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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Bavaria Media International

Programming Profile

Bavaria Media takes German talent global with new slate

20-10-2021

From a meditation on grief to a pizzeria that is a front for a money-laundering operation, Munich-based Bavaria Media International boasts a wide-ranging slate of compelling stories. Director of international sales Carlos Hertel discusses the company’s new playlist on C21’s Digital Screenings.

 

The origins of Bavaria Film date back to 1919, when it evolved out of a studio built in a Munich suburb by film producer Peter Ostermayr. Within just a few years, it was used by iconic directors such as Alfred Hitchcock to make The Pleasure Garden, Stanley Kubrick to film Paths of Glory and Elia Kazan to make Man on a Tightrope.

 

Now, a century later, Germany’s answer to Hollywood is still in use as a production facility (and tourist attraction), while Bavaria Film has become one of Europe’s largest film and TV producers. Most recently, it acquired German production company Story House to expand its remit even further into the factual and factual entertainment genres.

 

Hertel
Carlos Hertel,
Bavaria Media International

Distribution has played a role in Bavaria’s business model since the 1960s. In 2017, the distribution arm received a makeover as the now well-known brand Bavaria Media International and Carlos Hertel was appointed director of international sales.

 

With almost half of his time heading up the division falling during the coronavirus pandemic, Hertel says the health crisis has changed what content global audiences want to watch. “The pandemic has given people a moment of introspection and a chance to point out weaknesses and flaws in society,” he says. “As a result, there will be more programmes that accurately reflect society, with topics covered including gender diversity, digital life and the environment.”

 

Jackpot
Jackpot

One project that taps into the zeitgeist on Bavaria Media International’s Digital Screenings playlist is film Exit – #1nfin1ty, which has been produced by Sommerhaus Filmproduktion. Based on the book Nachspiel by Simon Urban, the 1×90’ thriller is set in 2047 and follows three entrepreneur friends who develop, promote and sell an AI technology that replicates existence. “The app they create surpasses all expectations, but in an unexpected way. It’s about the risks of technology,” Hertel explains.

 

Jackpot is a 1×90’ crime film produced by Constantin Television and starring Rosalie Thomass, who is one of Germany’s most in-demand actresses, Hertel says. The film follows a towing company employee (played by Thomass) who finds a bag of cash abandoned in the back of a car she is due to tow away. With her boyfriend recovering after an accident at work, it dawns on her that the cash could pay for his medical care. “But she doesn’t realise that a normal person wouldn’t be leaving thousands of euros in the back of car,” Hertel adds, “so she unwittingly becomes involved in a crime story.”

 

Sea Lights
Sea Lights

Next up in Bavaria Media International’s line-up is drama feature Sea Lights, which stars another esteemed actor, Ulrich Tukur, who had a role in hit film The Lives of Others. Produced by Fireworks Entertainment, KJ Entertainment and Film Manufacturers, the film is about the grief of a father (Tukur) following the death of his daughter in a plane crash. “The experience shatters his life, and he also loses his marriage as a result,” Hertel says. “He then decides to move to a quiet coastal town to cope with the loss. There, he ultimately reinvents himself and finds the energy to carry on and to come to life again. It’s a message of hope in difficult times.”

 

Changing gear, Lovecraft (1×90’) is a mystery thriller film adapted from a French graphic novel series. Produced by Schwabenlandfilm, the film follows a man who builds models for a living. After gaining widespread acclaim for his work, he receives a commission from a diva actress, with whom he becomes obsessed. “It is set in the 1950s, so viewers can expect wonderful props and scenery,” Hertel says of the feature. “The project immediately grabbed my attention because it’s very Hitchcockian yet an original piece of work unlike anything else I’ve seen.”

 

The final film on the slate is romantic drama Figuring Fatherhood, produced by Bavaria Fiction for ARD Degeto. It follows a hapless young dad of three children who must overhaul his life to prove to his ex that he is capable of looking after the kids – or face losing custody of them. The cast includes Timo Oliver Schultz, Zoe Moore, Peter Lohmeyer and David Rott. “It’s a very modern approach to the topic of changing social models and role models,” Hertel says of the 1×90’ feature.

 

Coast Guard: Lake Constance
Coast Guard: Lake Constance

Kicking off Bavaria Media International’s new series slate is crime procedural Coast Guard: Lake Constance. Starring Floriane Daniel, Tim Wilde and Wendy Güntensperger, the 44×55’ series is produced by Saxonia Media Filmproduktion. “It tells the story of a female cop who has to reinvent herself after she moves to Lake Constance,” Hertel says. “She has to solve crime cases while taking care of her family, as well as cope after learning that her husband cheated on her with her best friend.” Coast Guard: Lake Constance is directed by Kerstin Lipownik, Sven Sund, Martina Zöllner, Barbara Biermann, Michael Schmidl and Simon Riedl.

 

AntiPASTA – Cooking the Books (6×45’) blends crime with black comedy in a Cohen Brothers style. Produced by Polyphon Pictures for SWR and directed by Peter Evers, the drama follows a man (played by Giovanni Funiati) who starts work at his family’s pizzeria. Confused by their disinterest in the state of the business, he realises it is in fact a front for a mafia-controlled money-laundering operation. Joining Funiati in the cast are Adam Bousdoukos, Giovanna Nodari and Christina Hecke.

 

In the comedy space, the distributor is offering up Falk: Compulsive, Savant, Flair, produced by Bavaria Fiction for ARD Degeto. The 12×60’ series, which is in its second season, follows a ‘Legal Dr. House’ anti-hero who turns his back on an illustrious law career to open a boutique restaurant. But despite his best intentions, the restaurant is a flop and he finds himself forced to take up an offer from an angel investor to return to life as a lawyer.

 

The Young Doctors
The Young Doctors

“During his second law career, Falk is confronted with some unusual cases that match his own eccentricity,” Hertel says of the series. “But he manages to win cases with some very unconventional and unorthodox methods.”

 

Finally, rounding off the playlist are two medical dramas, The Young Doctors and its spin-off Heart & Hands. The Young Doctors (68×50’) is described as a “popular, approachable and youthful hospital drama” that follows the personal and professional lives of a team of doctors. Among its cast are Mike Adler, Marijam Agischewa, Sanam Afrashteh, Philipp Danne and Stefan Ruppe. The series, which is in its seventh season, is produced by Saxonia Media Filmproduktion for ARD Degeto. It has also recently been picked up by Balkan broadcasting group TV3 in Slovenia.

 

Meanwhile, Heart & Hands, which is also produced by Saxonia Media Filmproduktion for ARD Degeto, follows three female nurses in their mid-20s. “It is aimed at a younger audience compared to Young Doctors,” Hertel says. “It is about nurses’ lives told from their perspective, which is very timely given the vital role they played across the world during the coronavirus pandemic.” In the cast are Leslie-Vanessa Lille, Llewellin Reichman, Adrian Goessel, Friederike Linke, Eric Bouwer and Nils Brunkhorst, while the directors are Daniel Anderson and Franziska Jahn.

 

Heart & Hands
Heart & Hands

As for predictions for future trends in the industry, Hertel says the proliferation of new streamers and the resulting insatiable need for content mean there will be more reboots of series and existing IP. “It will be a challenge for everyone to keep up with the pace in which all these new players want to serve the market. You can’t produce enough scriptwriters to keep up with the demand,” he explains. “This will lead to an increased focus on the adaptations of existing IP. That also partly explains why the popularity of non-English-language content has boomed, because the IP is already there.”

 

But it is nonetheless an exciting time for content producers, particularly those based in Europe, according to Hertel. “Many shows are produced in the US, but there are so many players – and many players with deep pockets – and they all want to be in Europe. Just look at the likes of HBO and Disney,” he adds, “so we look towards a compelling future.”



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