Berlin: Carte Blanche to Adapt a Pair of German Best-Sellers

Carte Blanche
From left: 'Lieber ein nasser Hund als ein trockener Jude' ('A Wet Dog is Better than a Dry Jew') and 'Winternahe'

The news comes as the German production company's first feature production — a biopic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel centered on her decisions during the 2015 refugee crisis — begins shooting in May.

Berlin production company Carte Blanche has optioned the adaptation rights to two German best-sellers from writers Mirna Funk and Arye Sharuz Shalicar, with an eye to turning both into feature films.

Funk’s Winternahe, a novel about a young German-Jewish woman growing up in East Berlin, caused a sensation when it was first published in 2015. The story follows Lola, a third-generation German-Jew caught between her grandmother’s memories of the holocaust and present-day anti-Semitism, who sets out from Berlin on a quest to find her own identity, a journey that will take her through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Tel Aviv, all the way to Thailand. Elisabeth Burghardt, the screenwriter of the 2014 historic drama Labyrinth of Lies, adapted Funk’s novel for the screen. Up-and-coming German filmmaker Viviane Andereggen is attached to direct. Alexander van Dulmen and Stephan Wagner from Carte Blanche International are producing with Sabine Lamby from Naked Eye Filmproduction. Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree) will co-produce, along with Avraham Pirchi from United Channels.

Questions of identity play a major role in Shalicar’s autobiography Lieber ein nasser Hund als ein trockener Jude (A Wet Dog Is Better Than a Dry Jew), which chronicles his life growing up as a Jewish-Iranian in Berlin’s rough — and largely Muslim and Arab — Wedding neighborhood. He spends years hiding his Jewish roots to fit in with the Turkish and Arab gangs.

When he finally is discovered, Shalicar suffers an identity crisis —“for the Germans I was a Turk, for the Muslims a Jew and for the Jews a criminal from Wedding,” he writes — and decamps to Israel. Shalicar eventually becomes a member, and then official spokesman, for the Israeli Defense Force.

Damir Lukacevic, director of the 2010 dystopian drama Transfer, has signed on to direct the adaptation of A Wet Dog Is Better Than a Dry Jew, which is currently in development.

Carte Blanche’s first feature production — a biopic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel centered on her decisions during the 2015 refugee crisis — begins shooting in May.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 8 daily issue at the Berlin Film Festival.