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Book To Film: Would You Like To See A Film Version Of 'Amon'?

by Sergio
September 20, 2013 10:32 PM
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When I first read about this new book and the author, Jennifer Teege, and her very unusual story a few days ago, it immediately struck me that it would be a fascinating film. And I’m willing to bet some of you will think so too.

But first some background...

Teege’s book Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me, came out last month in Germany, and has caused a sensation, needless to say, once you hear the story. So far no American publisher, to my knowledge, has picked up for the book for an English translation here in the U.S., though I’m sure someone will and it'll probably come out sometime next year.

Teege is the daughter of a German woman and a Nigerian father whose mother gave her up for adoption only a month after she was born and she was eventually adopted by a couple, and raised in a Munich suburb.

She tried as much as she could to live a normal life though, of course, she encountered many difficulties and for a while was a college student in Israel, and did work some study work on the Holocaust, which is ironic when you find out where this story is going.

She eventually married, had kids and lived in Hamburg working as a copywriter. That was until 5 years ago, when, at the age of 38, she was going through a local library looking for anything of interest to read and came across a book written by Monika Goeth telling of her experiences during World War II.

To Teege’s surprise, reading the book, she found out that Goeth is actually her mother, and that her grandmother, who she knew as Ruth Irene Goeth, had committed suicide.

But the story gets even stranger when Teege also discovers from the book that her grandfather was a Nazi. And not just any Nazi, but the infamous Amon Goeth, the Nazi concentration camp commander at Plaszow in Poland - the same person who Ralph Fiennes so memorably portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List.

Like I said, ironic.

To put in mildly, Teege was understandably confused, saddened and shocked by this revelation, regarding her family’s brutal history, her status as a woman of color in Germany, and about her grandmother who “decades later spoke enthusiastically about her life at the side of the camp commander. It was a great time.

And for Teege this is a shock because she knew her grandmother just as loving people, And I only had good memories of it, but suddenly this was destroyed from childhood.. because I could not see her as a caring woman, but as a woman on the side of Amon Goeth."

So over the next five years, she traveled and researched and eventually wrote Amon - a book about her life and struggles and coming to terms with her family’s past. It’s fair to say that Ms. Teege has quite a lot of issues that she had to, and is still trying to deal with.

Now wouldn’t you agree with me that this would be a really interesting feature film or an HBO movie? Question is, who would you cast in it, and who would you pick to direct it, if you were producing it?

As for lead actress, I haven’t a clue; but for director, the first one who came to mind was Pariah's Dee Rees. Just judging from her previous film, I think she would have the right sensibility and nuance for such a film.

What about you?

Below is sort of a promo video for the book. It’s all in German, but you can adjust the video to play with English subtitles. Although they’re clumsy and obviously wrong at times, so I suggest you just watch it the way it is. You’ll get the gist of it.

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  • Vanessa | October 23, 2013 7:21 PMReply

    I do think it would make a captivating film. The story is so uncanny (I've read it in German and wondered to my self the same thing: how long will it take for this to become a film and how many languages will the book be translated into?). I would like to see the film made in Germany though. After all, Teege is a Black German and they deserve recognition in their own country (which many white Germans have yet to give them). There are lots of fantastic Black German actresses who could do this role justice.

  • sheree | October 8, 2013 12:37 PMReply

    Hello, I am a black American who grew up in Germany and truly believe its time to tell tbe stories of being black in other countries. There are si many stories to tell regarding this topic. Its one of many to turn into a film. Hell, im writing one.

  • Pam | October 3, 2013 4:34 AMReply

    I would like to read this book, if there is an English translation. It would make an interesting film, if produced and directed in a sensitive manner, and with Jennifer's agreement. It is important especially today as murmurs of fascism are rising once again. Lest we forget.

  • Lea | September 22, 2013 11:42 PMReply

    I agree, Dee Rees would be an excellent pick to play the lead.

  • LEA | September 22, 2013 11:44 PM

    correction.. I meant to direct the film!

  • Iris | September 21, 2013 11:08 PMReply

    I agree that this film will be very intereting. The lives of the mixed-blood are always not so easy. They will spend a long time to find of who they really are. It is not easy for Teege to have a normal life. However, reading thorough her own life experience will help to us to think about our own. At least, I do.

  • CC | September 23, 2013 1:03 AM

    LL2, absolute words have no exceptions. Consequently, your statement is either 100% correct or 100% wrong. Clearly you can see that your statement is not true.

    "there is nothing inherent in being mixed-race that causes problems."

    Again, that's not true.

  • CC | September 23, 2013 12:41 AM

    "CC, do you think you would be better off if you were a white person?" Nope.

    "minorities face racism in America." I believe that fit the definition of an inherent problem with being black in America.

    "and CC, sometimes racism makes it difficult". And, the word "difficult" is synonymous to the word "problem".

    "What concerns and questions are you talking about that mixed-race Thandie and Kay have to deal with? They were just sharing their life experiences"

    In those shared experiences "Thandie stated that growing up in almost all-white rural England, she had a lot of issues (problems) fitting in and always felt "different" (a problem).

    "I have never ever felt that there was something wrong with being black". Me either...but my skin color has caused others to treat me differently than they did whites... and I can assume most blacks have shared that experience (including you). I believe that can be defined as a problem.

  • LL2 | September 23, 2013 12:11 AM

    What concerns and questions are you talking about that mixed-race Thandie and Kay have to deal with? They were just sharing their life experiences which is what everyone does in an interview. People will ask you questions about your life and upbringing even if you happen to be a white male from Kentucky.

    As for inherent problems with being black, I'm black and I would say there are no inherent problems with being black. Do you think you would be better off if you were a white person? The reality is everyone has issues to deal with in their lives, if its not racism, its illness, or a handicap or something else. No one gets a free pass. We all will deal with something in this life. Yes, minorities face racism in America but I would not want to trade places with any white person because I do not believe someone's life is better than mine due to their skin color. I don't envy any white person and I don't feel they have anything I would want. I do however, want a chance to live my life to the fullest and sometimes racism makes it difficult but I have never ever felt that there was something wrong with being black. My life is full of love and blessings and if I had another chance to do it over again, I would still want to be black.

  • CC | September 22, 2013 7:31 PM

    @LL2, I have to admit my inclusion of Ms. Goeth was a separate issue.

    Reference your original statement, I was merely questioning the words "nothing inherent in being mixed-race that causes problems". By your own examples (that some have problems and some don't) you've proven that statement to be untrue. I mean, the mere fact that they're are of a mixed race, and thus have to address "concerns"/questions by others is testament to the fact that there is an inherent "problem". To assert otherwise is akin to saying there's absolutely no inherent problems associated with being black in America.

    Having said that, I am getting read to watch Kerry Washington at the Emmys. I wonder if she'll have any problems associated with being black in a prime-time soap on American television. Well, I know she has faced many, but that's another conversation.

  • LL2 | September 22, 2013 6:59 PM


    First, I wasn't talking about Ms. Goeth, her experiences are her experiences and I don't know her so I have no place to comment on them. I was talking about mixed-race people in general. Why would you question my statement? Are you mixed-race? And even if you are how does your individual experience speak for every other mixed race person out there? BTW I wasn't just making a comment it was based on the experiences of actual people. Consider the mixed-race best friends Thandie Newton and Kay Montano who recently launched a beauty website and they talked about their experiences as mixed-race in a recent interview with The Independent newspaper (9/1/13). Thandie stated that growing up in almost all-white rural England, she had a lot of issues fitting in and always felt "different". Her friend Kay, however, stated that she had a good experience growing up in London where diversity was celebrated and she never felt anything strange or "different" about being mixed-race. Now if Kay Montano says she never had issues growing up as a mixed-race woman, why would I argue with her? Why would I presume to know more about her life than she does, when she actually lived it? If she says she didn't have any issues and never felt like she didn't belong, I believe her.

  • CC | September 22, 2013 6:06 PM

    "there is nothing inherent in being mixed-race that causes problems."

    I would question that statement. Granted, their immediate environment is an essential part of their development, however, the world outside that envioronment is where the problems will arise. Take for instance child, they can be gruel and unsympathitic. Consequently, if a mix-raced child (whatever that mix may be) is "different" than "them" that child can become a target for scorn and ridicule.

    Even as adults, mixed-race individuals who find themselves outside their immediate family and friends are frequently faced with "fitting in". Those uncomfortable situations/dynamics increase when said person is torn between cultures. And, I believe it's safe to say humans are unforgiving, mean and distant to those who do not "look" like them.

    In the case of Monika Goeth, lets be real, she's a mixed race black German (not to mention her heritage), living in a country noted for racism. So any notion that her life was a bag of roses (regardless of who accepted her) -- should be reconsidered.

    So I agree, this could be a fantastic film.

  • LL2 | September 22, 2013 12:17 AM

    I think that whether or not a mixed-race person has trouble finding out who they are has to do with their environment and the people around them. If the people around them make race an issue or make them feel "different", they will have issues being mixed race. If the people around accept them as they are and don't make race an issue, they usually turn out surprisingly pretty well adjusted and comfortable in their own skin. I have seen cases of mixed-race people in both situations so there is nothing inherent in being mixed-race that causes problems.

  • Donella | September 21, 2013 12:44 PMReply

    As 42, Fruitvale Station, The Butler, 12 Years a Slave, and The Best Man Holiday (and Pariah) reveal, there is no lack of North American stories remaining to be told.

  • lauren | September 21, 2013 12:20 PMReply

    Why suggest Dee Rees? Because she's black? What would she bring to a this story about the German experience? So stupid. Hello? We are NOT a monolithic group.

  • lauren | September 21, 2013 11:35 PM

    Where did I say or infer that a white male director would be preferable? That's on you Sergio! What I'm saying that just because a person shares the same skin color and sex does not automatically make them the right director for the project. Tarrantino is a white male- could he have directed The Tree of Life cause it has white men in it?

  • JIHUDI | September 21, 2013 5:37 PM

    S E R G I O - you da man bro. Nice response. I think this book would a fascinating film with the right touch, so I concur. I don't even see HBO interested though. I think it would have to be something uber independent along one of those German/European film financing partnership deals. It could be done.

  • sergio | September 21, 2013 1:51 PM

    Hmmm "because she's black"? Let me think about that for a second...Yes! And also because she's black female director unlike the usual boring, white male director you're lusting after

    For being not being a monolithic group I would say that some like Rees or say Julie Dash is about as UNmonolithicc as you can get. And I don't hear you saying what would a white male director bring to a film about black people? But then again white male directors are who you lust after so it's understandable

  • Ted | September 21, 2013 11:08 AMReply

    Almost any story can be interesting and remarkable if done well. I'm inherently suspicious of "Holocaust films," and that's especially true for dramatized ones. If the film solely concentrated on Teege's experience without dramatizing any of the Holocaust itself, it might be alright. Very few films (2 or 3 maybe) have ever dramatized the Holocaust without either being sensational, and therefore trivializing, or quasi-pornographically voyeuristic. I'm not interesting in seeing another film that exploits victims to get me emotionally riled up.

    That said, I can't share the enthusiasm for Dee Rees. I commend her for exploring the experiences of characters neglected by mainstream filmmaking, in this case a black lesbian, and for that reason I really wanted to like "Pariah" but it's just not that great of a film. "Pariah" is schematic, not just its characters but formally also (the lighting scheme was laughably trite if I remember), and I literally rolled my eyes at the ending. The film had this irritating didactic quality about it. I felt like I was watching a mediocre 1950s social problem melodrama, just updated with a new "hot topic" relevant to our times. If fact, now that I'm thinking about it, the film probably would have been better if she embraced the inherent melodrama in her script and went over-the-top the way someone like Sirk did. "Pariah" worked because of an effective cast and affective and fresh protagonists, but the storyline for a film of Teege's experience isn't going to compensate for Rees' mediocrity.

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