TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding



Marian Mathias, Joy Jorgensen

Germany, France, United States


Haas is an 18-year-old girl raised by a single father in Missouri. Growing up in an isolated town composed of mostly German immigrant families, she is unsure of the life that has been set out for her by her community.

When her father suddenly dies, she is left to bury him alone. In order to meet the terms of his will, she must bring him to the town where he was born, a community battling both the stresses of climate and economy. It is in this area, along the Mississippi River, where she meets Will. He is in the region working to support his mother whose eyesight is failing her.

Will has an artistic soul, but one tethered to the harsh reality of his circumstances. He is drawn to Haas and Haas is drawn to him. He teaches Haas to live and Haas teaches him to feel. It is in their friendship, their shared expression of living, where Haas’ understanding of loss begins to take shape.


The subject of love – particularly the struggle between love and circumstance – is important to me right now. "Runner" is my first feature and it is also the story of first love. It is a story of two young people, both in times of great trial, who find and reinforce one another. The characters in focus are those who possess both fragility and strength: Haas, in her quietude, her connectedness with people and environment, has enormous power; Will, a young man who possesses the same, is ridiculed for his sensitivity.

Like a painting or a still, I try to see each frame as an opportunity or an idea. We are capable of great things with the technical advances available to filmmakers today, but I believe visuals can be equally captivating when used with restraint. In "Runner", I aim to present a visual language that reflects the narrative’s constant push and pull between dark and light, death and life. I will look at joy as a means of investigating sorrow and vice versa, and for love to grow somewhere in between.

budget, distribution & sales

"Runner" is Marian Mathias’ debut feature. Set in the American Midwest, it poetically conveys the diversity of characters and thoughts that still survive in this unique landscape. The budget is € 620.000, of which we have secured € 175.000 in private equity funding. The film is eligible for a 30% tax credit from the State of Illinois. We are looking for partners in financing and for an international sales agent to help complete funding before going into production in March 2020. We will film along the Mississippi River during the dramatic change between Winter and Spring.

After the death of her father, Haas meets Will. A story of two strangers finding, changing and leaving one another.
Marian Mathias

Scriptwriter, Film Director

Joy Jorgensen


production notes

original title

directed by
Marian Mathias

produced byKilljoy Films
Spenerstrasse 25A


in co-production with
Easy Riders – France
Man Alive – United States

total production budget
€ 620.000