Cruise, Singer still battling for filming permits

United Artists’ WWII drama “Valkyrie” is getting plenty of support from locals in Germany despite the ongoing battle over filming permits.

In the pic, directed by Bryan Singer and written by Christopher McQuarrie, Tom Cruise will play Col. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, who was executed for attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, director of Oscar-winning pic “The Lives of Others,” said Cruise’s star power would make the neglected story of Stauffenberg’s heroism known to the entire world. Cruise, in the role of Stauffenberg, “would do more to promote Germany’s image than 10 World Cup soccer championships could ever do.”

Execs at Studio Babelsberg, which is partnering with UA on the production, have also said the project would be a great benefit to Germany.

Babelsberg co-topper Christoph Fisser said that sadly, there are far too few cinematic depictionsof the military opposition to Hitler’s regime during the war.

“The assassination attempt against Hitler is hardly known outside Germany. We should therefore be delighted and welcome this wonderful opportunity to improve the image of our country,” Fisser said.

But not everyone feels that way. Stauffenberg’s son, Berthold von Stauffenberg, has blasted the project, saying Cruise “should keep his hands off my father.”

In the most recent twist regarding permission to film at government sites, the German Finance Ministry has overruled the Defense Ministry and has snuffed out plans to lense the film at the Bendlerblock building where Stauffenberg was executed.

Last week, the Defense Ministry said it would allow shooting at the Bendlerblock. But the Finance Ministry has to sign off on permits and a Finance Ministry spokesman said of the memo-rial, a “place of remembrance and mourning, would lose dignity if we were to exploit it as a film set.”

On June 25, the Defense Ministry said it would not allow filming at military sites, citing Cruise’s affiliation with Scientology, which the German government views as a dangerous, profit-based cult with totalitarian aims.

In a statement at that time, German Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said his agency had yet to receive official filming requests from the pic’s producers.

But on June 28 Dirk Kuehnau, head of the Bundesanstalt fuer Immobilienaufgaben (BIMA), the company in charge of government buildings, said that the main hurdle was not Cruise’s Scientology connection but the fact that the Bendlerblock houses part of the German Ministry of Defense.

The lights, cables and camera teams could disrupt work at the Defense Ministry, Kuehnau said, adding that if an arrangement is found through which lensing could be done without interfering with government business, the granting of a filming permit should be no problem.

For now, at least, it looks as if the Finance Ministry will stick by its decision.

Another request to shoot at a Berlin police station was rejected after “intensive review,” according to a spokesman for the Berlin police department. “The adverse impact to the facility would be so grave that the request had to be denied.”

Three years ago, Cruise’s production of “Mission: Impossible III” was denied permission to film key scenes in Berlin’s Reichstag parliament building due to a general ban on commercial film shooting there to maintain the building’s “dignity.”

In 2003, however, pubcaster ARD’s TV movie about Operation Valkyrie, directed by Jo Baier and starring Sebastian Koch (“The Lives of Others”) as Stauffenberg, was allowed to shoot at the Bendlerblock.

The presence of caterers and camera crews at the memorial was a “painful experience” for curators of the memorial site, said Finance Ministry spokesman Torsten Albig.

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