Filmmaker Marianne Hettinger


  • Watch MANGO TANGO on Amazon Instant Video!!!
  • Quotes
  • Director's statement
  • MANGO TANGO: A Q&A with Filmmaker Marianne Hettinger
  • Screenings and Film Festivals
  • Press
  • How to buy the MANGO TANGO Collector's Edition DVD
  • Watch MANGO TANGO now on Amazon Instant Video!!!

    Marianne Hettinger's first feature, an award winning relationship comedy with dance about the absurd search for the ideal mate in the urban jungle won Best-of Festival Prizes at numerous film festivals in the US and Germany.

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    Director/ Writer: Marianne Hettinger (IMDb)
    Genre: Romantic Comedy
    Runtime: 98 min
    Tagline: All she ever wanted was to meet a nice guy…
    Languages: 95% English, 5% German with subtitles

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    "With her first feature, Marianne Hettinger proves to be a real multi-talent".

    "Smart, sexy and seriously funny…"
    Focus Magazine

    "Gives us a look at how far someone is willing to go to get attention of their object of desire.  Good choreography and fun fantasy segments." Screening committee of DANCES WITH FILMS

    "It is original and entertaining." MICHAEL BACON (of the Grammy award winning duo "The Bacon Brothers")

    "...filmmaker Marianne Hettinger: if Woody Allen was German and female..." (award winning director and film producer John Gallagher)

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    I wrote the first draft of MANGO TANGO within a month. I then hired the actors and found my DP. MICHELE CIVELLI, a well-known fashion photographer and documentary filmmaker for Australian television for whom MANGO TANGO would also be the first feature film. He used his own excellent HD camera.

    Rather than waiting for somebody to give me money I decided to invest my own and just get it done against all odds. Michele was my only crew, he handled sound, lighting and DP work by himself. We did have a boom person and occasionally some PA's. We shot the film in 23 days, scattered over the period of a year and shot the final scenes in the German Alps first. With a very low budget we managed to fly a crane over to Germany and transport it by sticking it through the sunroof of my brother's BMW.

    We had a special permit to shoot in an off-limits nature reservoir on top of a mountain. There I ran into my first trouble, when the boom operator, a 45-year old German man, suffered a nervous break down. With no one else around to help, my poor 5'2'' mother ended up holding the boom for a couple of days.

    A lot of synchronistic things happened as well: as soon as I started writing my film, before it was even finished, there were newspaper and magazine articles and interviews about my first adventure as a filmmaker in the German media.

    The Prince Emmanuel von Thurn und Taxis who owns a castle overlooking the famous "Neuschwanstein Castle" (there's a replica of it in Disneyland!) contacted me after having read about my shoot in the area. He let me use his castle for free in a beautiful dream sequence with King Ludwig's Castle in the background. He also did a great job in a subsequent cameo.

    Back in New York there were a few more challenges in store for me: I had hired a man with shifty eyes, who does odd jobs around neighborhood to play a derelict in my film. It's called type-casting. After he was wrapped we broke for lunch. I felt bad he hadn't eaten, so I let him come into my apartment where we had lunch with the crew. After that we continued shooting but he insisted on using the bathroom. So I let him in for a moment while I was directing a scene on my block. He took his role a little too much to heart because after he had left my precious computer was gone as well. Since we don't have surveillance video, the police weren't able to get a search warrant.

    Anyway, on we went and I edited the film with Martin Biehn at Liberty Studios. The owner, Tony Lover, an Oscar nominated filmmaker, gave me valuable feedback as time went on.

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    Marianne Hettinger

    Q: Marianne Hettinger, what inspired you to write MANGO TANGO?
    A: As a teenager I moved to New York City, a melting pot for singles as well as the city with the largest density of therapists per square mile. I used to go for long walks by the Hudson River with a friend, a more or less prominent TV shrink, who also happens to be a relationship expert. She did most of the talking and I listened. What struck me was, that as a 'relationship expert' who happens to be a very attractive blonde, she had great difficulties finding a mate. Even though she was able to dish out great advice to clients she was so insecure in her private life that before she would go on a first date with a man she would run to psychics to let them tell her if he would be marriage material. She would also do all kinds of esoteric practices to "hook" a potential mate. It was fascinating. That's how I came up with the character of "Marlene" in MANGO TANGO. Marlene becomes a victim of "spiritual help" after she's gone through yet another break up.

    Q: Speaking of- there are some crazy therapy methods in your film.
    A: Yes, there are. During my research I not only researched conventional Freudian, Jungian and cognitive therapies, I also found out that there are a lot of people who call themselves therapists, but they're really quacks who practice without a license. They might mix Hindu rituals, bioenergetics and trampoline jumping. (She laughs). And once in a while you'll have to make do with lemons for good karma when the supermarket runs out of coconuts.

    Q: And what about mangos?
    A: Oh yes, mangos. Let me share a secret: It's better not to take a bath with those.

    Q: In MANGO TANGO you play the lead role of "MARLENE". How much is autobiographical?
    A: I'm glad you ask! 21.5% of the film is indeed autobiographical. The rest you'll find out when you watch the movie.

    Q: Tell us about your main character "Marlene"
    A: Marlene is passionate about being a dance teacher. And she's constantly searching for the one true love that many people dream of, even though they won't admit to it. She's gullible and falls into one relationship trap after another. She tries to make the best out of these bizarre, comical situations, even when a gentleman's hairpiece slips during a romantic date.

    Marianne Hettinger

    Q: Who else is in the cast?
    A: FREDERICK BOSCHE plays the male lead of Dr. Jesus Goldstein. A challenging role that required portraying a split personality and some stunts. Freddy had been performing with the De La Guarda Shows all over the world and its offspring, the hit show FUERZA BRUTA This background makes him a very athletic actor. I first noticed his outrageous talent to transform into different characters when I watched him in his one-person-show in 1999 which blew me away. Then there's the fantastic 3-time Emmy award winner MICHAEL E. KNIGHT who plays the Shaman in my film. A tremendously talented and intelligent actor with a broad range. Besides numerous TV, film and stage roles, he has been playing the role of TAD on daytime TV's ALL MY CHILDREN over the last 25 years. His brilliant comedic timing and physical comedy remind me of the late John Ritter. On Feb. 9th 2011 Michael was featured on THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW. In MANGO TANGO he was so dedicated to playing his role that he sacrificed his own Armani suit by taking a bath in it and pouring hot wax over it. Other than that I was blessed to have found a wonderful cast with mostly unknown but very talented actors and non-actors.

    Q: Ms. Hettinger, how important is the element of dance in your film?
    A: Very important. Dance represents our heroine's soul journey which is reflected in her dreams. I was lucky enough to get dance legend DAVID PARSONS and 'DANCING WITH THE STARS' alumni NICK KOSOVICH for some real fun scenes.

    Q: From dance to music: how did you select your fantastic soundtrack?
    A: The music played a key role. Since my childhood my family has been playing music together. In MANGO TANGO I play the piano, a Robert Schumann piece I learnt as a 7-year old. My brother Tosso has a sound studio in Brooklyn and is a talented musician-composer now and wrote several wonderful pieces for my film. Even STING, who frequently hires Tosso's Cuban band GRUPO IREK, said "Tosso Hettinger is a great musiciant".
    The soundtrack also includes two Grammy award winners: world famous tango composer PABLO ZIEGLER, Grammy award winner MICHAEL BACON (of THE BACON BROTHERS), the fabulous Maurizio Minardi, Gennaro, Jennie DeVoe and famous violinist and Grammy nominee PHILIPPE QUINT. During the shoot, Philippe forgot his 3.2 million dollar Stradivarius violin, which he plays in my film, in a taxi. It was reported about in the media and thank God he got it back and then gave an impromptu concert for cab drivers to thank them.

    Q: Ms. Hettinger, I keep hearing about your very original style of filmmaking. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
    A: Well, I grew up in Germany. As kids we were only allowed to watch half an hour of television per week. We grew up without internet and my parents introduced me to world literature like Herman Hesse and Tolstoy at an early age. I started writing short stories at age 7 and haven't stopped since. From age 7-10 I won music competitions on the piano, which helped me greatly with discipline, timing and concentration. My dad was politically and environmentally active and wanted to assure that there would never be a repeat of the Holocaust. As a teenager I followed my dream to come to America and did a lot of growing up in New York. I felt especially drawn to the surreal comedies of Woody Allen. All this, I'm sure, contributed to the unique blend that is expressed in my film work.

    Marianne Hettinger

    Q: What was the length of your shoot?
    A: 23 days. Different seasons though, so we had to wait.

    Q: Can you tell us the budget of your film?
    A: Down payment for a really nice apartment in Manhattan.

    Q: How have audience reactions been so far?
    A: We've gotten great audience responses all around. At the VENTURA FILM FESTIVAL we won the JURY PRIZE for BEST FEATURE. They're showing MANGO TANGO again this year because it had been so popular last year and SAINT VITUS DANCE is already nominated for the July 2011 Ventura Film Festival. I received the BEST DIRECTOR award at the DETROIT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL which had a special meaning for me because at age fifteen, when I came to the US for the first time, it was in Detroit, Michigan, that I decided I wanted to make dance films. At the QUEENS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL I was nominated for BEST DIRECTOR and BEST FEATURE. Movie- goers always seem quite touched and laugh at sold out screenings. We've had great successes in California, Detroit, New York, USA as well as in Berlin, Munich and Augsburg, Germany. Even in Germany, although MANGO TANGO was screened in its original version (95% English and 5% German), people understood the universal storyline with its innate humor. At the "Fünf-Seen-Filmfestival" ( in Munich, Germany, MANGO TANGO won most popular film with the audience in 2010, so they added 3 screenings of my film that sold out every time.

    Q: What's next?
    A: I just finished my 10-minute short film "SAINT VITUS DANCE", a companion piece of sorts, but it can stand on its own. It's about a dancer trying to get to the audition of her dream job in Manhattan during rush hour. Other than that I am working on a couple of screenplays. I can't wait to be on set again and direct my next movie!

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    Screenings and Film Festivals

  • July 24th 2011, the feature MANGO TANGO was screened at the "CELEBRATE TANGO FESTIVAL" in New York City followed by a Q&A with the director and filmmaker Marianne Hettinger..
  • July 8th-18th 2011 VENTURA FILM FESTIVAL
  • August 2010 FUENF SEEN FILM FESTIVAL (FSFF) in Munich, Germany, AUDIENCE AWARD, nomination for a career advancement award for up and coming filmmaker.
  • September 2009 BERLIN, GERMANY, CASABLANCA CINEMA screening
  • May 2009 AUGSBURG, GERMANY LILIOM movie theatre screening
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    Motion Picture Production News Channel, by, posted 07/ 22/2011
    Award Winning Filmmaker Marianne Hettinger's Feature and New Short to Screen in NYC Festival.

    Dating and Love, by, posted 07/19/2011, Award Winning Film Maker, Marianne Hettinger, at Celebrate Tango Festival in NYC.

    New York City events, by, Award Winning Film Maker, Marianne Hettinger, at Celebrate Tango Festival in NYC.


    REVIEW AUGSBURGER ALLGEMEINE, GERMANY, 05/09/2009 by Eric Zwang-Eriksson
    (English translation)


    Film Premiere: Marianne Hettinger introduces her first film MANGO TANGO in Augsburg.

    An empty beach, a woman in a red dress- time passes slowly. MANGO TANGO is the title of the first feature of Marianne Hettinger, a filmmaker living in New York, originally from Augsburg. The World Premiere took place last Tuesday at the sold out LILIOM THEATER in Augsburg.
    Marlene, a New York City dance teacher, is looking for Mr. Right. She encounters a Latin lover, who quickly shatters her dreams when his hair piece leaves his head during their first rendezvous. An enlightenment seeker seals their love with her menstruation blood next. Finally, fed up, the dancer seeks out a therapist, not knowing that he will be her biggest challenge yet. Enchanting about this film is not only its absurd content, but the visual power of its surreal images: mangos that dance tenderly in a bathtub and ants, ants, ants.
    Marianne Hettinger not only directed the project, she's also playing the lead. There are autobiographical elements in her 98- minute feature: For the past 20 years she's been living in New York, making a living as a dance teacher, author and actress. She also performs on Broadway. For MANGO TANGO she was able to cast three time Emmy Award winner Michael E. Knight and dance legend David Parsons which is almost a miracle.
    A miracle that continues throughout the whole film like a red thread. An impressive first work, sensitive and disturbing at once.
    Marianne Hettinger has been working on a few new projects, including two new screenplays and planning a collaboration with former World Champion figure skater Norbert Schramm. Stay tuned!
    MANGO TANGO will have an additional screening on Sunday, May 10th, at the LILIOM THEATER.

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    How to buy the MANGO TANGO Collector's Edition DVD

    MANGO TANGO, original Collector's Edition DVD

    in stock, ships immediately in the USA and Canada:

    US$ 20.00 (one DVD)
    US$ 05.00 (shipping and handling)

    Total: US$ 25.00

    Special Deluxe Edition DVD package

    in stock, ships immediately in the USA and Canada:

    US$ 27.00 (two DVD`s)
    US$ 08.00 (shipping and handling)

    Total: US$ 35.00


    For limited edition DVD's you can pay through paypal. For further information, please contact Marianne Hettinger.

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