Dr. Alemán impresses Karlovy Vary audiences
by Theodore Schwinke
An audience of press and film professionals responded favorably to Tom Schreiber's Dr. Alemán [+see also:
film profile] in advance of the film's world premiere Tuesday night at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where the film is competing for the grand prize.
The film depicts Marc, a young German doctor performing his internship in Cali, Colombia. Played by August Diehl (The Counterfeiters [+see also:
film profile]), Marc rejects the bourgeois life of his fellow doctors and inserts himself into the slums, where he becomes tragically enmeshed in a gang power struggle.
The film had its origin in letters Schreiber received from a friend who worked as a doctor in Cali. Schreiber says the film is partly an allegory of the West's involvement in the developing world. "I always wanted to show that when people think they understand a foreign culture, that's when they really don't understand it," he said.
The German crew consisted of only Schreiber, Diehl, scriptwriter Oliver Keidel, producer Jörg Siepmann, and DOP Olaf Hirschberg. Cali-based production company Antorcha Film provided production services and crew of about 50.
The production used locals to provide security in the neighborhoods were the film shot, even establishing an understanding with local crime bosses. "You never know who owns the street from one day to the next. You have to speak to everyone," Siepmann said.
To capture the poverty and exuberance of the favella, Schreiber and his team shot on real locations, including a functioning hospital.
Shot in Spanish, the film is a 100% German production of 2Pilots Filmproduction, with support from Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, MEDIA, Bayrische Rundfunk, Zorro Film, and the German Federal Film Board. Telepool is handling world sales.
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