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Cannibal film cleared for German release

Court agrees 'Rohtenburg' can be screened

BERLIN — A German federal court has overturned a lower court’s ban on a film depicting the macabre deeds of a convicted cannibal, clearing the way for the pic, “Rohtenburg,” to be screened in Germany more than three years after it was produced.

The 2006 horror film, which was directed by Martin Weisz and produced by Marco Weber’s L.A.-based Atlantic Streamline, was first banned by a regional court in Frankfurt after the cannibal, Armin Meiwes, complained the pic too closely mirrored his case and unjustifiably infringed his personal rights. But the higher Federal Court of Law in Karlsruhe ruled on Tuesday the public’s interest in the film outweighed his complaint. Meiwes had also launched his own private efforts to capitalize from the gory real-life story.

“The court has made a landmark decision for artistic freedom,” said Helge Sasse, topper at the pic’s German distrib Senator Entertainment.

“It’s a positive sign for the entire film industry. I’m delighted that this award-winning film will finally see the light of day.”

Pic stars Thomas Kretschmann (“King Kong”) as Oliver Hartwin, a computer repairman, who, like Meiwes, meets a willing victim on an Internet website for cannibalism enthusiasts. “Felicity” star Keri Russell co-stars as an American student researching the case.

Meiwes was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison in 2004. Meiwes admitted killing his victim, Bernd-Juergen Brandes, and eating at least 20 kilograms of his flesh, but his defense argued that he was guilty at worst of “killing on demand,” which carries a maximum sentence of five years. Crucial to the case has been a gruesome videotape made by Meiwes of the entire incident, during which Brandes made clear his full agreement.

Meiwes, who has become a vegetarian since going to jail, was retried in 2006 after prosecutors appealed the first conviction on lesser manslaughter charges. A Frankfurt court convicted him of murder and sentenced him to life in jail in 2006.

Pic, which is titled “Grimm Love” internationally, won awards at festivals in Sitges, Puchon and Luxembourg.

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