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PRODUCTION / FUNDING Germany / Austria

Philipp Stölzl preparing an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s The Royal Game


- The film, entitled Schachnovelle, will star Oliver Masucci in the lead role, alongside Albrecht Schuch, Birgit Minichmayr, Rolf Lassgard and Samuel Finzi

Philipp Stölzl preparing an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s The Royal Game
Oliver Masucci in Schachnovelle (© StudioCanal/Julia Terjung)

Best known for having directed the alpine drama North Face [+see also:
film profile
, as well as commercially successful adaptations of Winnetou novels and music videos featuring the likes of Madonna and Rammstein, German filmmaker Philipp Stölzl is now working on a reinterpretation of Stefan Zweig’s literary classic The Royal Game.

Schachnovelle tells the story of lawyer Bartok, who, while on a cruise, recalls being imprisoned and tortured by the Nazis in Vienna. In 1938, Bartok gets arrested and taken to the Gestapo’s headquarters before he can flee to the USA with his wife. Because he refuses to cooperate with the Nazi officials and provide information about accounts that he manages, Bartok is sent into solitary confinement. A chess book helps him survive in captivity and overcome the mental suffering inflicted on him.

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Oliver Masucci was chosen to play the lead role in the upcoming film. Also among the cast are Albrecht Schuch, Birgit Minichmayr, Rolf Lassgard and Samuel Finzi, while Thomas Kiennast is on board as the cinematographer. Filming took place in Vienna last December and wrapped in Berlin and Potsdam at the beginning of March. Additional shooting was planned to take place in Munich starting on 9 March but was halted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schachnovelle is being produced by Germany’s Walker+Worm Film (Philipp Worm and Tobias Walker) in co-production with Austrian outfit Dor Film (Danny Krausz) and StudioCanal Film (Kalle Friz, Isabel Hund and Sandrine Mattes). StudioCanal is also handling world sales for the feature, which has received financial support from the FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Board (FFA), German Federal Film Fund (DFFF), Bayerischer Bankenfonds, FISA – Filmstandort Austria, ORF, the Austrian Film Institute and the Vienna Film Fund.

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