“Gangs of London” producer Pulse Films has teamed with Oscar-winning “Man on Wire” director James Marsh on an ambitious four-part series that uncovers the history of Berlin through the prism of its iconic football club Hertha BSC.
“Welcome to Berlin” (working title), which is now going into production, is billed as an all-access account of Hertha BSC throughout the upcoming 2020-21 Bundesliga season that also combines a historical perspective of Berlin that spans the 19th-21st centuries. Founded in 1892, the club’s history is inextricably linked to the city and its evolution.
Securing highly coveted access to the club, the series follows drama on and off the pitch as Hertha BSC comes off a tumultuous season that saw the team rise from relative obscurity to grab national and international headlines when enigmatic world financier Lars Windhorst invested $500 million for what will be a 66% stake in the club — marking the biggest investment to date in German football. Meanwhile, adding more complexity is the fact that coach Bruno Labbadia is the fourth head coach of the season.
“We’re making a document for posterity” said executive producer Marsh, whose directing credits span both documentary (“Project Nim”) and fiction (“The Theory of Everything”).
“These are the most turbulent times humanity has encountered in generations so it’s a privilege to capture this new reality within the city that has experienced more change than any other in the last three centuries. I am also a big football fan and the window that Hertha Berlin BSC offers to tell the story of their upcoming next season, and to connect it to the times we live in, and their own history since their founding in 1892 is beyond exciting.”
The Pulse Films production will be directed by Lee Hicken, who created Amazon’s six-part docuseries “Take Us Home: Leeds United,” narrated by Russell Crowe. Meanwhile, Greggers Sail, the BAFTA-winning editor of “Senna,” is also on board to edit the series.
Executive producers include Marsh, as well as Marisa Clifford and Thomas Benski of Pulse Films, who recently produced Sky drama “Gangs of London” and Apple TV Plus’ “Beastie Boys Story.” Also involved is Esteban Apraez, who is the series creator.
Apraez, who previously helmed ESPN’s hit “Capitals of Football” docuseries, highlighted, “Because of the time we live in and the subject matter we’re tackling I believe ‘Welcome to Berlin’ has all the elements to become an era defining contemporary cultural tale. Of the Western world, of Germany, of modern football, brought into context through hundreds of hours of archival footage and research that links our past to our present in the hope of transforming our future.”
Hicken said, “Berlin is and always has been, one of the most exciting cities on earth and Hertha Berlin BSC is one of the most interesting football projects in Europe right now. We have the right elements here to create something very special and something unique in the documentary landscape.”
Clifford of Pulse Films added: “The scope of this project speaks to the core of our studio’s mission, to tell stories that create moments of culture and resonate with audiences worldwide.”
Paul Keuter, member of the management board for Hertha BSC, said the club was “excited to collaborate with such an accomplished creative team on this ambitious project, giving fans and audiences around the world a unique view of our club and our city.”