Burhan Qurbani readies Berlin Alexanderplatz for an April release
by Bénédicte Prot
- In his modern-day adaptation of the novel, the director of We Are Young. We Are Strong follows an African refugee's descent into the Berlin underworld
The fourth feature by Burhan Qurbani, the acclaimed German director of Shahada (Faith) [+see also:
film profile] (2010) and We Are Young. We Are Strong [+see also:
film profile] (2014), is now in post-production, after a two-month shoot in Berlin, Stuttgart and Cologne, which wrapped at the end of July. His Berlin Alexanderplatz, an adaptation of the classic 1929 novel by Alfred Döblin, which famously became a TV series in 1980, courtesy of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, will reach German screens on 11 April next year (with Entertainment One Germany/eOne), most likely to leave the possibility open for a world premiere at one of the big winter festivals.
The script, co-penned by Qurbani and Martin Behnke (his collaborator on We Are Young. We Are Strong), transposes the original story (already made into a feature film once, by German director Phil Jutzi in 1931) to modern-day Berlin. The main character, 30-year-old Francis (Welket Bungué), is a refugee from Guinea-Bissau who finds himself in the German capital after illegally crossing the Mediterranean on a boat – ending up as the voyage’s sole survivor – and soon realises that making an honest living as a stateless refugee with no papers is virtually impossible. Francis first strives to stay on the right path, even after he meets the shady German drug dealer Reinhold (Albrecht Schuch), but the two men are “bound together by a cynical fate and destructive magnetism, friendship and betrayal, hatred and a dark eroticism, as well as by love and the abuse of this love” (to quote Qurbani's 2015 TFL AdaptLab notes), and Francis thus gets sucked into the Berlin underworld.
The cast of Berlin Alexanderplatz also includes Jella Haase (from the hit Suck Me Shakespeer [+see also:
interview: Jella Haase
film profile] franchise), Joachim Król and Annabelle Mandeng. The film was lensed by Yoshi Heimrath (who has handled the cinematography on Qurbani's films ever since Shahada). The movie is being produced by Sommerhaus Filmproduktion (Germany) in co-production with Lemming Film (Netherlands) and ZDF, in cooperation with ARTE, with the support of the German Film Board (FFA), the German Ministry of Culture and Media (BKM), the regional funds of Berlin-Brandenburg, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as Eurimages. The film’s international sales are managed by Beta Cinema.
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