×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.”

More Film

  • Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali, right)

    Read Variety's 1957 Review of 'Green Book' Pianist Don Shirley

    “Green Book” viewers who are not totally versed in the ways of ’50s and ’60s jazz may come away from the heavily Oscar-nominated movie wondering just how well known and respected the film’s central musical figure, Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali), really was in his heyday. The answer: revered enough to have picked up [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Steven Spielberg Remembers 'Friend and Early Mentor' Stanley Donen

    As news of the death of prolific director Stanley Donen spread Saturday, the industry was quick to remember the helmer of so many classic musicals. Donen directed such hits as “Singin’ in the Rain,” co-directed with and starring Gene Kelly; “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn; and “Charade,” with Hepburn and Cary Grant. “Stanley Donen was [...]

  • Aubrey Plaza Spirit Awards

    How to Watch the 2019 Spirit Awards Online

    The Spirit Awards are taking over television Saturday from Santa Monica, Calif., but viewers don’t need a TV to tune in. Hosted by “Parks and Recreation” star Aubrey Plaza, this year’s Spirit Awards are set to air on IFC at 2 p.m. PT and again on Feb. 24 at 9 p.m. ET. However, indie lovers [...]

  • Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

    Oscars, After Repeated Tumbles, Take Center Stage in Hollywood

    At least the weather will be sunny for Sunday afternoon’s Oscars ceremony following one of the stormiest —  and strangest — awards seasons in memory. Expectations have been turned upside down in key categories amid a historic lack of consensus among guild and critics groups. The 91st Academy Awards will be the first in three [...]

  • Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night

    Box Office: 'How to Train Your Dragon 3' Speeding to Series-Best Debut With $58 Million

    Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is far and away the box office champ for Academy Awards weekend with an estimated debut of $58 million from 4,259 North American locations. Three holdovers and an expansion will make up the other top four spots, with the sophomore frame of sci-fier “Alita: Battle Angel” [...]

  • Stanley Donen

    Stanley Donen, Director of Iconic Movie Musicals, Dies at 94

    Stanley Donen, the director of such stylish and exuberant films as “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Funny Face” and “Two for the Road” and the last surviving helmer of note from Hollywood’s golden age, has died at 94. The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips tweeted that one of his sons had confirmed the news to him. Confirmed [...]

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content