- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
UFA, the German production giant owned by Fremantle, is doubling down on documentaries and setting up a new unit, UFA Documentary, to focus on high-end non-fiction for the German and international market.
Gwendolin Szyszkowitz-Schwingel and Marc Lepetit will run UFA Documentary as co-managing directors.
The unit will sit alongside the company’s other three production divisions, UFA Fiction, UFA Serial Drama and UFA Show & Factual, and focus on the development and production of feature-length documentaries, high-end docudramas and serial features.
UFA has made a major push into documentaries in recent years and found success with docudramas, including Hannelore Kohl — Die Erste Frau — about the life of the long-serving “first lady” and wife of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl — and Der große Fake — Die Wirecard-Story, about the rise and fall of the infamous German online payment processor Wirecard, which went bust last year after it emerged the company had cooked its books. The feature-length docudrama, featuring German star Christoph Maria Herbst as disgraced, and currently incarcerated Wirecard CEO Markus Braun, was a hit on TVNow, the streaming service owned by German commercial broadcaster RTL Group.
UFA CEO Nico Hofmann told The Hollywood Reporter the streaming boom has boosted commissions across the board for the company. “The golden age for streaming has reached Germany,” he said.
On the scripted side, UFA produced spy series Deutschland ’89 for Amazon Prime and is currently shooting original series including Sam A Saxon, about a black East German police officer, for Disney+, and Der König von Palma, a family drama featuring The Last Cop star Henning Baum, for TVNow.
Somewhere between documentary and drama is Faking Hitler, a six-part series based on a podcast about the notorious, and notoriously fake, Hitler Diaries that were published by German magazine Stern 40 years ago. The scandal was turned into the Oscar-nominated film Schtonk in 1992, starring Götz George and Uwe Ochsenknecht. UFA’s serial version, which began shooting this week and will premiere on TVNow, stars Lars Eidinger (Babylon Berlin) and Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run).
Hofmann said UFA Documentary is also a response to the growing demand for non-fiction internationally.
“All over the world, broadcasters and platforms are increasingly demanding non-fictional content, serial formats and new forms of presentation such as documentary fiction,” Hofmann said. “This growth area now needs to be expanded [and our] new, independent unit is to become an important player for documentary content.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day