Global Screen has closed a raft of sales for “The Conference,” a historically accurate drama about the Wannsee Conference in Berlin, a meeting that had only one item on the agenda: the organization of the systematic mass murder of 11 million European Jews.
The film has been acquired by Menemsha Films (North America), Pivot Pictures (Australia), The Klockworx (Japan), Swallow Wings (Taiwan), RAI (Italy), Flins & Piniculas (Spain), Films 4 You (Portugal), Arti Film (Benelux), Edge Entertainment (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Baltics), ITI Neovision (Poland), RTV (Slovenia), Italian-speaking Switzerland (RSI) and Red Cape (Israel).
At the invitation of Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Main Security Office, which included SiPo, the Gestapo and the Security Service, a meeting is held at midday on Jan. 20, 1942 in the villa at no. 58 Großen Wannsee. It lasts approximately 90 minutes and is attended by representatives of the SS, the Nazi party and several government ministries. There is one item on the agenda: the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Heydrich’s aim is for his leading role in the deportations to be recognized and to include important ministries and party officials in the preparations for the genocide of European Jews.
In a style that reminds the viewer of a business meeting, the men discuss the contentious issues of authority and jurisdiction for the operation, they make suggestions and raise objections in the interests of their own units, but overall declare themselves willing to cooperate, making these prominent men of the German state apparatus conspirators and accomplices.
Heydrich announces to the participants that on the “prior approval” of Adolf Hitler, all European Jews were to be deported to Eastern Europe.
Adolf Eichmann, head of the Judenreferat at the Reich Main Security Office, records the outcome of the meeting in a set of minutes. This date is to be the start of a program of deportation of Jewish people from all of German occupied and allied states to the extermination camps in Eastern Europe. Five days after the conference, Heydrich announces that the “preparation measures had been initiated.”
Neil Friedman, president, Menemsha Films comments: “The filmmakers’ authentic approach to the rendering of this event only underscores how easily this can happen again. This understated approach screams out to all of us to be constantly on ‘high alert.’ ”
Julia Weber, head of acquisitions and sales at Global Screen, adds: “This is a restrained, dramatic reconstruction of one of the most horrific events of the Third Reich – the technically orchestrated meeting to organize the killing of human beings on an industrial scale. Universally acclaimed by the press, ‘The Conference’ is a drama that global audiences should be aware of and will watch in disbelief. Ensuring nothing like this will happen again is our first obligation as global citizens.”
Written by Magnus Vattrodt (“The Witness House”), the film is directed by Matti Geschonneck (“In Times of Fading Light”), and produced by Reinhold Elschot and Friederich Oetker. Filmed on location at Lake Wannsee and in Berlin’s Unionfilm Studios, “The Conference” is executive produced by Oliver Berben at Constantin Film.
Geschonneck says: “We want to demonstrate what human beings are capable of. To show how the destruction of the entire Jewish population of Europe was discussed and organized in a soberly factual dialogue.”
Elschot adds: “The Wannsee Conference was another step towards the genocide of the Jews of Europe: the minutes on which the film is based show the complete dehumanization of Jews by the Nazi regime.”
Oetker says: “Our aim is to remind today’s audience of the persecution and murder of European Jews and the role The Conference played in the darkest chapter in German history.”
Global Screen will host two market screenings at the upcoming EFM (Feb. 13 at 4:10 p.m. Virtual Cinema 03 and Feb. 14 at 11:10 a.m. Virtual Cinema 10) and also offers an accompanying 45-minute documentary, “The Wannsee Conference – a Documentary,” directed by Jörg Müllner.