Menemsha takes docu ‘Prisoner’

Pic focuses on life of actor-director Gerron

Los Angeles-based distrib Menemsha Films will release Oscar-nominated docu feature “Prisoner of Paradise,” which chronicles the true story of a Jewish director ordered to make a Nazi propaganda film.

Helmed by Malcolm Clarke and Stuart Sender and exec produced by Jake Eberts, the docu traces the life and career of Kurt Gerron, an actor, director and cabaret performer of 1930s Germany, best known for his co-starring role in Josef von Sternberg’s “The Blue Angel” with Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings. He starred in the original production of Brecht & Weil’s “The Threepenny Opera” and was the first performer to sing the now-classic “Mack the Knife.”

Gerron was captured and sent to a concentration camp, where he was forced to write and direct a pro-Nazi film intended to whitewash the horrors of life in the camps. Pic was shot on location in Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna and Poland.

In addition to receiving an Oscar nomination earlier this year, the film was nominated for best docu of 2002 by the Directors Guild of America and, more recently, was named best doc by the Directors Guild of Canada.

Menemsha will open “Prisoner” Dec. 5 in New York and Dec. 12 in Los Angeles, with other key national markets to follow.

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