Star's Scientology a problem for many Germans
In its first six months, Germany’s new production fund has already proven a robust lure, attracting high-profile productions ranging from Tom Tykwer’s “The International,” to the Wachowski brothers’ “Speed Racer” and Uli Edel’s “The Baader Meinhof Complex.”Trouble is, the gains made by the so-called Neumann fund (named for its political godfather, cultural minister Bernd Neumann) have lately been overshadowed by one of the films it helped attract: Bryan Singer’s “Valkyrie,” which stars Tom Cruise as German resistance hero count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the military officer who tried to assassinate Hitler in 1944. Some pols have taken a stand against allowing the film and Cruise — whose advocacy of Scientology is problematic for many Germans — permission to shoot at the original location where Stauffenberg was executed. Antje Blumenthal, a conservative party backbencher and cult specialist, fumed that granting permission to the memorial site to Cruise and company would amount to “an official stamp of approval” for Scientology. Just as the Teuton film industry is looking to build some momentum, the political debate over Cruise playing Stauffenberg is making Germany look like anything but the liberal and tolerant society it’s become over the last 60 years. The “Valkyrie” stir makes it seem like foreign filmmakers have to pass a moral test before being allowed to tackle a story based on German history. After years spent lobbying for a production fund that benefits local filmmakers and brings foreign productions into the country, the Teuton film biz is booming — creatively and commercially. German bizzers hope the moral panic over “Valkyrie” won’t stifle that growth.