Berlin: 12 Festival Books — And Their Big-Screen Potential

11:30 PM 2/17/2018

by Andy Lewis

The one-of-a-kind presentation enters its 12th edition pitching stories about fake news, millennial love and Hitler’s food tasters.

'FAKE': Courtesy of Edition Nautilus. 'MARTHA': Courtesy of Ullstein Book Publishing. 'MIDST': Courtesy of Simon & Schuster. 'WHERE': Courtesy of Orion Publishing Group.

 

  • 'In the Midst of Winter'

    By Isabel Allende; Spain

    In Brooklyn, Richard, a 60-year-old human rights scholar, gets sucked into the life of a young undocumented woman after a fender bender and stumbles into a late-in-life romance with his Chilean neighbor, Lucia, 62.

    ADAPTABILITY: 

  • 'The Girl in the Tree'

    By Sebnem Isiguzel; Turkey

    A girl who likes to hide in a tree in a park falls in love with a bellboy at the boutique hotel next door. The story is set against Istanbul’s 2013 anti-government protests and the 2015 Suruc bombing aimed against young activists.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'The Million Kroner Kindness Competition'

    By Arnfinn Kolerud; Norway

    In this comedic take on sudden wealth, Frank and his mother win the lottery, and she promises a cut of the money to the nicest person in their small village. But being incredibly rich and a good person is harder than its seems.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • '#Egoland'

    By Michael Nast; Germany

    Nast builds on his status as the voice of Germany’s millennials (though he’s 40) in this meta-novel that probes the wants and weaknesses of the Instagram/Tinder generation. A writer (named Michael Nast) is asked to finish the novel of a friend who’s committed suicide. Nast becomes obsessed with the story when he discovers the book’s craziest scenes actually happened and finishes the novel, “#egoland.”

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'Bakhita'

    By Veronique Olmi; France

    A fictional telling of the life of the first African woman to be canonized, it follows Josephine Bakhita from her childhood in 1870s Darfur to slavery in Italy and eventual freedom in a court case that captured the country’s attention.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'Captain Horror's Island'

    By Rodoula Pappa; Greece

    Pitched as Pippi Longstocking meets Pirates of the Caribbean, this first in a trilogy introduces the infamous pirate Captain Horror and his daughter Melinda, who convinces the pirates to become well-mannered and civilized, and turns a desert island into the happiest place on Earth — until the desert suddenly disappears.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'Magda'

    By Mazarine Pingeot; France

    Author Pingeot — French President Francois Mitterrand’s daughter and a former television anchor who also has penned several movies — ponders the line between activism and terrorism, and parents’ responsibility for their children after 60-year-old Magda finds her quiet life thrown into turmoil when her adult daughter Alice is arrested for attempted murder as part of an eco-anarchist group.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'Hitler's Feast'

    By Rosella Postorino; Italy

    A historical novel based on the 10 real women who put their lives at risk to serve as the Fuhrer’s tasters to make sure his food wasn’t poisoned, and the one woman who worries about her husband on the Russian front.

    ADAPTABILITY: 

  • 'Fake Metal Jacket'

    By Sven Recker; Germany

    A German star reporter covering the Syrian civil war who is actually faking all his coverage (justifying it as an attempt to bring down Assad) gets involved in the conflict when he tries to rescue his accomplice’s niece and then is blackmailed by pro-Assad forces that uncover his scam.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'Where the Missing Go'

    By Emma Rowley; U.K.

    This twisty high-concept thriller starts like this: A woman who volunteers at a missing-persons helpline passing on messages from runaways to their parents gets a call one day from a girl in desperate fear for her safety who happens to be the woman’s own daughter, missing for two years.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'Martha’s Dance'

    By Tom Saller; Germany

    Saller uses the auction of a valuable notebook of unknown sketches from Klee, Kandinsky and others by a woman’s great-grand-son to unspool the story of her friendship with the Bauhaus artists, epic escape from the Nazis and mysterious disappearance at the end of the war.

    ADAPTABILITY:

  • 'The Other Amsterdam'

    By Dato Turashvili; Georgia

    Turashvili, a leader of the famous 1989 anti-Soviet protests, uses the true story of his grandfather as inspiration for a story about Georgian soldiers who rebelled against their German officers in World War II Amsterdam.

    ADAPTABILITY:

    This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 18 daily issue at the Berlin Film Festival.