Constantin Film is adapting German author Ferdinand von Schirach’s international bestseller “The Collini Case,” a legal thriller that deals with Germany’s Nazi past and that was inspired by the author’s own family history.
Elyas M’Barek (pictured), of “Fack ju Göhte” fame and one of Germany’s leading actors, toplines the film, “Der Fall Collini,” which is being directed by Marco Kreuzpaintner from a screenplay by Christian Zuebert, Robert Gold and Jens-Frederik Otto. M’Barek plays an attorney who takes on a defendant accused of the vicious murder of a respected elderly businessman. In researching the case, the young lawyer comes across one of the biggest judicial scandals in German history and a truth that nobody wants to face.
Alexandra Maria Lara (“You Are Wanted”) and Heiner Lauterbach (“Welcome to Germany”) also star in the courtroom drama, which is shooting this year for a 2019 release via Constantin. Christoph Müller, Kerstin Schmidbauer and Marcel Hartges are producing, with Constantin CEO Martin Moszkowicz serving as executive producer.
Von Schirach’s 2011 book reflects aspects of his own family history. The author has spoken publicly about his late grandfather, Baldur von Schirach, a Nazi leader who headed the Hitler Youth and served as Reich governor of Vienna, where he oversaw the deportation of thousands of Jews. Convicted of crimes against humanity in the Nuremberg trial, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In a 2011 essay published in Der Spiegel magazine, von Schirach discussed “The Collini Case” and its theme of generational guilt, noting that in his book he writes “about postwar justice, about the courts in the Federal Republic of Germany that judged cruelly, about the judges who imposed only five minutes’ imprisonment for every murder committed by a Nazi perpetrator. It’s a book about the crimes in our state, about revenge, guilt and the things we still fail in today.”
Von Schirach’s works have also been adapted in the hit series “Schuld” (“Shades of Guilt”) and such feature films as Doris Dörrie’s “Glück” (“Bliss”).