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Germans page literature-based pics

Filmmakers delve into Third Reich, adaptations

BERLIN — Beloved literary adaptations and a continuing fascination with the Third Reich remain evident in a number of upcoming German productions, but a slew of Teutonic filmmakers are eagerly exploring more psychological issues, such as the emotional impact of love, longing and obsession.

Pics based on popular books are usually surefire hits here, and not just quirky laffers like screwball comedy “Warum Maenner nicht zuhoeren und Frauen schlecht einparken” (Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps) and “Vollidiot” (Complete Idiot), but also gothic thrillers like “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,” psycho-sexual dramas such as “The Elementary Particles,” and even the Adolf Hitler pic “Downfall,” all of which enjoyed boffo box office success after dominating the bestselling lists.

Germany’s Nazi past remains hot material for local and international filmmakers, from Oscar-winning director Stefan Ruzowitzky (“The Counterfeiters”), Marc Rothemund (“Sophie Scholl: The Final Days”) and Oliver Hirschbiegel (“Downfall”) to Bryan Singer (“Valkyrie”) and Quentin Tarantino (“Inglorious Bastards”).

One upcoming film examines the bitter consequences of World War II for millions of Germans. Slovak-born helmer Georg Juraj Herz is gearing up to direct “Habermanns Muehle” (Habermann’s Mill), , for Karel Dirka’s Munich-based Art-Oko Film.

Based on the novel by Josef Urban, pic follows the plight of a German businessman and his half-Jewish wife who face Nazi persecution and later further turmoil as German refugees are forced to flee the lost Sudetenland territory in former Czechoslovakia following the war.

Budgeted at x3.6 million ($5.7 million), “Habermanns Muehle” is set to star Hannah Herzsprung (“Four Minutes,” “The Reader”), Mark Waschke (“Buddenbrooks”), David Kross (“The Reader”) and Ben Becker; pic is scheduled to lense early next year in the Czech Republic.

Munich-based Entertainment Value Associates is handling international rights for the film, which recently received nearly $1 million in funding from Bavarian state subsidy org FFF.

The phenomenon of fascism’s ability to seduce good men is showcased in Vicente Amorim’s upcoming drama “Good,” starring Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs, which is premiering at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Produced by Ludwigsburg-based Miromar Entertainment and the U.K.’s Good Films, the pic is an adaptation of C.P. Taylor’s play about a professor/family man whose literary work inadvertently endears him to Nazi leaders.

Reaching further back into European history, Jo Baier (“Operation Valkyrie”) is set to direct “Henry IV,” an adaptation of Heinrich Mann’s magnus opus about the 16th-century French king who managed to unite the country after the long and bloody Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants.

Moritz Bleibtreu (“Der Baader Meinhof Komplex”), Ulrich Noethen (“Downfall”), August Diehl (“Dr. Aleman”) and Katharina Thalbach (“The Manns”) star in the Ziegler Film production, which has received $5.6 million from regional and federal film subsidies.

Meanwhile, a number of local filmmakers are looking less at history and more at the inner workings of the human psych.

Matthias Glasner is currently shooting “This Is Love” in Saigon. The romantic drama, which will also shoot in Berlin, stars Corinna Harfouch (“Berlin Calling”), Juergen Vogel (“The Wave”) and Devid Striesow (“The Counterfeiters”).

Pic is the first project to come out of Glasner and Vogel’s recently launched Badlands Film shingle. Kinowelt is set to release “This Is Love” next year.

Harfouch also stars in Hannes Stoehr’s DJ drama “Berlin Calling,” which is celebrating its world premiere at the Locarno Film Festival next month.

Pic tells the story of a hugely successful electronic music composer and disc jockey who has toured the world’s top clubs and is about to release a new record when a near overdose lands him in a mental rehab center.

Stoehr wrote and directed the film, which was produced by Berlin-based Sabotage Films and Stoehrfilm. Pic also stars Paul Kalkbrenner and Rita Lengyel.

A journey from Germany to the U.K. is at the heart of Marie Reich’s coming-of-age tale “Summertime Blues.” Up-and-coming young heartthrob Francois Goeske (“Treasure Island”) stars as a dejected 15-year-old dealing with his parents’ separation and forced move from his home town of Bremen to southern England, where he meets two girls who change his outlook and his life. Pic, which is shooting on location in Germany and the U.K. through August, is produced by Uschi Reich, Bavaria Film and Bremedia Prod.

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