TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


River Without Shores

Philipp Mayrhofer



Gus, a young man, passionately in love with Ellena, the daughter of a merchant captain, follows her on board the “Lais”, hiding himself as a stowaway. The two young lovers soon discover that the vessel is carrying a secret military cargo, fated for an unknown destination and protected by a tyrannical supervisor.

In the depths of the ship, Gus must remain hidden, comforted only by the secret visits of his beloved and the company of some of the crew who discover his presence on board and befriend him.

Gus becomes aware of the sailor’s rising fear of the unknown cargo and the ruthless supervisor. Ellena’s visits become fewer and rumours about her alliance with the supervisor awaken Gus’ suspicion. Confined to the darkness, he struggles to keep his mind together and resist the increasing madness on board.

In the calm after a heavy storm, Gus is told that Ellena is missing.


River Without Shores is an adaptation of a work by the German author Hans Henny Jahnn, written in the 1940s. While reading this book, I was fascinated by the peculiar mix of an existentialist novel and a naval adventure thriller. The ship on which the entire film will be set, is a highly symbolical place. With its maze-like hull, dark corners, endless hallways and hidden rooms, it becomes the incarnation of the realm of passion, where doors open up to the archaic, visceral and dark side of the human soul. I think of River Without Shores as a “film noir” version of a coming of age story, only that on the ship, the demons of the protagonist’s lost innocence become surprisingly real. The film’s narrative angle is closely related to the protagonist’s point of view. We are dragged into his passion-driven adventure and witness at his side the struggle against inner and outer enemies.

While I want to achieve a film with a high level of suspense and some clever twists, I also want River Without Shores to become an emotional experience; it should visually and acoustically translate the nightmarish journey of the protagonist in an intriguing yet chillingly disturbing experience, exactly as the reading of Hans Henny Jahnn’s novel was to me.

Hidden as a stowaway on a mysterious ship, Gus looses his grip on reality and descends into a vicious spiral of desire, jealousy and fear.
Philipp Mayrhofer

Scriptwriter, Film Director

production notes

directed by
Philipp Mayrhofer

produced byFerris & Brockman
8 rue du Fbg Poissonnière
75010, Paris

in co-production with
Baby Blue Pictures - Germany