Ziegler Film launches German distribution arm

Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann to run new division

COLOGNE, Germany -- Ziegler Film, one of Germany's leading indie production companies, has launched a theatrical distribution arm, Ziegler Cinema, to handle its expanding slate of feature films.

Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann, a film acquisitions exec at Telepool and Constantin Film, will run the new division.

The first big title to go out under the Ziegler Cinema label will be Jo Baier's "Henry of Navarre," a period epic based on the novel by Henrich Mann, which will bow in Germany March 18.

Other Ziegler features in the pipeline include the drama "The Concubine of Shanghai," based on the novel by Chinese author Hong Ying; the period piece "Die Hexe und die Helige" (The Witch and the Saint); an adaptation of Veronika Peters' best-selling biography "Was in zwei Koffer passt" (What fits in two suitcases); and German-language comedies "Frisch gepresset" (Freshly Squeezed) and "Bau auf! Bau auf!" (Build up! Build up!).

Ziegler Film, run by mother and daughter producer team Regina and Tanja Ziegler, is best known for its television productions, including the international Emmy-winning miniseries "The Wolves."

In making the jump to cinema production and distribution, Ziegler is following in the footsteps of UFA Cinema, a division of TV production giant Fremantle, which this year is rolling out an ambitious slate of German-language features through Universal's German operation.

Driving these new operations is the increasing demand for local-language product in Germany. According to figures from Nielsen EDI, German productions and co-productions earned €245.7 million ($356 million) at the boxoffice last year, more than 25% of the total take for the territory.
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