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German Hitmakers Are Back in Saddle for the Cannes Market

Historical romance, literary adaptations, arthouse drama, star-studded comedies, children’s pics, animated fare and a high-profile documentary are among the many German films and co-productions on offer at this year’s Cannes Film Market.

Unspooling as part of the festival are Wim Wenders’ “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word,” repped by Focus Features and bowing in Special Screenings; “In My Room,” Ulrich Koehler’s story of a man who suddenly realizes everyone around him has disappeared, which world premieres in Un Certain Regard; and, in Intl. Critics’ Week sidebar, Anja Kofmel’s Swiss co-production “Chris the Swiss,” a partially animated documentary from Urban Distribution that investigates the mysterious death of a young Swiss journalist during the Yugoslav wars.

On the market side, one historical niche that is proving particularly successful is that of the turn-of-the-century artist.

Picture Tree Intl. is following its 2016 hit “Egon Schiele — Death and the Maiden,” by Dieter Berner, with the Austrian helmer’s upcoming “Alma & Oskar.” Likewise set in Vienna’s illustrious world of art and music in the early 1900s, the fact-based drama explores the tumultuous relationship between Alma Mahler, widow of the renowned composer, and Austrian artist and enfant terrible Oskar Kokoschka.

The shelf life of such historical dramas “is just endless,” says Picture Tree co-managing director Andreas Rothbauer. “We know that with ‘Egon Schiele’ when we see the video figures and the TV sales.”

“Egon Schiele” has sold to more than 30 territories, including the U.S., where it was acquired by Film Movement. This year marks the anniversary of the Austrian painter’s death and that has boosted interest in the film.

“You can really keep selling it,” says Rothbauer. “It’s not like the regular arthouse film that has a festival and then half a year of sales. You have a brand in a way — it’s like branded entertainment.”

Picture Tree is also screening “Playmaker,” the Timon Modersohn drama about a former soccer player lured into the world of sports-betting and match-fixing, starring Frederick Lau (“Victoria”) and Antje Traue (“Man of Steel”); and “Outmastered,” Oskar Roehler’s dark comedy about a wealthy couple who welcome a slave into their household only to see chaos soon ensue.

Additionally, the company presents Florian Ross’ comedy-drama “A Jar Full of Life,” about a slacker inspired by her brother to hit the road and see the world; Ralf Huettner’s “Little King December,” based on Axel Hacke’s bestseller, about a man whose humdrum life is turned upside down when the imaginary friend of his childhood reappears; and Marie Kreutzer’s Austrian drama “The Ground Under My Feet,” about the troubled relationship between two sisters.

Having just swept the German Film Awards, including best picture and director, Emily Atef’s “3 Days in Quiberon,” about late actress Romy Schneider, which bowed at the Berlinale, is certain to generate buzz for Beta Cinema.

The company also presents “Two Men in Suits,” actor-director Josef Bierbichler’s adaptation of his autobiographical novel about a rural Bavarian community, tracing some 70 years of cross-generational German history, including the two world wars. Other Beta titles include Nikolaus Leytner’s “The Tobacconist,” starring Bruno Ganz and based on Robert Seethaler’s novel about the friendship between Sigmund Freud and a young man during the Nazi occupation of Vienna; Sven Taddicken’s drama “The Most Beautiful Couple”; and “Lara” from “A Coffee in Berlin” director Jan-Ole Gerster.

Global Screen showcases aging Hollywood in Uli Gaulke’s documentary “Sunset Over Mulholland Drive,” about the glamorous residents of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The company is also screening its two other major titles, Marc Rothemund’s “This Crazy Heart,” a true story featuring German superstar Elyas M’Barek (“Fack ju Göhte”) as a young man who befriends a teenage boy suffering from a heart problem, and Ozgur Yildirim’s gangster film “Only God Can Judge Me,” starring Moritz Bleibtreu.

Kids’ pics and animated films are again making a strong showing, with dragons, elves and enchanted realms all the rage.

Timeless Films is looking to bedazzle buyers with “Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver,” Dennis Gansel’s box office hit based on the book by Michael Ende (“The Neverending Story”), and Tomer Eshed’s upcoming “Dragon Rider,” an animated adaptation of Cornelia Funke’s fantasy novel.

In Global Screen’s “Bayala,” two elf princesses embark on a journey to bring magic back to their land with the help of a dragon egg.

And the gang is back for a paleontological adventure in “The Famous Five and the Valley of Dinosaurs,” Mike Marzuk’s latest entry in the hugely popular live-action franchise based on Enid Blyton’s book series, presented by Beta Cinema.

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