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German comedy “I’m Off Then” Makes Market Bow at AFM

“I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago” has become one of this year’s most anticipated German films.

The pic is based on the hugely successful book of the same name by Hape Kerkeling, a comedian, actor and singer whose film and television career spans more than two decades and who stands as one of Germany’s most beloved TV entertainers. The film is directed by Julia von Heinz and produced by UFA Cinema. Sold internationally by Global Screen, it makes its market debut at AFM.

“I’m Off Then” traces Kerkeling’s existential crisis following a sudden hearing loss and a gall bladder operation, which led him to take a long break in 2001 and find physical and spiritual rehabilitation on a pilgrimage Spain’s famed path to Santiago de Compostela.

“This pilgrimage was the craziest, and at the same time most sensible, thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Kerkeling says.

The book went on to sell more than 5 million copies, making it the bestselling German nonfiction book in the past 70 years, and it has been published around the globe.

Von Heinz says one key to cracking the difficult adaptation was the casting of Devid Striesow, who she says not only resembles Kerkeling but also shares his humor.

Producer Nico Hofmann adds that early test screenings confirmed what he wanted from the film: “That it will open up viewers. After the film’s 90 minutes, they should be looking at life with renewed curiosity.”

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