×

Alicia Scherson Adapts Roberto Bolaño’s ‘Third Reich’ in ‘1989’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Exploring the world of men and war, project has been selected for San Sebastian’s 2017 Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum

SANTIAGO DE CHILE — Teaming up with producer Isabel Orellana at Araucaria Cine (“Nunca vas a estar solo”), Alicia Scherson (“Family Life,” “Il Futuro”) is tackling the world of men for the first time in her second adaptation of a Roberto Bolaño novel after “Il Futuro,” her 2013 screen adaptation of the Chilean novelist’s “Una Novelita Lumpen.”

“Most of my films have displayed a more female perspective; it was a challenge to immerse myself in the world of a male, one obsessed with war games, to boot,” said Scherson.

After struggling with the script for a year, changing the original setting from Spain in Bolaño’s novel “The Third Reich” to Chile made all its disparate elements fall into place.

Scherson’s “1989” takes place in Chile during a time of transition after military dictator Augusto Pinochet has stepped down but before a democratic government has established itself.

“It’s a time of great uncertainty, the Berlin Wall has fallen and ‘1989’ picks up on that atmosphere, with a tone akin to that of Roman Polanski’s ‘The Tenant’ or the Coen Brother’s ‘Barton Fink,’” she said.

One of the 16 titles selected for San Sebastian’s 2017 Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, “1989” turns on a German tourist, Udo Berger, who visits Chile with his girlfriend. He is obsessed with the board game, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” of which he is a champion in Germany. They hang out with an Argentine couple until the Argentine man disappears at sea. Berger stays in Chile to find out what happened, encountering some shady characters in the process, led by the mysterious El Quemado (The Burnt One). The story “turns into a psychological thriller but without losing its humor,” said Orellana, who added that the project has an initial budget of €700,000 ($823,000) “but this could rise depending on the international cast.”

“1989” has a German lead as well as Argentine and Chilean characters. This opens up the possibility of a participation from Germany, Argentina and Chile and from a fourth country as the enigmatic ‘El Quemado’ could be of any nationality,” she noted. “We’re also interested in approaching television networks and potential partners in Nordic territories or the Netherlands,” said Orellana.

This is the first director-producer collaboration between Scherson and Orellana, who was, ironically, Scherson’s student at the University of Chile where Scherson is an associate professor.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Curveball

    'Curveball': Film Review

    Farce is not a genre we commonly associate with the Germans, but then, as “Curveball” reminds us at the outset, this wildly atypical Teutonic satire — which plays like a cross between “Wag the Dog” and “Dr. Strangelove” in its portrayal of incompetence at the highest levels — is “A true story. Unfortunately.” More mea [...]

  • Minions Rise of Gru

    'Minions: Rise of Gru,' 'Sing 2' Release Dates Pushed Back, 'Wicked' Indefinitely Delayed

    Universal Pictures is shaking up its release calendar, setting new dates for Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Sing 2.” The “Minions” sequel will now hit theaters next summer, on July 2, 2021. “Sing 2,” originally set to open on that date, has been pushed to Dec. 22, 2021, leaving “Wicked,” an adaptation of [...]

  • Former Hulu Chief Jason Kilar Named

    Former Hulu Chief Jason Kilar Named CEO of WarnerMedia

    Former Hulu chief Jason Kilar has been named CEO of WarnerMedia, giving him oversight of Warner Bros., HBO, the Turner cable assets and the company’s nascent HBO Max streaming platform. Kilar succeeds John Stankey, who was upped in September to AT&T president and chief operating officer. Kilar’s name had surfaced as a contender for the [...]

  • Cargo

    'Cargo': Film Review

    Another word for “Cargo,” a truly unique blend of Hindu mythology and mid-concept science fiction about a futuristic new process by which the recently deceased are beamed onto a spaceship far away in order to have their memories wiped and their souls cleansed for reincarnation, might be “baggage” — as in, dead people show up [...]

  • HTC Headset

    Taiwan Launches Int'l Grant Scheme to Boost VR Content Production

    Taiwan has launched a grant scheme to boost the island’s status as a global hub for virtual reality production. It is offering finance to projects co-produced by companies established in Taiwan and internationally, but excluding those from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. The three-year Immersive Content Grant for International Joint Ventures or Co-Productions under [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content