Zodiak Belgium is teaming up with American producer René Asch’s Berlin-based Films in Motion to co-produce the feature film “Life Through a Dead Man’s Eyes,” about an aging Nazi concentration camp guard trying to evade capture by U.S. authorities.
For Zodiak Belgium, a subsidiary of Banijay Group, the project marks the first feature film co-production with a German producer.
“It perfectly fits where we want to go with the company: international co-productions with companies that we relate to and based on stories that we want to share with the world,” says Serge Bierset, Zodiak Belgium’s head of drama. “The story also relates to us and to our Belgian audience. We were part of the same terrible war in which a lot of Belgian, Flemish, Jewish and non-Jewish people became victims.”
The story follows an escaped 84-year old Nazi SS death camp guard who, suspecting he’s in danger of being apprehended by U.S. authorities for war crimes, assumes an unlikely identity and hides in the most improbable place.
Jo Baier (“The End Is My Beginning”) is set to direct the English-language film from a script by U.S. screenwriter J. Frank James. Matthias Habich (“Berlin Syndrome”), Herbert Knaup (“In Darkness”) and Silke Bodenbender (“Wild”) lead the cast.
Ash and Bierset are aiming to finance “Life Through a Dead Man’s Eyes” through the German Federal Film Board and Germany’s regional funds with support from the Belgium Tax Shelter and that country’s funds. Asch and Bierset are executive producing the film, which is currently budgeted at €2.25 million ($2.76 million). Munich-based Morefilms is handling international sales for the title.
Bierset says Zodiak Belgium is eager to increase co-productions with German and other international film producers. “It has been my conviction for years, as head of drama for ZodiakBelgium, that we should co-produce internationally more and more in the future, both TV dramas as well as feature films.”
While Zodiak Belgium focuses largely on TV content, it has produced and co-produced some mainstream and genre titles for its domestic market and is now seeking to “expand the range of projects towards other areas, like internationally co-produced auteur cinema, historical films or children’s stories,” Bierset said.
To that end, the company tries to meet producers at festivals and workshops throughout Europe and find mutually interesting projects. Zodiak Belgium is already collaborating with other international companies, including German producers, on TV productions.
Such cross-border collaborations are essential, particularly in view of growing competition from overseas, Bierset says. “I am sure in Europe it will strengthen all of us, especially since the industry is in constant change with players like Netflix and Amazon.”