For Jakob and Jonas Weydemann, “Systemsprenger” (“System Crasher”), a social drama about a troubled young girl caught in the revolving door of Germany’s child welfare services, is exactly the kind of film the sibling producer duo is keen to make.
Nora Fingscheidt’s feature film debut, which screens in competition in Berlin, explores the difficult and timely social issue of children who fall through the system while at the same telling a human story about a little girl seeking only to be with her mother.
Since launching their company, Weydemann Bros., in 2012, the team has striven to make films that are socially relevant. While their works often deal with societal issues, they are not necessarily front and center.
Sarah Winkenstette’s forthcoming “Zu weit weg,” for example, is a children’s film about the friendship between a German boy who has to leave his village because it’s being razed to make way for brown coal mining, and a Syrian boy who came to Germany as a refugee. “Both of them are new in their school, and the outsiders and that’s why they become best friends,” Jakob explains. “It’s also relevant: it’s about the loss of your home, structural change, lignite mining and refugees, but that’s all in the background. The film is for 10-year-olds, there’s lots of soccer; it’s a buddy movie about friendship.”
Next up for the company is “Schoko,” Sarah Blasskiewitz’s debut feature, a light-hearted drama about an African-German woman who meets the half-sister she never knew she had following the death of their African father. The film is set to shoot in Leipzig this summer.
The Weydemanns, who have offices in Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg, work regularly with young filmmakers on their first, second and third features. Many of their collaborators are foreign directors who have found a home in Germany, such as American helmer Damian John Harper, Moldovan filmmaker Ana-Felicia Scutelnicu and Uruguayan Carlos Morelli, whose family drama “Der Geburtstag” (“The Birthday”) premiered at this year’s Max Ophüls Prize Film Festival.
Harper’s “In the Middle of the River,” about a troubled Iraq vet in New Mexico seeking to avenge his sister, premiered last year at the Munich Film Festival, where it won best screenplay. The brothers also produced the director’s timely 2014 drama “Los Ángeles,” about a young Mexican in Oaxaca planning to move to California.
They are now developing his third feature, an adaptation of Scottish writer Mark McNay’s novel “Fresh,” about a chicken-processing factory worker forced to deal with his violent brother, who has been released from prison earlier than expected. Harper is transposing the story from its original Glasgow setting to Duisburg, Germany, for the film.
The Weydemanns have also teamed with Romania’s Cristian Mungiu to co-produce “Transit Times,” Scutelnicu’s upcoming drama centering on a family in Moldova during the country’s turbulent transition from a Soviet republic to an independent nation in the 1990s. The brothers also produced Scutelnicu’s critically acclaimed debut feature “Anishoara.”
While the company focuses primarily on feature films, it also produced Jakob Preuss’ award-winning 2017 documentary “When Paul Came Over the Sea,” which follows a Cameroonian migrant on his perilous journey to Europe.
In addition, the team is developing a cybercrime miniseries for television about sibling hackers who turn on each other when the sister joins an elite police unit to hunt down her brother.