A Trip to the Whales
… and other children’s dreams


Germany 2002
75 Min

Directors: Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken

Andreas is 15 years old. He has cancer. Since seeing the movie Free Willy, his interest on whales grew stronger than ever before. Just once in his life he wanted to see them in free nature. Jacqueline (13, cancer) wants to visit a car-race, Sven (7, lame from the shoulders to his feet) makes the best of the situation as he loves to listen to exciting stories. Hopefully their dreams will also be fulfilled…



2003 — GAGA 3 / Medienfest zum Thema Behinderung / Berlin, Germany

2003  — 1. European Film Festival Integration You and Me / Kolobrzeg, Poland


„A Trip to the Whales is – alone due to the sober description of what life is really like for seriously ill children – a haunting film that can make you really think, but also lift you up.“
Elmar Bendull
// Osnabrücker Zeitung // 9.12.02

„With patient shots, the camera observes the young patients’ suffering. It observes their parents’ distress – and their hope. But it also observes the strength that the children regain – as soon as they are, just once, able to be happy about something again.“
Annika Fischer // WAZ // 9.12.02



Andreas is 15 years old. He’s a huge fan of whales, in particular Keiko the whale from the film “Free Willy”. Andreas has been suffering from Ewing’s sarcoma (bone cancer) for 3 years. Ever since then, his life has been marked by hospital stays, chemotherapy, painful treatments and relapses. As an incentive to get well again, his mother promises him a trip to Iceland to go whale watching. And maybe even to meet Keiko, the whale from the movie. For Andreas, the dream of fulfilling his heart’s desire gives him courage and strength to help him endure the treatments and hospital stays.

The association „Herzenswünsche e. V.“ (Heart’s Desire) in Münster helps seriously ill children by working to make their dreams and wishes come true. All of the treatment plans, infusions, catheters, operations, and chemotherapy sessions fade away, spirits are lifted and the excitement they feel about their wishes being granted gives them a new lease of life.

Jacqueline is 13 years old and radiates power and lust for life. She is fascinated by motor racing and would love to visit a race track. Not least because she knows that motor racing is her father’s big passion too. Making her wish come true would also mean making her father happy, something that she really wants to do. She’s visibly upset by the fact that she is the cause of so much worry for her parents. Jacqueline has cancer too.

Sven (7 years old) had a serious accident a few years ago and ruptured his spinal cord. Ever since then he has been paralysed from the neck down. He can’t move, he can’t speak, he can’t see very well and his only access to the world around him is through what he can hear. When stories are read to him, his eyes light up and he looks around, attentive and alert. A member of staff from the „Herzenswünsche“ association has been coming to the clinic regularly for many years, sitting by Sven’s bedside and reading him stories.

Andreas’s heart’s desire, which has given him so much strength, came true in the summer, with the trip organised with the help of „Herzenswünsche“. In a letter to the association, Andreas writes: „I saw huge waterfalls. I could have stood in front of them, just relaxing, for hours. I stood up close next to bubbling geysers that you normally only see on TV. And I met Keiko. It was the best experience of my life!“


A Trip to the Whales
… and other children’s dreams

Germany 2002
75 Min

Dircectors: Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken
Director of Photography: Jörg Adams
Location Sound: Maarten van de Voort, Axel Schmidt, Csaba Kulcsar
Editor: Marc Schubert
Commissioning Editor: Dagmar Filoda
Co-Production: NDR