Berlin-based Flare Film is continuing its focus on international productions with German filmmaker Bastian Günther’s “Avalanche,” which just wrapped principal photography in Louisiana.
The timely social drama, which stars Carrie Preston (“Claws”) and British thesp Joe Cole (“A Prayer Before Dawn”), is set in America’s troubled social and cultural environment and explores the caustic repercussions of extreme capitalism that exploits underprivileged people for profit and entertainment.
The story follows the marketing manager of a small-town car dealership, played by Preston, who organizes an endurance contest in which 20 down-on-their-luck contenders compete to win a new pickup truck, and a young contestant (Cole) hoping for a better life.
The drama marks producer and Flare Film managing director Martin Heisler’s third collaboration with Günther after his debut feature, “Autopilots,” and his 2013 Sundance screener “Houston,” which was likewise set in the U.S.
“Avalanche” is produced by Heisler and Los Angeles-based co-producer Peter Veverka, with Jeanine Rohn executive producing.
Originally established in 2008 as Lichtblick Media, the company changed its name last year to Flare Film, reflecting not only its split from former sister company Lichtblick Film in Cologne but also the firm’s increasing focus on international productions, says Heisler, who also produced U.S. filmmaker Chad Hartigan’s 2017 coming-of-age comedy-drama “Morris from America,” which likewise premiered in Sundance.
The new name also followed the company’s growth in personnel and an overall increase in projects, from German and English-language productions to documentaries and TV series. The move was a kind of relaunch, Heisler notes.
The company’s focus on international films is due in part to the close relationships with filmmakers such as Günther, whose works have had international angles and which in turn have led to other projects, like “Morris from America.”
As a German producer coming from an industry that enjoys generous film subsidies, Heisler says the opportunity of making a film in the U.S. and combining these two extremely different worlds was hugely attractive.
Flare Film holds North American rights for “Avalanche,” which Match Factory is handling in the rest of the world. “That’s the overall plan behind the financial structure,” Heisler notes.” Leipzig-based Weltkino is releasing the film in Germany.
Flare Film has produced a number of films this year, including Barbara Ott’s debut feature “Kids Run,” starring Jannis Niewöhner (“Beat”), about a young boxer struggling to retain custody of his kids; and Florian Aigner’s “Im Niemandsland” (“Love Between the Walls”), a love story set in 1990 Berlin, between the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.
This summer the company also shot veteran producer Florian Koerner von Gustorf’s directorial debut, “Was gewesen wäre” (“What Might Have Been”), an adaptation of Gregor Sander’s novel about a middle-aged couple, played by Christiane Paul and Ronald Zehrfeld, who spend a fateful weekend in Budapest.
Set to shoot next year is the international production “The Way We Were,” a hybrid science fiction documentary from “This Ain’t California” director Marten Persiel in which a young man in 2051 investigates the mass extinction of species around the globe.
Also set for 2019 is Christoph Röhl’s documentary “Defenders of the Faith,” which examines the long and impactful career of Joseph Ratzinger, who eventually became Pope Benedict XVI.
On the TV front, the company is developing “Astroland,” a series based on Thomas Pletzinger’s much-lauded novel “Funeral for a Dog” that focuses on various characters and their relationships in a globe hopping story that will take viewers from Berlin to New York, Brazil and Finland.