"Babylon Berlin," the path-breaking joint serial project of X-Filme, ARD Degeto, Sky and Beta Film, is finalizing its pre-production and will start shooting in April. The high-end series, set in the roaring 1920s in Berlin, will be produced until the end of the year. Created by showrunner Tom Tykwer (“Sense 8”, “Cloud Atlas”, “Run Lola Run”) and his writer/director team Achim von Borries (“Alone in Berlin”) and Hendrik Handloegten (“Good Bye, Lenin”), "Babylon Berlin" stars “Generation War”-lead Volker Bruch and multiple-award-winning and up-and-coming actress Liv Lisa Fries (“She Deserved It”). The four partners have already signed in for two seasons. X-Filme producer Stefan Arndt: “We’re particularly happy that we’ll be able to complete two series of eight episodes each during the first shooting. This shows how enthusiastic and confident all of the partners are in our joint project.”
Kutscher’s "Babylon Berlin," centering on police inspector Gereon Rath, delivers an atmospheric portrayal of Berlin as the most exciting city in the world of that time, a hotbed of drugs and politics, murder and art, emancipation and extremism.
Sky will broadcast the series in 2017 and ARD in 2018. As co-producer, Beta Film will be responsible for the worldwide distribution of the series.
Beta Film’s director Jan Mojto explains, “Made in Germany is also a hallmark of quality in television. Due to the subject, the creative energy invested in the project, the names involved, its high standards, and not least, its budget, the first international reactions to the project have been very positive. 'Babylon Berlin' doesn’t need to take second stage to any of the major international series.”
The broadcasting team at Sky Deutschland and ARD Degeto emphasized how unique this collaboration is going to be. In the words of Volker Herres, program director at Erstes Deutsches Fernsehen: “We would like to build on the incredible success of Volker Kutscher’s novels. These are exciting stories with a historical background, and we want to present them to German television audiences in a serial production that holds up to international standards. With this goal, we benefit from a collaboration between three strong partners so X Filme and Tom Tykwer can implement the detective series in grand style.”
“Babylon Berlin,” Carsten Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer of Sky Deutschland reports, “is an exceptional project and a perfect match for Sky – bold storytelling, an outstanding cast, and Tom Tykwer’s incredibly creative team. The cooperation between X Filme, ARD, Degeto, and Beta Film is an impressive example of a fruitful and fair collaboration where all the partners are striking a unique path for Germany and Austria. With 'Babylon Berlin,' we are adding an in-house German production segment to our exclusive international agreements with such major partners as HBO and Showtime – a direction we will be moving in even more in the future.”
And Christine Strobl, managing director of ARD Degeto adds, “'Babylon Berlin' is a special project and very important for ARD. With this series, ARD Degeto will be offering Das Erste audiences a real treat that can stand up to international comparison from both the narrative and visual points of view. With regard to cooperation and financing, such an exceptional project deserves an exceptional approach. I am looking forward to the upcoming start of filming – judging from the screenplays, we can expect some outstanding television.”
A special challenge for the three authors and directors, Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries, and Hendrik Handloegten. “For a long time, we were searching for subject matter that could tell the story of this unique era in all its facets,” Tom Tykwer explains. “We finally found it in Kutscher’s novels. And after Achim, Hendrik, and I spent three years working intensively on the screenplay, I can hardly wait now to get started.”
Achim von Borries adds, “The final years of the Weimar Republic were a time of continual crisis and constant attacks from political extremists. A rapidly growing city with immigrants from all over the world was in the middle of it all – Berlin, the international melting pot, with the pressure constantly mounting. This was a source of inexhaustible material for us as authors. And to finally have the opportunity to portray the atmosphere of the late 20s is a challenge to us as directors – absolutely huge and incredibly exciting.”
For Hendrik Handloegten, the city of Berlin plays one of the key roles: “Berlin in the final Weimar years was characterized by its fast pace, freedom, and diversity. But soon it was too much speed, too much freedom, too much diversity. A city that is always becoming, but never is. In 'Babylon Berlin,' the city is the protagonist. And Berlin in 1929 is a bestial, monstrous, famished and satiated, exalted and down-to-earth, elegant and degenerate, perverse and chaste… and mysterious protagonist. The best thing that could happen to an author and director.”
Stefan Arndt adds, “We’re really looking forward to capturing this exuberant episode of Berlin’s history here in the city itself, thanks to all our partners and sponsors. A stunning outdoor set is being built right now in Babelsberg that will evoke so many impressions of the city at the time. Together with our experienced film artists from our previous productions, we are greatly looking forward to bringing the world of the 1920s to life in a TV series. For all of us, this project is the dawn of a new epoch in television production.”
Volker Bruch captivated millions of television viewers with his portrayal of Wehrmacht officer Wilhelm in “Generation War”. As one of the five leading actors, he won a special prize at the 2013 Bavarian TV Awards for his performance, as well as a German Television Award and Emmy Award.
Liv Lisa Fries won considerable acclaim in the ARD film “She Deserved it”, where she plays the aggressive teenager Linda who tortures her classmate to death. She was awarded the 2012 Golden Camera as Best Young Actress for her convincing performance, and also won the 2011 Günter Strack Television Award.
The chief editors of "Babylon Berlin" are Christine Strobl, Sascha Schwingel, and Carolin Haasis (ARD Degeto), Gebhard Henke and Caren Toenissen (WDR), and Marcus Ammon and Frank Jastfelder (Sky Deutschland). The producers for X Filme are Stefan Arndt, Uwe Schott, and Michael Polle.
The project is sponsored by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Creative Europe Media, and the NRW Film and Media Foundation.