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Three Stones for Jean Genet

GER 2014, 7 min

In April of 2013, American singer Patti Smith travels to the grave of French writer Jean Genet in Larache, Morocco. She brings him three stones, which she collected for him over 30 years ago.


„There are places of yearning. There are promises that accompany us our entire lives. And there are friends, who listen and ask questions. Frieder Schlaich and Patti Smith are linked by just such a friendship. Tangier is the place, and the promise is one that was made to Jean Genet. Patti Smith has been carrying the secret around with her for many years, inside a matchbox. When chance creates a situation that brings everything together, she is able to honour her promise. Frieder accompanies Patti through the city he feels so close to, and she speaks of that which is close to her. At the cemetery they encounter a young boy who carries the spell of the story further. Two rolls of black and white film, a Bolex and the few minutes before a live performance limit the shooting time. Having the necessary concentration and knowledge of one another is what sets the film apart. The view across the ocean lies in its limitation.“ (Berlinale Shorts 2014)


The film is temporarily available free of charge on our Vimeo channel. For other providers, see “Watch Movie”.
Language: English, Subtitles: German, French, Spanish

Awards and Festivals

- FBW-Prädikat „Besonders Wertvoll"
- Berlinale / Shorts Competition 2014
- Filmtage Augsburg 2014
- Neiße Filmfestival 2014
- Festival de Cannes 2014
- Beat Films Festival Moscow 2014
- Cinema City IFF Serbia 2014
- Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014
- Curtas Vila do Conde IFF 2014
- Jagran Film Festival India 2014
- „Berlinale Shorts Go Abroad“ Goethe-Institut Hanoi 2014
- Guanajuato International Film Festival Mexico 2014
- Melbourne IFF 2014
- Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival 2014
- Der NEUE HEIMAT film, Burg Klempenow 2014
- Kerry Film Festival Ireland 2014
- TIFF Toronto International Film Festival 2014
- Stockholm International Film iFestival 2014
- Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival 2014
- Sleepwalkers Short Film Festival in Tallinn, Estonia 2014
- Kurzfilmfestival Köln UNLIMITED 2014
- Festival on Wheels Turkey 2014
- Bogotá Short Film Festival / BOGOSHORTS 2014
- Flickerfest Sydney 2015
- Stuttgarter Filmwinter 2015
- !f Istanbul International Independent Film Festival 2015
- International short film festival Clermont-Ferrand (Soirée Allemande/AG Kurzfilm) 2015
- REGARD - Saguenay International Short Film Festival Canada 2015
- International Short Film Festival "Go Short" Netherlands 2015
- 59th BFI London Film Festival, GB, 2015
- Goethe Institut Ottawa, Canada, 2016
- Festival of Short Films and Animation of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, 2016
- Moves #200-202, Berlin, 2019

Additional Texts

Frieder Schlaich about his short film

Since 2005, when the shooting of „The African Twintowers“ took place, Patti Smith, Karim Debbagh and I have been sharing an idea. 8 years later, in April 2013 we finally realized it.

In this particular moment there was no plan for a film, the situation seemed to private to me. But I wanted to document our little discovery tour in some way and packed Christoph Schlingensief‘s 16mm Bolex camera, which had been given into my custody shortly before. Patti Smith was friends with Christoph Schlingensief and I knew she would like this reference. There were also a few rolls of old black and white material left.

On a sunny day, after Patti Smith‘s concert in Tanger, we gave her a tour through town and to the beach-café at Cape Spartel, to places that linked us through Paul Bowles, whom the three of us knew well and admired. On the second day we went to Larache. At the grave of Jean Genet we did only a few shots. I wasn‘t much used anymore to put in film rolls, but it was nice to shoot with the heavily-rattling Bolex. A day later I strolled another time through Tanger with the camera and filmed a couple of places that we had visited in shots as long as possible. (The Bolex works with a spring, not with batteries, it runs for 30 min maximum.)

Patti Smith revealed the entire secret of the three stones only in Summer 2013, when I asked her to record the story, before her concert in Hamburg, in a hotel room. There was only one take, exactly like with the Bolex - which became this short film now. What the three stones are about, can‘t be disclosed here of course, it can only be told by Patti Smith, in the film.

This small film is a gift, you couldn‘t make up something like that.


Frieder Schlaich
Told by
Patti Smith
Frieder Schlaich
Kathrin Krottenthaler  
Jochen Jezussek
Color Grading
Matthias Behrens
Frieder Schlaich, Irene von Alberti, Karim Debbagh
Filmgalerie 451

Distribution Details

Screening Format
DCP (2K, 25 fps, 5.1)
Blu-ray Disc
ProRes file
Aspect Ratio
16mm / Bolex, 1:1,37
Promotion Material
A3 poster (rent only)
License Area
Info-Programm gemäß §14 JuSchG