UFA adopts ‘Fatherland’ project

Producer adds eight titles to pipeline

BERLIN — A big-screen adaptation of Robert Harris’ debut novel “Fatherland,” about an alternative world where the Nazis won World War II and Britain is governed from Berlin, leads a slate of eight projects headed for production at UFA Cinema, the RTL Group-owned producer-distrib launched last year.

The new titles bring to 18 the total number of German- and English-language projects in the works at the company, which announced its first slate of 10 productions last August.

UFA execs Wolf Bauer, Thomas Peter Friedl, Nico Hofmann and Juergen Schuster selected the new titles from a total of 80 projects in active development.

“Fatherland” will be the second adaptation of the book: HBO produced a TV movie starring Rutger Hauer in 1994; and it won’t be the only Harris adaptation shooting in Germany: Roman Polanski is set to begin principal photography on “The Ghost,” starring Pierce Brosnan, in the coming weeks in the Berlin-Brandenburg region.

UFA’s other upcoming productions include “Prototyp” (Prototype), based on the comicbook of cult scribe Ralf Koenig (“Maybe… Maybe Not”). This retells the story of Adam and Eve, and how Adam eats from the tree of knowledge, begins to think, and becomes an atheist.

Also in the works is “Jesus liebt mich” (Jesus Loves Me), a romantic comedy based on the bestselling satirical novel by German author David Safier, about a woman in search of Mr. Right who ends up meeting the Messiah, or so she thinks.

And thirdly, there is the family film “Efraim Langstrumpf und die Kannibalen-Prinzessin” (Efraim Longstocking and the Cannibal Princess), inspired by the Astrid Lindgren’s tales of “Pippi Longstocking” and her adventurer father.

Also in the pipeline is “Niemandsland” (No Man’s Land), a love story set in communist East Germany from director Toke Constantin Hebbeln, who picked up the 2006 student Oscar for his debut film “Nevermore.”

Then there is “Tauben auf dem Dach,” a romantic comedy from writer-director Otto Alexander Jahrreiss about four big-city couples.

UFA also is producing two pics aimed at young auds, “Alles Emma — oder was?,” about the growing pains of a teenage girl and her friends; and “Die Teufelskicker,” about soccer-playing kids, from “More Ants in the Pants” helmer Granz Henman and co-produced by Phoenix Film.

The first UFA film to go into production will be Roland Suso Richter’s “Dschungelkind” (Jungle Child), a biography of Christian missionaries who move to Papua New Guinea with their children to live with a Stone Age tribe. The adaptation of Sabine Kuegler’s bestseller is set to start shooting in the coming weeks.

Previously mentioned titles also include “The Physician,” based on Noah Gordon’s bestselling novel about an 11th century Englishman who travels to Persia to study medicine, and “The Weekend,” based on the book by Bernhard Schlink (“The Reader”), which explores the legacy of West Germany’s notorious Red Army Faction terrorist group.

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