German Filmmakers Look Beyond Their Borders

Producers embrace stories with international relevance

As German filmmakers continue to make their mark on global cinema, they increasingly embrace a film industry that transcends borders.

Indeed, only seven of the more than 30 German pics or co-productions screening at Toronto are in German.

Germany’s deep talent pool, skilled crews and high-quality facilities — not to mention generous production subsidies — have lured filmmakers from abroad to shoot in Germany or partner with German companies that excel in international co-productions.

At the same time, Teuton filmmakers are looking beyond their local market. “There is a group of German producers that would probably describe themselves as I do: International producers that happen to be based in Germany and that are looking to make films that have international relevance,” says Malte Grunert, head of Amusement Park Films.

Grunert co-produced Anton Corbijn’s “A Most Wanted Man” and Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner” as well as Nordisk Film Production’s World War II pic “Land of Mine” by Danish helmer Martin Zandvliet. “Mine” opens Toronto’s inaugural Platform competition section.

Florian Gallenberger’s “Colonia” (pictured) has just the kind of international relevance Grunert describes. The Special Presentation screener is a political thriller, set in the aftermath of the Chilean military coup in 1973. The subject matter helped draw a starry international cast, headlined by Daniel Bruehl, Emma Watson and Michael Nyqvist, to the project. Producer Benjamin Herrmann of Majestic Filmproduktion says it was a “fascinating story, an exceptional script and a visionary director” that enticed the actors.

Bruehl, who recently wrapped work on Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War,” welcomes, in particular, the growing ties between the German and U.S. film industries and the burgeoning interest among Americans for European subject matter. Bruehl adds that Germany’s well-regarded studio facilities, such as Studio Babelsberg, and topnotch crews play a significant role in the country’s popularity with foreign filmmakers. “I’ve never experienced that a producer, director or actor from abroad was not very happy when they filmed here.”

Another transnational German production screening at TIFF is Atom Egoyan’s “Remember,” starring Christopher Plummer. Berlin’s Egoli Tossell partnered with Toronto’s Serendipity Point Films to co-produce the film. While the production did not tap German subsidies, the partnership was crucial in securing top German talent, says Serendipity Point executive VP Mark Musselman.

Producer Gabrielle Dumon of Paris-based Le Bureau Films worked with Cologne-based Pandora Filmproduktion on Fabienne Berthaud’s “Sky,” a U.S.-set drama starring Diane Kruger and Norman Reedus. Pandora brought financing from German regional funder Filmstiftung NRW in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the film’s post-production took place. Together they were able to put together a “difficult financial structure for a low budget, with very few but solid financing partners,” says Dumon.

Gian-Piero Ringel, co-managing director Berlin-based Neue Road Movies and producer of Wim Wenders’ “Every Thing Will Be Fine,” says Germany has the framework to take a lead role in the development, production and distribution of quality films. “As German filmmakers, we have to make use of the amazing opportunities that are available to us … to make high-quality films that push the boundaries of the art form.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard – “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a comeback. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s “Breaking Bad” movie quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

  • Emma Stone Variety Actors on Actors

    First Look at Emma Stone in Disney's Live-Action 'Cruella' Drops

    Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil is significantly more punk rock than her animated counterpart. Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look of the titular character in Disney’s “Cruella” at D23 on Saturday, also revealing that it will take place in the punk rock era of the 1970s. In the first photo, Stone [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content