Story turns on German submariners, native islanders

GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Josef Rusnak (“The 13th Floor”) is attached to write, with a view to direct, historical thriller “Arijuna.”

Originally set up at Germany’s Motivo Films and Colombia’s Tonal Entertainment, “Arijuna” will now be produced by Berlin-based Barry Films, which also has operations in Los Angeles and Zurich.

Rusnak will rewrite the original screenplay by Colombian scribe Jorg Hiller (“A Ton of Luck”) and Motivo producer Maja Zimmermann. Barry’s Benito Mueller and Wolfgang Mueller, Zimmermann and Hiller take producer credits.

Fact-based “Arijuna” turns on a German WWII U-boat mission to bomb the Panama Canal. After an attack by an Allied destroyer, five submariners are stranded on an island paradise, meet its Wayuu Indians and, said Rusnak, must decide whether to finish the job or save the lives of an innocent people. “The challenge in writing the screenplay is to turn this historical account into an entertaining film, full of heart, adventure and action,” Rusnak added.

“Arijuna” was originally budgeted at $3 million. Rusnak and Barry Films’ involvement now allows the producers to contemplate a bigger budget, better-known cast and an English-language shoot, Zimmermann said at Mexico’s Guadalajara Festival.

Barry can also tap into German DFFF rebates and regional funding. Shooting is skedded for within 12-18 months, she added.

Barry Films’ recent co-production credits include the Samuel Goldwyn-released “The Whistleblower,” with Rachel Weisz; Peruvian standout “Bad Intentions”; and France’s best first-film Cesar winner “When Pigs Have Wings.”

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