UFA Cinema rolls out ambitious slate

Outfit plans to produce 6-8 features a year

BERLIN -- Five months after its launch, UFA Cinema is making a play for the big time, revealing a slate that includes adaptations of Noah Gordon's medieval epic "The Physician," Leonie Swann's murder mystery "Three Bags Full" and Berhard Schlink's "The Weekend."

After months of playing coy, the shingle, launched in March by TV production giant FremantleMedia ("American Idol"), unveiled its first slate of 11 projects Friday. The outfit aims to produce six to eight feature films a year, with the first release expected by early 2010.

"Physician," the story of a young man in the 11th century who has an extraordinary power to heal the sick, will be produced in English with an international cast. But the bulk of UFA's slate will be German-language. These include big-screen takes on the German best-seller "Jungle Child," the true story of a German child raised among the natives of Papua New Guinea; Julia Franck's historical drama "Die Mittagsfrau"; the romantic comedy "Bad Karma"; and Christian Schoenborn's upcoming terrorist thriller "God Wills It."

Other titles on UFA's slate include "Hempel's Sofa," based on the cult comic from Ralf Konig; the CGI feature "Marnie's World"; and "The Robbers," a comedy written by top TV scribe Bora Dagtekin.

UFA also is targeting Germany's lucrative family entertainment market with a potential new franchise based on Enid Blyton's beloved "St. Claire's" boarding school series.

"I think this slate shows we are serious," UFA Cinema managing director Thomas Peter Friedl said. "We think there is a demand in the market for a producer that can guarantee a high volume of top-end, mainstream films. And that's what we intend to do."

Friedl said UFA hasn't decided whether to set up its own distribution business or ink an output deal with the German arm of one of the majors.
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