Beta plans Schneider biography

Company steps up U.S. acquisitions

CANNES — Teuton production-distribution house Beta Film is co-producing and distributing a TV movie about the life and loves of German-French actress Romy Schneider.

The project was unveiled at Mip TV by Beta president Jan Motjo at the same time as he announced that Beta Film was stepping up its acquisitions of North American TV programming for distribution in Europe.

Furthering its entry into English-language TV programming, Beta Film is also in negotiations with U.K. producer Rainmark to co-produce a major, which Beta is keeping under wraps.

For the Schneider bio, which will be ready for delivery at Mip TV 2009, award-winning Jessica Schwarz (“Perfume,” “Off Beat”) will play Schneider, while Torsten Fischer (“Impossibly Yours”) will direct from a screenplay by Benedikt Roeskau (“Side Effects”). The bio is produced by Germany’s Phoenix Film for Germany state broadcaster ARD, Austrian pubcaster ORF and Beta Film.

Beta already holds distribution rights to nearly a dozen Schneider films, including the legendary “Sissi” films, which have sold to 125 countries.

Beta announced only last week that it had taken continental European distribution rights to two Canadian series, both from Fireworks/Contentfilm: “The Border,” and “Heartland.”

“There’s no doubt about the quality of product coming out of Germany,” said Motjo. But “besides German product, North American product is of very high standards.”

“We were essentially driven by the quality of the production. The exchange rate was secondary, but if we can get U.S. or Canadian product under interesting conditions, it’s an option for us,” Motjo said at Mip TV.

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