Riklis, Huston team up on ‘Playoff’

Pic centers around true tale of Israeli coach

Danny Huston will star in “Playoff,” a multilanguage drama based on the true tale of Israeli basketball coach Ralph Klein, a Holocaust survivor who took up an offer to coach the West German national basketball team in the 1980s.

Israeli helmer Eran Riklis, known for well-received pics, including “Lemon Tree” and “The Syrian Bride,” will direct.

Pic, mixing history and sports, is budgeted at $6.5 million and structured as a co-production between Germany’s Egoli Tossell Film, Israel’s Topia Communications and France’s Fidelite Films.

Elle Driver is selling the film, which will be released in Germany by Wild Bunch.

“My character speaks in Hebrew, German and English. So culturally it’s a real tapestry and a big challenge,” Huston said. “Plus, I have to play a little basketball and show off a little.”

Additional cast includes Amira Casar, Max Riemelt and Hanns Zischler.

“Both ‘The Bride’ and ‘The Lemon Tree’ were multilingual, so I think it’s a very nice way to approach films these days,” Riklis said.

Pic, which will start shooting in Germany in June, is still explosive material, especially in Israel, according to Egoli Tossell topper Jens Meurer.

“You’ve got this Israeli basketball hero training the West Germans,” Meurer said. “What the hell was he thinking?”

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