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Telepool amps up features

BERLIN — Germany’s Telepool made its name in international TV distribution, but with pics like the hit “7 Dwarfs” sequel, the distrib is looking to also make waves in feature sales.

A subsidiary of pubcaster ARD and Swiss pubcaster SRG, Telepool has put together a catalog that includes some of the highest-profile German films of the year, including current No. 1 box office hit “7 Zwerge — Der Wald ist nicht genug” (7 Dwarfs — The Wood Is Not Enough), follow-up to 2004’s massively successful fairytale spoof “7 Dwarfs.”

While German comedy doesn’t always appeal to international auds, sure to attract greater interest is producer Artur Brauner’s “The Last Train,” directed by husband-and-wife team Joseph Vilsmaier and Dana Vavrova. Pic explores the fate of a group of Berlin Jews who are among the last to be transported from the capital to Auschwitz in 1943, following them from their initial arrest to their harrowing journey. Sibel Kekilli, who won the German and European Film Award for her role in 2004’s “Head-On,” and Roman Roth star.

Recent acquisitions also include:

  • Volker Schlondorff’s German-Polish pic “Strike,” about a young female crane operator at the Gdansk shipyards who inadvertently triggers Poland’s Solidarity movement.

  • Anno Saul’s “Where is Fred?” a screwball comedy starring Til Schweiger, Juergen Vogel and Alexandra Maria Lara. Schweiger starred in last year’s hit comedy “Barefoot.”

  • Sebastian Schipper’s “A Friend of Mine,” starring Daniel Bruehl and Juergen Vogel in a comedy about two very different friends — pic has been generating a strong buzz since opening here last week.

Justyna Muesch, who oversees acquisitions, says the company is looking to make higher profile selections of quality product while maintaining a broad range of genres.

“Telepool is following a basic strategy of acquiring big German productions, well-known filmmakers such as Joseph Vilsmaier and Volker Schlondorff and up-and-coming young talent like Christian Ditter, the director of our hit comedy “French for Beginners,” Muesch adds.

Telepool also beefed up its TV portfolio in July when it inked a longterm exclusive deal with German producer-distrib Senator Entertainment for domestic rights to its vast catalog, which includes titles such as “Chocolat,” “Buena Vista Social Club” and “Heavenly Creatures.”

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