Casanova Gene
The introduction is seductively simple, iconographically speaking. Gondolas, with the Campanile di San Marco in the background: Venice. A carnival creature decked out in feathers poses before the backdrop. From the birthplace of Giacomo Casanova, whose name is synonymous with male seduction, we move on to biologists, who seek to prove the existence of a Casanova gene using finches. If, as they say, female polygamy has no value from an evolutionary perspective, yet still exists in nature, it must be passed down from father to daughter. An actor playing Casanova gives an interview in the changing room after a show and transforms back into John Malkovich. A dominatrix receives a client; children play in the forest. The montage deftly weaves together a tapestry spun from aspects of nature and culture, gender roles, desire, sexuality, body and embodiment. Staged and documentary episodes shot on 16mm are edited together, leaving space for complex associations. Thematic connections correspond with visual ones: Nature as a forest, houseplants and oil paintings, feathers, glittery shoes and a red skirt provide food for the eye as well as the mind. A film that itself knows how to seduce.
by Luise Donschen
with Wolfgang Forstmeier, John Malkovich, Elija Pott, Undine de Rivière, Lumi Lausas, Luise Donschen, Zacharias Zitouni
Germany 2018 German, English 67’ Colour Documentary form


  • Wolfgang Forstmeier
  • John Malkovich
  • Elija Pott
  • Undine de Rivière
  • Lumi Lausas
  • Luise Donschen
  • Zacharias Zitouni


Written and Directed by Luise Donschen
Cinematography Helena Wittmann
Editing Luise Donschen
Music Erik Manouz
Sound Design Nika Breithaupt
Sound Finlay Braithwaite, Nika Breithaupt, Louis Fried, Steffen Danek, Nikolas Kuhl, Karsten Krause, Julia Tielke, Roman Vehlken
Costumes Katharina Duve
Producer Luise Donschen

Produced by

Luise Donschen

Luise Donschen

Born in Berlin in 1982. She studied Ethnology, German, and Film. Casanovagen is her first feature film.


2005 Zwischen den Grenzen (Between the Borders); 25 min., co-directed by Laura von Bierbrauer 2012 2012: Macht, dass mir inne wird, was ich durch euch verloren habe! (Give Me Back My Own Picture Perfect Memory!); 25 min. 2018 Casanovagen (Casanova Gene)

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2018