Troubled Times Play Out in Teutonic Slate at AFM

Exploring wide-ranging global themes, from poverty, migration, political strife and fascism to art and romance, German sales companies are presenting an eclectic offering of local and international cinematic works at this year’s AFM.

Social dramas and political thrillers reflect both the current zeitgeist and historical parallels of similarly troubled times. In Marcus Lenz’s “Rival,” a 9-yearold Ukrainian boy travels to Germany to be with his mother, who has been forced to leave her country to work as an undocumented caretaker for an old man. Producers Gunter Hanfgarn and Andrea Ufer of Berlin-based Hanfgarn & Ufer say they were intrigued by Lenz’s story from the start, noting that it is “set against the backdrop of two problems we see in a lot of Western countries — the nursing crisis and poverty emigration.” Sold internationally by Pluto Film, “Rival” is screening at AFM following its world premiere at this year’s Busan Film Festival.

Pluto Film is also presenting Martina Saková’s children’s film “Summer Rebels” and Sonia Liza Kenterman’s Athens-set romantic drama “Tailor.”

In Yoav and Doron Paz’s fact-based postwar drama “Plan A,” a group of revenge-seeking Jewish Holocaust survivors set out to poison Germany’s water system and kill some six million Germans as payback. The Global Screen title stars August Diehl (“A Hidden Life”) and Sylvia Hoeks (“Blade Runner 2049”). Global Screen is also presenting another thriller based on a true story, Juan Ignacio Sabatini’s “Kill Pinochet,” about a group of communist guerrillas who plan to assassinate the Chilean dictator in 1986.

Julia von Heinz’s Venice screener “And Tomorrow the Entire World” is among a number of politically charged pics on offer from Films Boutique. The company is also presenting Andrei Konchalovsky’s Venice title “Dear Comrades!” about a devout Communist Party official in the Soviet Union who is forced to come to terms with state violence during a strike in 1962.

The immigrant experience is showcased in Matt Chambers’ “The Bike Thief” from Beta Cinema. The pic follows a young Romanian immigrant in London who loses the ability to provide for his family when his motorbike is stolen. Beta Cinema’s lineup also includes Peter Bebjak’s “The Auschwitz Report,” the true story of two Jews who escape from Auschwitz in 1944 with the hope of presenting evidence of their ordeal in order to save the lives of other inmates.

Oskar Roehler’s Cannes’ 2020 Official Selection “Enfant Terrible,” about legendary filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, is among Picture Tree Intl.’s highlights, as is Ziyang Zhou’s San Sebastian screener “Wuhai,” the sales company’s first Chinese title. PTI is likewise offering Charlotte Blom’s comedy “Diana’s Wedding,” which chronicles the life of a young woman whose parents celebrated their wedding in a small Norwegian town on the same day Lady Diana married Prince Charles in 1981.

In Arri Media Intl.’s “Cortex,” actor-director Moritz Bleibtreu stars as a troubled man haunted by recurring dreams. Moritz Hemminger, Arri’s deputy head of sales and acquisitions, describes the psychological thriller as “mind-bending and visually stunning.” The company is also presenting Christian Lerch’s “Dear Mr. Führer,” based on the childhood memories of scriptwriter Josef Einwanger. Set in Germany toward the end of World War II, the story follows a mother and her young son who seek refuge in a small village, only for the boy to become indoctrinated by still devout Nazis.

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