BERLIN — When news breaks that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, a Berlin family is among the many taking flight. In the next eight days, their struggle for survival will probe deeper questions about what binds them, and what might tear them apart.
Created by Rafael Parente and Peter Kocyla, “8 Days” is directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky and Michael Krummenacher featuring an ensemble cast. The Berlinale Series selection, which world premieres as part of Drama Series Days’ Market Screenings on Feb. 13, is produced by Neuesuper for Sky Germany. World sales are handled by Sky Vision.
Co-creator and showrunner Parente spoke with Variety about the inspiration behind the series, how his characters react in the face of calamity, and whether a world wiped out by an asteroid can dust itself off for Season 2.
The series begins with news that an asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and there are just eight days left before Europe is wiped out. What sets this apart from your typical disaster series?
In the end, it’s a really character-driven drama. What are you going to do with your last eight days? I think what’s the difference with a classical catastrophe movie or action-superhero movie is that the characters are not heroes. They can’t do anything about the situation. They will not be able to save the world. That creates a lot of empathy. As an audience, you’re very close to the characters. It could be you.
You started developing this show eight years ago. Now we live in a world that seems to be on the brink of its own version of apocalypse. Do you think ‘8 Days’ is even better suited to the world we live in today?
So much has changed in the past eight years. We’re dealing with the question of what happens to society when it stops sticking to its rules. In my life, I was born in 1983, and for me, you would never touch and question these basic rules, these basic institutions. The U.N., human rights. There were a lot of hypocrites, a lot of people who were saying and doing something different—politicians and companies. But it was always something that is totally black and white. There’s a right and wrong. Now we live in a world where people tend more and more to question if these rules are right, or if they’re eternal. From a different angle, it really discusses the question what would happen if society would lose all these rules.
I don’t know if our show is totally realistic, but that’s not the issue. It’s more about what could happen, and to think about that. It’s an experiment, a society experiment. That makes it more than just a catastrophe film.
An asteroid wiping Europe off the face of the earth doesn’t seem to leave a lot of options for Season 2. Is there a way to move this series forward and take it beyond the first season?
If you ask me if there’s room for a second season, I would say yes. Because I talked to a lot of scientists, and did a lot of research. There are ten scientists working for the European space network that are paid to think about what they would do if an asteroid were to appear. Because it happened, it happened a lot of times. I think just last year, an asteroid came by earth that was closer than the moon. In the universe, that’s very close. But he told me that if something like that happened, we’re not like the dinosaurs. We might survive. It would be a severe, extreme catastrophe, but still: We can make bunkers, we can conserve food, we have electricity. But he told me, ‘Some of us might survive the impact, but the question is do you want to survive the impact?’ Because what happens after that? That’s a nice thought for Season 2.
You started the production company Neuesuper with Simon Amberger and Korbinian Dufter. It’s a young company with a rising profile in the German industry. How do you think your company stands out?
We started our company from film school. It was just the three of us. We did short films, and then we progressed from there. I think what makes our series – not only ‘8 Days,’ but also ‘Hindafing,’ which was nominated for all the prizes last year – what makes them special is that people tell us our shows are very timely, and they’re very refreshing. And I think that’s because we don’t have a boss who’s not in our generation. We make a lot of mistakes, too. But because it’s like a start-up, I think that makes all our themes we deal with, and the stories we tell, not only unique, but also very clear in their tone and mood.