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Updates On "Transfer" (Film About Whites Paying To Have Their Souls Deposited Into Black Bodies)

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 25, 2011 12:43 PM
16 Comments
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A German film I initially profiled back in September 2010, when it was selected for Fantastic Fest 2010. It's since screened at a number of film festivals across the globe, and, as I learned over the weekend, officially opened in theaters in Germany on September 22nd, just last week Thursday, although I was under the impression that it had already played there.

Titled Transfer, German filmmaker Damir Lukacevic is its director. The film now has an official poster, which you'll find below, new still images, and an interesting fact about its casting worth sharing.

First, here's the breakdown:

At the Menzana facility, customers with the financial means to do so can sidestep the constraints of this mortal coil by having their consciousness and memories implanted into the minds of young, healthy bodies, primarily those of immigrant Africans and other third world residents who agree to participate in the procedure for the money their families will receive. The film opens with a consultation session for potential clients Herman and Anna (Hans Michael Rehberg and Ingrid Andree), a wealthy German couple entering their twilight years. While both have ethical concerns about the procedure, Herman is deeply worried by his wife’s failing health and both fear the day that death will separate them. Their initial hesitation to the transfer procedure gives way after Anna learns that she has but months to live. She and Herman soon return to Menzana and commit to purchasing the bodies of Apolain and Sarah (B.J. Britt and Regine Nehy), two refugees from Africa who have been specially selected for their compatibility with the body and brain chemistry of the aging couple. Under the conditions of the transfer, Herman and Anna have use of their new bodies for 20 hours a day. When they sleep, their hosts Apolain and Sarah return to consciousness and are able to use their own bodies for a period of four hours.

As I said in my initial post last year, the ideas here simultaneously intrigue, as well as concern me, having not seen the film!

On one hand, it may provide for an intriguing opportunity to explore race, privilege, class, identity, ethics, the nature of being/consciousness and more, on film, and maybe in ways that we haven't quite seen before; on the other, it could be nothing more than an exploitative (even though well-intended) piece of trash fiction... an experiment gone completely wrong.

But, again, I haven't seen it, so I have no idea on what side of the fence it stands. I'm, at the very least, curious to see it for myself.

The film now has an official poster, which you'll find below, as well as a new still image.

Also, interesting bit regarding its casting... I learned over the weekend that its 2 black leads are American actors! Their faces weren't familiar to me from the stills and the trailer, but I only realized this because I looked at the IMDB pages (why I didn't do it before, I don't know).

B.J. Britt and Regine Nehy are their names.

B.J.'s resume includes roles on Lincoln Heights, Everybody Hates Chris, and One Tree Hill; Regine's resume includes roles also in Lincoln Heights, Lakeview Terrace (the Kerry Washington, Samuel L Jackson film produced by Will Smith), Death At A Funeral (Chris Rock's American remake)

Rest assured, we'll be getting in touch with them to find out more about this film, how they got involved, and more.

If we have any readers in Germany, and you've seen the film, now that it's opened theatrically in that country, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the film; or if anyone has any further info, feel free to drop me an email.

I've reached out to the production and distribution companies for news on future screenings, and international distribution. Once I get a response, I'll share here.

Here's the poster (trailer underneath):

Here's the trailer again:

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16 Comments

  • Tamara | September 27, 2011 3:07 AMReply

    +1 @Michah's comment. Reminds me of a scene/occurence in Dream A Little Dream where Corey Feldman and Jason Robards (and their respective girlfriend and wife) *crashed* (pre-Dave Matthews) and switched bodies for a time. Good film. Good soundtrack. Otis Redding's "Dreams to Remember" still moves me. Hauntingly beautiful song. I want to see this film.

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 27, 2011 2:34 AMReply

    {{{ There was a white woman, baking a chocolate cake for her little white son. She turned her back and that little white boy took that chocolate, rubbed it on his face, and said: ‘Look, Mommy! I’m black!’ She slapped the stuffin out of him: ‘Stop that Justin Timberlake cr*p! You go tell your dad what you just said.’

    “‘Look, Daddy! I’m black!’ He said: ‘Don’t you start that Eminem bull with me! Go tell your grandfather what you just said.’ ‘Look, Grandpa! I’m black!’ Grandpa knocked him out : ‘Don’t start that Al Jolson bull with me, Timmy! Go back to your mother.’ }}}


    Not bad. But Mooney should have spread the eras out by going Eminem, then Elvis and then Al Jolson.

  • Nia | September 27, 2011 1:27 AMReply

    It sounds like a really cool idea. I was prepared to skip over this article, but I thought I recognized the male actor so I clicked it. It would be great if they made the film in english. With maybe Susan Sarandon or Jack Nicholsan (spelling is probably off) as the old couple. Yeah, it's just a really interesting premise for the film and I can't see it as an oppurtunity to portray black archtypes or be stereotypical. Please let us know more!

  • jacetoon | September 26, 2011 12:33 PMReply

    Nothing intelligent to add but i like to tell this Paul Mooney joke.

    There was a white woman, baking a chocolate cake for her little white son. She turned her back and that little white boy took that chocolate, rubbed it on his face, and said: 'Look, Mommy! I'm black!' She slapped the stuffin out of him: 'Stop that Justin Timberlake cr*p! You go tell your dad what you just said.'

    "'Look, Daddy! I'm black!' He said: 'Don't you start that Eminem bull with me! Go tell your grandfather what you just said.' 'Look, Grandpa! I'm black!' Grandpa knocked him out : 'Don't start that Al Jolson bull with me, Timmy! Go back to your mother.'

    "Mother said: 'Now, Timmy, what did you learn today?' Timmy said: 'I've learned I've been black for five minutes and already I hate you white mofos!'"

  • E Forde | September 26, 2011 9:14 AMReply

    I caught this earlier in the year at London's Sci_Fi Film fest and loved it.

    It's got English language remake written all over it. Its a great example of a high concept Sci-Fi Thriller. Added to that its interesting take on Race and Class (Especially in the European sense) you've the makings of a very good film.

    Also, the lead actress is Regine Nehy seemed to my ear to be speak faultless German.

    America see this film you won't be disappointed.

  • menelic | September 26, 2011 7:34 AMReply

    Thanks for this...am in Germany and will definitely watch, it has a limited release, about 20 screens across the country. Unfortunately, my research across the German web only feeds into my initial scepitcism: There are enough Afrogerman actors to cast for such roles, and since the movie seeks to adress issues of racism and privilege, among others, it would have been nice if this had translated into a responsible casting policy. Judging from the short German trailer it appears the Black actors have been dubbed - not the best of solutions. I dread the choices I fear they might have made for the accents/dubbing or lack thereof during the four hours of consciousness of the African body hosts. The mere fact that the director claims that it was "a problem" to find the African actors, that they have done "worldwide casting" (highy improbable and a very tiring reenactment of the delusional fantasy that Germany is a white country for which reason you have to look elsewhere for Black actors...) makes me doubt reflection on the issues has gone as deep as I'd have wished. Casting from the US for marketing reasons would have been a acceptable excuse, but these statements are...lets say regrettable: http://content.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/stn/page/1811085_0_2147_filmdreh-in-stuttgart-alte-menschen-leihen-sich-junge-koerper.html. I will watch and report back...
    German trailer here http://www.kino-zeit.de/filme/trailer/transfer

  • urbanauteur | September 26, 2011 6:42 AMReply

    Octavia Butler meet's Lester A. Walton as directed by,huum....??... Alfonso Cua`ron or .Andrew NIccol?

  • Micah | September 26, 2011 5:58 AMReply

    The premise of this film sounds fantastic. Science fiction is often best when it can provide a way to look at modern problem in a context that doesn't immediately put anyone on guard. This film has that potential while inspiring the audience to ask itself questions about mortality and the morality of act among others.

    I have to say I'm quite excited about it. I know some of us have reservations about the way it may potentially deal with race and class but I feel we are all excited about this "high concept" film.

    Think of the challenge it would present to the black actors. How often do black actors get roles like that in widely distributed movies? I hope this one makes it stateside in theaters. I'm sure if it does it will be very limited.

  • CareyCarey | September 26, 2011 5:21 AMReply

    Intriguing! Original! Bold! Challenging! Sounds fantastic!

    YES YES YES, this has the makings of something ripe and juicy and DEEEEEEEEP!

    Why black bodies? What has been Herman and Anna’s history with blacks?
    Love Story? Sci-fi? Fiction? Issues of racism and privilege? Writer/Directors’ subtle messages? Apolain and Sarah’s “grieving” family? Under the conditions of the transfer, Herman and Anna have use of their new bodies for 20 hours a day... their own bodies for a period of four hours?!

    Wow! I’m feeling a little of this and a little of that ----> Melvin Van Peeples’s Watermelon Man. The body transfers in Avatar. Senior citizens reaching back... in Ron Howard’s science fiction film Cocoon. And a hint of “Suture” starring Dennis Haysbert
    and MUCH MORE!

  • Les Zack | September 26, 2011 3:59 AMReply

    Fiction, I think not- society and technology is coming closer to making this scenario a reality.

  • Duncan MaNutz | September 26, 2011 3:48 AMReply

    Looks very interesting...

  • misha | September 26, 2011 3:43 AMReply

    I find myself nodding in agreement with AccidentalVisitor. :O LOL

    @menelic Your concerns are duly noted...at least with me. :)

  • AccidentalVisitor | September 26, 2011 2:34 AMReply

    What's the problem? It is a high-concept idea that is totally unique and bold. Well, bold for American standards because Hollywood would not allow the young couple to be black (or it would be a comedy). The film may not be any good but at least its storyline seems fresh and original. Its a different take on the sci-fi story of senior citizens looking to recapture youth.

    And, Jai, I hope your concern is a plot point in the film itself. You want conflict after all.

  • Jai | September 26, 2011 2:27 AMReply

    Original concept but the older couple is taking the young couple's right to grow old together.

  • Jennifer | September 26, 2011 2:03 AMReply

    I am ...intrigued. Though scared. I'd love to hear from the actors.

  • Vanessa Martinez | September 26, 2011 1:34 AMReply

    Oh wow they're American...we must definitely get a hold of them. I don't know what to make of this myself, though I'm certainly curious as well.

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