Veteran German producers Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann and Michael Lehmann will adapt Max Sprenger’s best-selling autobiography Tsunami im Kopf (Tsunami in the Head), about Sprenger’s life with locked-in syndrome, for the screen.
German director Marco Petry (Heiter bis wolkig) will helm the feature and co-write the script with partner Janina Petry.
Principle photography is planned for 2021 or 2022.
Sprenger’s book, published in 2019, traces his experiences following a stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome, unable to move or speak. Through his rehabilitation, Sprenger taught himself to move a single finger, which he used to type his book on his cell phone.
Locked-in syndrome was the focus of Julian Schnabel’s Oscar-nominated The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), which was based on the true story of Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby. In Bauby’s case, he was only able to move his left eye and dictated his book by blinking.
Higuchi-Zitzmann produced the 2017 sleeper hit My Blind Date With Life, a true story about a severely visually impaired man who hid his disability to work at a Munich luxury hotel. Lehmann’s credits include Lindenberg! Mach dein Ding, a hit biopic about the eccentric German rock star Udo LIndenberg.
The pair plan Tsunami im Kopf as an emotional dramedy akin to The Untouchables.
“A dream I hadn’t even dared to dream is coming true: my book is being made into a movie!” said Sprenger in a statement. “Properly adapting this story is a delicate matter, but in speaking with Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann and Marco Petry I could feel that my story is the best of hands with this mega team who will tell it with great passion.”
“Meeting Max Sprenger and his family was extremely touching and inspiring for me,” said Higuchi-Zitzmann. “Despite his unbelievable misfortune, Max has never lost his optimism, his lust for life, and his sense of humor.”
Higuchi-Zitzmann and Lehmann are producing through Studio Hamburg’s Letterbox Filmproduktion together with Stefan Gärtner at SevenPictures. DCM Film Distribution will release Tsunami im Kopf in Germany. The producers are still negotiating world sales rights for the title.