Teuton helmer visits the seedy side of life

$15 mil pic to start shooting in May

BERLIN — Roland Emmerich has tapped young German director Marco Kreuzpaintner (“Summer Storm”) to helm “Girls Next Door” for his new Munich-based shingle Reelmachine.

The $15 million pic, based on a New York Times Magazine story about the worldwide trafficking in sex slaves, is set to start shooting in May.

Teutonic film financier VIP is backing the film, part of a slate that includes mammoth-hunter adventure “10,000 Years B.C.” and “Soul of the Age,” being penned by John Orloff. Latter is an Elizabethan-era political thriller about the “real” author of William Shakespeare’s works.

Emmerich, who took a break from his Berlinale jury prexy duties to introduce the new company, described Reelmachine as a financing tool to more easily produce films and present major studios with realized projects, adding that the studios remained vital for international distribution.

Based on a script by Oscar-nominated scribe Jose Rivera (“The Motorcycle Diaries”), “Girls Next Door” will focus on a Moldavian girl pressed into sex slavery after being promised a better life in America; a Mexican girl who is abducted and forced into prostitution; and her brother, who tries to save her.

Kreuzpaintner said Emmerich offered him the project after the helmer saw last year’s “Summer Storm,” a gay coming-of-age story that was a critical hit at home and generated positive buzz on the fest circuit.

After an audience prize at the Munich Film Festival, it was well received at Toronto. Here! Films picked up North American rights.

Emmerich said he’s keen to back young German talent, adding that a new generation of filmmakers had turned Teutonic cinema around. “There is incredible talent in this country. Hollywood doesn’t realize what it’s missing.”

Ossi von Richthofen, Emmerich’s Reelmachine partner, added: “Everything we’re doing is young and fresh. We’re sending a signal that there are financial possibilities here for new and interesting projects.”

VIP is backing Reelmachine’s initial projects via its $500 million VIP 4 fund.

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