A loving tribute to Studio Babelsberg, the story of a family’s escape from Nazi Germany, a moving drama about young Palestinians and Israelis working together, and an adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s children’s novel “The Amazing Maurice” are among a wide-ranging selection of German films on offer at AFM this year.
Leading sales companies are presenting the gamut of romantic dramas, arthouse works, high-profile literary adaptations, family films and animated pics.
Picture Tree Intl. presents Martin Schreier’s “Traumfabrik,” a period-piece love letter to East Germany’s famed DEFA film studios, now known as Studio Babelsberg. Produced by the late Tom Zickler, the romantic drama follows a young studio extra’s ambitious efforts to reunite with the French girl he loves after being separated by the construction of the Berlin Wall. The film, which opens the 50th Goa Film Festival on Nov. 20, has already sold in major territories around the world, including China, where it was nabbed by Bliss Media.
Zickler, who died in September, launched his shingle, also known as Traumfabrik, at Studio Babelsberg in 2017. The studio is honoring Zickler on Nov. 9 by naming one of its sound stages after him.
Also sure to attract buyers is Beta Cinema’s “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.” Oscar-winning director Caroline Link’s adaptation of Judith Kerr’s semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of a little girl and her family forced to flee their home in Berlin when the Nazis rise to power.
“My aim was to demonstrate to children and young adults what it means to be displaced,” says Link. “But despite all the darkness surrounding the protagonists, this film is about confidence, curiosity, optimism and shows you the enormous power a family can give.”
In Global Screen’s “Crescendo,” by Dror Zahavi, a world famous conductor, played by Peter Simonischek (“Toni Erdmann”), struggles to put together a Palestinian-Israeli orchestra while seeking to overcome the discord between his musicians. Julia Weber, Global Screen’s head of theatrical sales and acquisitions, describes the film – which was inspired by Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra – as a “remarkable theatrical movie and contribution to the worldwide efforts towards understanding, humanity and peace.” Global Screen has closed a number of international sales for the pic, including a North American deal with Menemsha Films.
ARRI Media’s “The German Lesson,” Christian Schwochow’s adaptation of Siegfried Lenz’s 1968 novel, follows a boy in Nazi Germany caught between loyalty to his dutiful policeman father and fascination for the work of a local expressionist painter barred from creating his art.
ARRI also presents Hüseyin Tabak’s social drama “Gipsy Queen,” about a young Romani single mother in Hamburg who begins to box in a local bar to make ends meet.
Likewise making its international market debut is Beta’s romantic drama “The Space Between the Lines” (“Gut gegen Nordwind”), by Vanessa Jopp and based on Daniel Glattauer’s international bestseller. The film follows a couple, portrayed by Nora Tschirner and Alexander Fehling, who accidentally meet via email and continue an increasingly intense online correspondence.
ARRI and Global Screen are also showcasing a slew of live-action family films and animated features.
Based on one of the most successful children’s fantasy books by author Wolfgang Hohlbein, Tim Trageser’s “The Magic Kids” (“Die Wolf-Gäng”) follows three young supernatural yet timid teens, a vampire, a werewolf and a fairy, as they team up to stop a diabolical enemy. Sony Pictures Germany is set to release the pic on Jan. 23.
ARRI’s “Four Enchanted Sisters,” from director Sven Unterwaldt and based on Sheridan Winn’s “Sprite Sisters” book series, revolves around four sisters with magical powers who face off with the dastardly Glenda, mistress of the black arts. Walt Disney Germany is releasing the movie on Jan. 9.
Viviane Andereggen “The Three!!!” proved a local box office hit for Constantin Film this summer with its story of three young sleuths who investigate strange goings on at an old haunted theater while working on a youth club’s musical production.
ARRI will also screen new footage of its upcoming animated feature “The Ogglies.”
Global Screen, meanwhile, presents “The Amazing Maurice,” a 3D animated film based on Pratchett’s bestselling novel. Inspired by the German legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the pic follows a streetwise cat, a horde of rats and a pipe player who team up to scam towns.
Global Screen is likewise offering “Fritzi – A Revolutionary Tale,” an animated film about the fall of the Berlin Wall, set for release in 2020 to mark the 30th anniversary of German reunification. The company is also screening “Bayala,” its animated adventure based on toymaker Schleich’s fairy figurine line.