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feature / drama


Wenn die Heidelerche singt

After his bachelor party, a 45-year-old man wakes up in the middle of the forest but cannot find his way out. On the way he meets a young woman with memory problems. An exciting encounter that is fateful for the both.

Ana Bilić – director | writer | DOP | editor | producer

Title: When the Woodlark sings
Original Title: Wenn die Heidelerche singt
Language: German
Genre: arthouse drama
Runtime: 117 min
Production country: Austria
Production year: 2022
Film trailers:


Director and writer: Ana Bilić
Producer: Danilo Wimmer, Ana Bilić
Cinematographer: Ana Bilić, Goran Hantschel, Harald Sahling, Colin Hantschel
Editors: Danilo Wimmer, Ana Bilić
Music: Danilo Wimmer
Sound design: Danilo Wimmer, Thilo Schaller
SFX: Danilo Wimmer
Stills, light: Margit M. Marnul
Assistant director: Sanela Rezakhani
Theme song singer: Mario Fuster

Key Cast

Danilo Wimmer, Valentina Himmelbauer


Eva-Maria Marchard, Isabella Haas, Aleksandra Tulej, Paul Schuster-Zikeli, Birgit Wallner, Marlene Plank, Mario Lepera, Georg Furtner, Bianca Hantschel, Dragoljub Bilić, Andreas Schuster, Nikša Bradarić-Šlujo, Adrian Schuster-Zikeli, Naida Jusufhodžić-Grbić

  • 45. Semana de Cine de Lugo – Lugo, Spain
  • Official Selection – International Competition Feature Film
  • Bogocine 39th Festival de cine de Bogotá – Bogotá, Colombia
  • Official Selection – International Competition Feature Film
  • NewFilmmakers NY – New York, USA
  • Semi-Finalist – Best Feature Film
  • INFLUX Film Awards – Huntington Beach CA, USA
  • Award Winner – Best International Film
  • The IndieFEST Film Awards – La Jolla, CA, USA
  • Award of Merit – Film Feature
  • Award of Merit – Script / Writer
  • Blow-Up Arthouse Filmfest – Chicago, USA
  • Semi-Finalist – Film Feature
  • Top Indie Film Awards – Tokyo, Japan
  • Nominee – Best Feature
  • Nominee – Best Original Idea
  • Winner – Best Actress
  • Nominee – No Budget Spirit
  • Digital Griffix Film Festival – Montreal, Canada
  • Nominee – Best First Time Director
  • Mediterranean Film Festival – Cannes, France
  • Official Selection – Feature Film
  • AltFF Alternative Film Festival – Toronto, Canada
  • Nominee – Best Director
  • SANFICI Santander Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente – Bucaramanga, Columbia
  • Official Selection – International Competition Feature Film
  • The Macoproject Film Festival – New York, USA
  • Semi-Finalist – Best Feature Film
  • Couch Film Festival – Toronto, Canada
  • Award Winner – Best Writer
  • Nominee – Best Actress
  • Vesuvius International Film Fest – Campania, Italy
  • Award Winner – Best Feature Movie
  • Florence Film Awards – Florence, Italy
  • Honorable Mention – Best Original Score
  • Official Selection – Best Original Screenplay
  • Milan Gold Awards – Milan, Italy
  • Honorable Mention – Best Soundtrack
  • Rome International Movie Awards – Rome, Italy
  • Award Winner – Best Mystery Film
  • Award Winner – Best First Time Director
  • Hollywood Gold Awards – Los Angeles, USA
  • Honorable Mention – Best Original Screenplay
  • Golden Bridge Istanbul Short Film Festival – Istanbul, Turkey
  • Official Selection – Best Feature Film
  • Official Selection – Best Female Director
  • Top Line Distribution Showase - Los Angeles, USA
  •  Award Winner – Best Narrative Feature Film
  • 8 & HalFilm Awards – Rome, Italy
  • Award Winner – Best Original Score
  • Tokyo Film Awards – Tokyo, Japan
  • Golden Award Winner – Best 1st Time Filmmaker
  • Crown Point International Film Festival – Chicago, USA
  • Award Winner – Best 1st Time Director
  • Award Winner – Best Score
  • Sweet Democracy Film Awards – Cannes, France
  • Award Winner – Best Mystery Film
  • Official Selection – Best Screenplay
  • London Movie Awards – London, UK
  • Silver Award Winner – Best Original Screenplay
  • International Motion Picture Awards – Brooklin, Canada
  • Award Winner – Best Director
  • New York Neorealism Film Awards – Rome, Italy
  • Official Selection – Best Original Score
  • 4theatre selection. – Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • Official Selection – Best Director
  • Hollywood on the Tiber Film Awards – Rome, Italy
  • Award Winner – Best Original Screenplay
  • International World Film Awards – New York, USA
  • Official Selection – Best First Time Director Feature
  • Stanley Film Awards – London, UK
  • Award Winner – Best Original Score
  • Official Selection – Best Screenplay
  • Sydney Australian Film Festival – Sydney, Australia
  • Official Selection – Best Soundtrack
  • Europe Film Festival U.K. – London, UK
  • Jury Diamond Awards Winner – Feature / Best First-Time Director
  • Iconic Images Film Festival – Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Official Selection – Best Drama Film
  • Official Selection – Best Female Director
  • Frida Film Festival – Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • Official Selection – Original Screenplay
  • Madrid International Movie Awards – Madrid, Spain
  • Award Winner – Best Mystery
  • Award Winner – Best Actor

The Idea for the Film

The first impulse for the story came from my mother. She is a passionate mushroom picker and spends a lot of time in the forest. Once she got lost in the forest and after a while she began to listen intently into the forest. There she noticed that a bird sang unpleasantly and shrilly whenever she took the wrong direction. She followed the „warnings“ of the bird and so she came back from the forest unharmed. – In this context, I asked myself what it would look like if two people were on their own in the forest. Would they adapt to the forest or to nature, or would they act independently of the environment? Would they try to impose their own idea of being together and helping each other? To what extent would they stumble over their own traits? And would nature respond as the bird does – helpful? How does the relationship of two people reflect on nature? Are there parallels?

The Characters

Characteristically, Alex and the young woman are the spitting image of each other in their striving. The two are each the savior of the other and at the same time the victim of the other. Or in other words, both become the victim of the perpetrator and vice versa. The question, of course, is what causes this.

In my opinion, the cause is their insatiable desire to exercise control over unpredictable events that could lead to the love deficit. Thus, the problem of expectations and reality. When expectations and reality do not meet, one wants to control reality and force them to live up to expectations. In the film, the two characters face this challenge. The two deceive the other, dazzle, pretend something because they themselves want to live in a certain reality. They use the influence of the other because they desperately want to bring about a certain reality. The reality that should correspond to the expectations.

The Forest

The forest plays an important role in my film. It directs the situation, but not through concrete actions, but through signaling, forewarning; it is a catalyst and does not change in its function through the film. The forest enables catharsis, inner purification in the two protagonists: they confront sadness and helplessness regarding their past. So, there is an important connection between the forest and the character development and their realizations.

In any case, my intention was that the story – with the help of the role of the forest – could turn over into the illusion at any moment, and vice versa – that the illusion might turn over into reality. This was not accidental, because it corresponds to a real fact: each person lives in his own reality, which can be an illusion for another person.

Visual Concept

I chose a black and white film because black and white is the counterpoint to the complex subject matter the film addresses. I wanted to point a complex subject into a simple visual concept, to render images of the forest in black and white, to offer a visual eye-pleasing structure and form. There is no variegation of colors to seduce you. This corresponds to the wishes of the protagonists: they know exactly what they want, they are uncompromising and unyielding. – On the other hand, if you look at the black and white nuances, you will discover a wide spectrum of shades of gray, a fine layering, which are not immediately noticeable. This is also the guiding principle of the film: although everything seems to be in order, appearances are deceptive. Black can be white and white can also be black.

There was another reason for making a black-and-white film. Black and white is also aesthetics of the document and the past, and therefore the timeless. And since this film deals with a timeless problem, I find black and white to be a good solution.

I chose natural light for the forest scenes, without artificial interventions. The reason was that the forest is also a character in the film. It is alive, it guides, warns, whispers, protects, comforts, explains, worries, soothes. With natural light, the presence of the forest is greater.


In retrospect, I discovered something personal in my film through a memory that connects the film theme, the forest and the cinema.

It was when I was 8-9 years old. We – my family and I – were on an outing in nature. My parents found a place in a beautiful meadow where we were going to spend the afternoon. Nearby was a forest and I immediately – I don’t know why – ran into the forest. There I hid – as a game – behind a tree in the forest and watched my parents and my brother what they were doing in the meadow. I felt like I was a part of the forest – the sheltered sight was powerful, new and beautiful. My family did everything as usual: spreading the blanket, bringing out food they had brought with, talking, and after a while calling for me as well. Nevertheless, this experience obviously stayed with me and surfaced with my film after so many years.

The feeling – the feeling of observation – is equal to the feeling associated with cinema – one is an observer in secret of what is happening. If one is the observer, then one dwells in two worlds: a safe, familiar one and a strange, new one. One is simultaneously present in the two worlds in different ways, goes out of one’s given reality and is able to transcend one’s space and time boundaries. The same thing we do as film viewers. – This film was obviously a reminiscence that at the same time miraculously united several deeply buried contents into something new.