Netflix is making its first foray into German original films, unveiling a slate of three projects that it will produce with local film and TV powerhouses UFA, X Filme and ZDF.
In the lineup are “Betongold” (“Concrete Gold”), a fast-paced satire about the world of real estate from UFA Fiction; “Isi & Ossi,” a young-adult romcom from X Filme Creative Pool; and “Freaks,” a drama about a working-class mom with supernatural powers, from ZDF and Lüthje Schneider Hörl Film. The movies are set to start production this spring and will be released globally on Netflix from 2020.
The feature projects follow Netflix’s strong commitment to series in Germany, where it is currently producing a slew of shows, including supernatural hit “Dark” and gritty crime drama “Dogs of Berlin.”
“Concrete Gold,” written and directed by Cüneyt Kaya, follows three young real-estate grifters in Berlin, played by David Kross (“The Keeper”), Frederick Lau (“The Captain”) and Janina Uhse (“Good Times, Bad Times”), who amass absurd wealth through illegal financing schemes, only to get caught up in a maelstrom of lies, deceit and drugs. UFA Fiction’s Sebastian Werninger and Johannes Kunkel are producing.
“Netflix and UFA give me the opportunity of complete creative freedom for a film we can bring to a global audience,” said Kaya, whose credits include ZDFneo comedy series “Blockbustaz.” “This is extremely bold and groundbreaking for an uncompromising film like ‘Concrete Gold.’”
In “Isi & Ossi,” writer-director Oliver Kienle (“Bad Banks”) chronicles the relationship between a rich girl, played by Lisa Vicari (“Luna”), and a struggling young boxer, portrayed by Dennis Mojen, who set out to use each other for their own selfish ends, only for emotional chaos to ensue.
“Freaks” revolves around a working-class mother who discovers her supernatural powers when she stops taking her medication and proceeds to form a dysfunctional superhero team. The pic reunites the talent behind “Red Bracelets,” the hit German version of “Red Band Society”: director Felix Binder, writer Marc O. Seng (whose credits also include “Dark”) and actor Tim Oliver Schultz.
“Only Netflix would produce a genre-bending project like this,” said Binder. “They shared our enthusiasm for this extraordinary story immediately, and I am glad to have found a home for ‘Freaks’ here to tell an unexpected superhero story from Germany.”
Pubcaster ZDF has also been involved in the project since a very early stage.
Kai Finke, Netflix’s director of co-productions and acquisitions for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, said it was “especially thrilling for us to work with an exceptional group of artists, unconventional filmmakers and great producers on this slate of movies.”
Among new German shows set to stream on Netflix this year are “The Barbarians,” about Germanic warriors taking on Roman legions in AD 9; “Tribes of Europa,” which follows three siblings fighting to survive in an apocalyptic future; and “Don’t Try This at Home,” about two teenage friends who launch an online drug business.