“Center of My World,” a coming-of-age drama by emerging Austrian auteur Jakob M. Erwa, has closed key sales deals for the U.S. and France ahead of its U.S. premiere next week at the Palm Springs Festival.
In pacts struck by Maren Kroymann’s Berlin-based M-Appeal, TLA Releasing has acquired distribution rights for the U.S. and Paris-based Outplay for France. TLA Releasing is a classic American label for LGBT titles. Outplay’s previous acquisitions for France include Antony Hickling’s “Where Horses Go To Die” and Javier Fuentes-Leon’s “Undertow.”
Universum released “Center of My World” in Germany on Nov. 10. In other deals, Arti Film has signed on to handle theatrical distribution in Benelux, while Creative Century Entertainment Co. has acquired rights for Taiwan.
“Center of My World” is based on a celebrated 1998 lyrical novel by Germany’s Andreas Steinhofel, a writer who has attempted to elevate YA and children’s books to the level of serious literature. Steinhofel’s novel was the first so-called children’s book to hit magazine Der Spiegel’s list of bestsellers.
Phil, its 17-year-old protagonist, is a high-school student who returns from summer camp to discover his mother and sister are no longer on talking terms. Unwilling to confront his family, he hangs out with best friend Kat.
Back at school, however, he is smitten by a new student with pin-up looks, Nicholas, who returns his feelings. When their dream relationship proves volatile and Phil realizes he has met Nicholas before, way back in his childhood, Phil realizes he needs to deal with unresolved issues in his family past in order to move forward.
Also written by Erwa, “Center of My World” captures the turmoil of young adulthood and the challenge of coming into one’s own as a person. Past family traumas are a barrier to that transformation.
With well-received lead performances by Louis Hofmann (“Land of Mine,” “Sanctuary”), a Berlinale 2017 European Shooting Star, and Jannik Shuemann, “Center of My World” is Erwa’s first movie with a name cast and a bigger budget. It world premiered at the Munich Film Festival last July before receiving its international premiere at the Moscow Festival. “Center of My World” shared the best feature film award at the Florence Queer Festival.
Erwa launched production outfit Mojo Pictures in Germany in 2003 and debuted with his graduation feature, 2007’s “All the Invisible Things,” about adolescents swimming between childhood and adulthood, which won the Grand Diagonale Award for best Austrian film and the German Independence Award for best German feature. Screening in the Berlinale’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino in 2015, Erwa’s follow-up, psychodrama “Homesick,” turned on an ambitious young cellist (Esther Maria Pietsch) who, practicing for hours for an international competition, notices her neighbors’ increasing prying. Channeling echoes of Polanski’s home-alone chillers and of Haneke, “Homesick” was feted as a singularity: a German genre movie with international market potential.