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PRODUCTION Germany

Wortmann takes over Pope Joan project

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Constantin Film AG has appointed Sönke Wortmann, known for his films on football (The Miracle of Bern, Germany. A Summer’s Fairytale), to direct Die Päpstin, an adaptation of Donna Cross’ bestselling novel Pope Joan, which sold 4 million copies in Germany.

Wortmann replaces Volker Schlöndorff, who was originally supposed to direct the project but pulled out in late July, having described it as “amphibian" (the film is being made for both cinema and television).

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There is nothing coincidental about Constantin’s new choice. As part of a three-year exclusive agreement (see news), the leading German outfit has been collaborating with Wortmann’s and Tom Spieß’s company, Little Shark Entertainment since spring.

Die Päpstin – which was expected to go into production in the first half of 2008 – recounts the legend of Johanna of Ingelheim, a young girl and flighty character said to have usurped the papacy in the ninth century by hiding her real gender under the aliases of John the English, John Anglicus and Pope John the Eighth.

Further publicity will certainly not do the centuries-disputed legend any harm. Franka Potente is expected to play the lead role.

(Translated from French)

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