what happens when parents are preoccupied with their own projects and what happens when the older sister Katja, who suffers from Anorexia, feels worse and worse—all seen through the eyes of the younger sister Stella.

„My Skinny Sister“ is Fortune Cookie’s first co-production.


Fortune Cookie’s first Scandinavian co-production Stella – My Skinny Sister will screen as a world premiere at the Göteborg Film Festival in April. Moreover, this drama about a 12-year-old girl and her anorexic sister has also been nominated for the “Dragon Award” as best Nordic feature film. The annual Göteborg International Film Festival is among Scandinavia’s most important film events.
The film will be shown as part of the Berlinale in the category “Generation Kplus” on 8.2. at 1 pm.
A release date for film theatres has not yet been determined.


The citizens of Upper and Lower Rieslingen have been feuding since the Middle Ages and, in the meantime, they have pretty much forgotten why. Unfortunately, in one of the villages they are forced to share a cemetery, while they must share their church in the other. Klara Häberle and Peter Rossbauer, who are madly in love, suffer this most in this situation. If she weren’t an Upper Riesling “tart” and he weren’t a pig farmer from Lower Rieslingen, they would have married long ago. The tense situation in the Swabian backwoods escalates when a foreign investor decides to buy the church and the citizens of Upper Rieslingen plan on pocketing the proceeds for themselves. Now these two lovers face the same fate already suffered by Romeo and Julia.
“Die Kirche bleibt im Dorf” was an unexpected hit at film theatres in the Summer of 2012 and will now be aired as a Free TV Premiere by public broadcaster ARD as part of their “film Wednesday”.

Airing date: ARD, Wednesday, 28.1. 2015, 8:15 pm
Re-run: ARD, Thursday, 29.1. 2015, 0:20 am


Half a year has passed in Upper and Lower Rieslingen since the Häberles’ and Rossbauers’ dark family secrets were revealed. Christine Rossbauer who, as it turns out, is actually the daughter of Gottfried Häberle, has drawn the consequences and moved out from her mother’s place and in with her new father. In return, Gottried has repudiated his mother Grandma Anni whom he blames for not letting him marry the great love of his youth and having his child grow up with Ludwig Rossbauer.

While Grandma Anni does in fact find shelter at the Rossbauer’s pig farm, cohabitation with Elisabeth proves to be less than harmonious. And, caught between two stools, the pastor can’t please one party without disgruntling the other. Thus continues the feud between these stubborn Swabian villagers – in Swabian dialect and with lots of black humor. Watch Season 2 on Mondays at 20.15 as part of SWR’s Christmas program.


Recently, the final scene for the sequel to the feature film “Tadaah – The Church Stays in the Village 2” was wrapped up at the Hachberg stronghold in Emmedingen. After 37 days of filming, an exciting journey for the cast of characters from Upper and Lower Rieslingen ends here with an enthralling musical finale. Jörn Kux, who was already responsible for the soundtrack for Part 1, once again wrote the music. The various songs, composed specifically for the film, were rehearsed with the ensemble before shooting began. Now fans will not only be able to once again delight in seeing the actors and enjoying a fast-paced story with lots of black humor, they can also look forward to some real musical treats. Post-production will last until May, 2015 and the finished film is expected to be in the theaters in June of 2015. Distributor: Camino Filmverleih


There’s no peace in sight for the villagers of Upper- and Lower Rieslingen: The shooting of scenes for the second part of season two of this Swabian comedy series started in Ingersheim on September 16th. Once again, Ulrike Grote served as director as well as co-wrote the scripts with Sören Hüper (episodes 19 – 23) and Elke Schuch (episode 24). Also on board are the actors Christian Pätzold, Karoline Eichhorn, Rainer Piwek, Sabine Hahn, Franziska Küpferle, Meike Kircher, Elena Jesse, Jürgen Haug, Tilbert Strahl-Schäfer, Christian Koerner, Janna Striebeck, April Hailer, Reinhold Ohngemach, Hartmut Volle, Frank Stöckle and Joachim Raaf. Fortune Cookie Filmproduction GmbH produced the series for the public broadcasting channel SWR; editors are Margret Schepers and Thomas Martin, while Ilona Schultz is the executive producer.

Following the shooting of the first six episodes of season two during the winter, the filming of the summer episodes began just recently. The two families, the Rossbauers and the Häberles, are subjected to major upheaval: new alliances are forged and old enemies are at the root of lots of dubious action. After young Klara, Grandma Anni now also comes up with a shady business idea; ghost “Ludwig” still can’t float but, in the meantime, once again feels very attracted to his still living widow while the priest gets more involved in the intrigues of his harmless little parishioners than is good for him. And, as if this wasn’t enough, a wedding takes place but one can seriously doubt that the right couple has come together to tie the knot. In any case, “The Church Stays in the Village” remains staunchly and adamantly Swabian with lots of black humour.

The first half-hour episodes of season two will be broadcast as a double feature as part of SWR’s Christmas programming, on Mondays starting on December 8th.


On 9 June, the first take of „My Skinny Sister“ was shot in Mölndal. The story about 12-year-old Stella and her anorexic sister is Fortune Cookie’s first co-production. The Swedish team around the author and director Sanna Lenken and the Executive producer Annika Rogell has taken the Hamburg-based cameraman Moritz Schultheiß and the German actor Maxim Nehmet on board. The project is funded by Swedish television, the Swedish film institute, Media i Väst, and by Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig Holstein, and the channels ZDF / ARTE.

“Tadaah” – The Church Stays In The Village 2

On June 11th started the shooting for the 2nd part of the Swabian movie saga “The Church Stays in the Village”. This time the quarrelsome Upper- and Lower Rieslingers have to lay down their arms to set up a joint brass band in order to save their church. For this purpose, the protagonists set out from the Swabian province to travel to Hamburg, there the first take was shot.
Writer and director Ulrike Grote reunited the illustrious ensemble of the first part. Also on board are Natalia Wörner, Karoline Eichhorn, Julia Nachtmann, Christian Pätzold, Ulrich Gebauer, Hans Löw, Stephan Schad and many others. Since July the team will be shooting in Emmendingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg.

The production is funded by SWR / Degeto, the regional film funds of Hamburg and Baden-Württemberg, by FFA and DFFF , and by AMP – Aspekt Medienproduktion. Distributor: Camino Filmverleih AMP.

Start of shooting: Season 2 “The Church Stays in the Village“, TV Series

Shooting for season two of the Swabian comedy series “The Church Stays in the Village“ started at the beginning of February. The public TV channel SWR ordered twelve new episodes of the provincial farce. Once again the quarrels, love affairs, animosities and secrets of the hostile villages of Upper- and Lower Rieslinger will make the audience laugh and cry. The villagers have yet to come to peace – even though half a year has passed since the scandalous confessions were made at the church and Maria’s accident. Gottfried banned his treacherous mother from the castle. Since then, Grandma Anni lives with Elisabeth in Lower Rieslingen. This, of course, causes lots of trouble. Also, Ludwig returned to earth. Christine moved in with her natural father in Upper Rieslingen and refuses to sell the pond in order to save her mother’s pig farm. And Gottfried has the ingenious idea of having little Thaddäus declared dead to thus spare him from having to go to a foster home.

The stories of the first six episodes will be produced at the beginning of 2014. The stories are written by Ulrike Grote who is also responsible for directing. The last six episodes will be filmed in autumn 2014.

Fortune Cookie awarded for Fairness

During the Berlinale (International Film Festival in Berlin) Fortune Cookie was honoured with the special award “Starker Einsatz” (Strong Impact) by BFFS and ver.di Union as part of the “Schauspielerpreis” (actor’s award) presentation. The prize is awarded to persons who “despite the harsh conditions that prevail in the daily film production business uphold fairness, provide good working conditions, mediate in difficult times and are thus conducive to the success of the project”. For the first time, the writer and director Ulrike Grote and the executive producer Ilona Schultz were awarded this prize. The founders of Fortune Cookie Filmproduction GmbH received this prize for their work on the project – both the feature film and TV series – “The Church Stays in the Village”.


On 06 June 2012, shooting started for the debut film „Der Sieger in Dir“ („The Winner inside“), written and stage-directed by Jan Bolender. The film will be produced as part of the series „Die Stunde des Verbrechens“ („The Hour of Crime“) of the Kleines Fernsehspiels on ZDF television.

In a homeless person, Michael one day recognises his old school bully Niko. To overcome his trauma, he takes in the helpless man. Shortly after, however, the past catches up with Michael: he feels threatened by Niko and starts fighting back….

Cast: Christoph Tomanek, Janna Striebeck, Felix Knopp, Stephan Schad, Sarah Alles, Lena Liberta, Lennard Schulz, and more.


With approx. 500,000 viewers, Fortune Cookie and its movie “Die Kirche bleibt im Dorf“ landed THE surpise hit in the cinema summer of 2012.

Ulrike Grote’s ingredient for the success of her big screen debut was „laughing in Swabian“ –not about Swabians but with them. And the viewer’s appreciated it. And that’s how it’s meant to be, because this movie is made by Swabians for Swabians. Almost all actors come from Swabia – Natalia Wörner, Karoline Eichhorn, Julia Nachtmann, Christian Pätzold, Elisabeth Schwartz, Stephan Schad, Hans Löw, and Dominik (Dodokay) Kuhn. The director herself spent her childhood in Baden-Wuerttemberg. And so much regional identity and patriotism pays off: the romantic dialect Western about two villages, one church, three sisters and 5 million dollars went down very well with it audiences – even beyond Swabian borders!

Swabian Sense of Humour also Clicks with an International Audience

“The Church Stays in the Village” is nominated in the category “Best Comedy Series“ at the renowned International TV Festival of Monte Carlo. Along with US hit series like “Modern Family” or “30 Rock,” it takes part in the race for one of the “Golden Nymphs”. In total, 81 entries from Europe, Canada and the United States are competing for one of the much- coveted trophies, which prince Albert II of Monaco will present on June 13.


Starting 15 April 2013, Mondays at 20:15 and 20:45 hrs

After the surprising success of the movie, SWR viewers can now watch the story about the comical-dramatic events in a Swabian village life in the form of a series with 12 episodes, every Monday at 20:15 hrs and 20:45 hrs. From April, 15, the Häberles from Oberrieslingen and the Rossbauers from Unterrieslingen will be facing each other again. With a new cast, a new storyline, an obscure secret, lots of black humour, and the typical Swabian obstinacy.
A new priest is appointed to the parish: a North German „Daggel“ (dialect of Dachshound (diminuitiv)), who neither understands the local dialect nor the particular sense of humour of his new parish-lambs. “Paschtor Köschter” („Father Köschter“) fails to realise that the dying Rossbauer senior is trying to tell ihm how and why his family tried to poison him. Likewise, he doesn’t understand why the village beauty Maria Häberle refuses to reveal the name of her newborn son’s father. Instead, he has to read out a Swabian testament full of spitefullness, catches pot-smoking teenagers in his confessional box, and speeds through the vineyards on an old moped with his black cassock billowing behind him.


The very first western prank with dialect-showdown

Green meadows and blue sky in Swabia: the world should really be in the best of order in the two villages Oberrieslingen and Unterrieslingen. But it isn’t. Why not? Because the two hostile villages have had to share a church and a cemetery since the Middle Ages, causing anger and strife between them. At present, the situation is aggravated by the fact that there is a pothole in the only community road connecting Ober- and Unterrieslingen – right on the borderline between the villages. That is why neither the Ober- nor the Unterrieslinger feel responsible for repairing it. Indirectly, the pothole was responsible for the death of Oma Anni from Oberrieslingen who was riding along on her moped just a little too speedily.
Her funeral turns into a disaster and reignites the flames of animosity between the Ober- and Unterrieslingers.
This is especially hard to endure for Klara Häberle (Julia Nachtmann) and Peter Rossbauer (Hans Löw). They are deeply in love with each other and would already be long married if she wasn’t a Oberrieslinger chick and he a young Unterrieslinger pig farmer. So, they are at risk of suffering the same fate as Romeo and Julia. But Klara’s sisters Maria (Natalia Wörner) and Christine (Karoline Eichhorn) have one or two secrets which are at risk of revelation, too! But the prevention of private fulfilment is nought compared to the scandal that the Oberrieslingers are about to cause: they actually want to sell the church to a rich American – something the Unterrieslinger will certainly not allow to happen.

Whether and how the church will stay in the village is one of the subjects in Ulrike Grote’s film DIE KIRCHE BLEIBT IM DORF – released at German cinemas on 23 August.