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Berlinale: German Director Thomas Stuber Embarks on TV Series ‘Im Stein’

German filmmaker Thomas Stuber, in competition at the Berlinale with romantic drama “In the Aisles,” has re-teamed with writing partner and author Clemens Meyer on a major TV project, a series adaptation of Meyer’s critically acclaimed novel “Im Stein” (“Bricks and Mortar”).

Described as Meyer’s most ambitious book to date, “Bricks and Mortar” tells the story of the sex trade in a big eastern German city, from the communist era just before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the present day. The novel charts the development of the industry from prohibition to legality, focusing on the rise and fall of a soccer hooligan-turned-property magnate who rents apartments to prostitutes.

Comparing it to Alfred Doeblin’s famed novel “Berlin Alexanderplatz” (itself adapted as a TV series in 1980 by the late Rainer Werner Fassbinder), literary critic Wiebke Porombka called the book “magnificent and dark” and “deeply moral precisely because it forgoes moral judgment.”

“That’s the most important thing we’re doing right now,” Stuber told Variety, adding that they are still at an early stage. “It’s a big, long story that is also set in the past. There’s more than one timeline, going back and forth. This is why it wouldn’t be good to make a feature from it and why we thought of a series.”

Stuber and Meyer previously collaborated on the director’s 2015 drama “A Heavy Heart” and this year’s “In the Aisles,” which is based on one of Meyer’s short stories.

“We have established this friendship and writing partnership,” Stuber said. “Like other writing couples, it’s a lot about talking — we talk all night, about God and everything, and then we come to the story.”

Stuber described Meyer as a “film maniac” whose approach is different from professional screenwriters. “He focuses very precisely on characters, what they wear, what they talk like, what they say, how this looks, how that looks. I come from the other side, and it fits very well together.”

Stuber is currently in post-production on the upcoming TV feature “Kruso,” an UFA Fiction production for ARD’s Das Erste, based on the novel by Lutz Seiler, about a community of free thinkers on the former East German island of Hiddensee shortly before the collapse of the country’s communist government.

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